A Retirement Retrospective by Terry Wireman

One dictionary defines retrospective as a contemplative view of the past…

That definition is appropriate, since this is my last blog, as I am riding off into retirement on June 2, 2017.  As I take a few minutes and look at the past, there are several topics related to the maintenance/ reliability community I would like to address one last time.

  1. Maintenance as a Business

  2. Maintenance/ Reliability Leadership

  3. CMMS/ EAM Functionality vs. Business Processes

  4. ISO-55000

Maintenance as a Business

Since I started in the maintenance field in the late 1960’s, maintenance has always been viewed as a necessary evil, an overhead, or expense function.  Organizations have never learned to view maintenance as an “profit center”.  This was true even though systems engineering courses taught that maintenance was necessary and the maintenance cost was specified in the design and installation of the equipment.  Despite the overwhelming evidence that properly controlling maintenance costs could contribute to profitability, companies never viewed it as such.  It is my hope that companies continue to explore this area for increased financial contributions to their profitability.  Perhaps the total life cycle approach to managing assets as part of ISO-55000 may help companies start this journey.

Maintenance/ Reliability Leadership

This is the second area that needs attention in the majority of organizations today.  It is still a common belief that competent technical personnel can be promoted into a leadership role and they will instantly be good at it.  This is quite simply not true.  For example, what is your organization’s annual maintenance budget?  $5M, $10M, $25M?  Even More?  Let’s choose $20M.  Would you set up a business with revenues of $20M per year and interview for the “C” level positions, requiring a reliability/ maintenance background for the applicants.  Ludicrous, is it not?  Yet many companies have this size budget (most even larger) and they promote a maintenance supervisor, engineer, or planner into the leadership position with no business education.  I am not advocating that all maintenance/ reliability leadership have an MBA (although I know some who do and it truly helps them), but to place them in such a key position with ZERO business training does not make good sense.  Perhaps a changed perspective on the qualifications of a good maintenance/ reliability leader will help to mitigate this problem.   This change of perspective is already occurring with the Certified Reliability Leader (C.R.L.) certification.  Perhaps other certifications will add this leadership requirement and move maintenance/ reliability leadership forward.

CMMS/ EAM Functionality vs. Business Processes

This may seem like a strange topic to address; however, it has been a difficult issue for decades.  I worked on my first CMMS implementation in the 1970’s as an end user.  It was a reasonably successful implementation, with data accuracy high enough that payroll for the maintenance technicians was paid from the work order system.  Yet companies today still struggle with the CMMS/ EAM system utilization, with most studies showing a 50% or less success rate.  Many organizations do not trust their data to the point where they believe analysis such as MTBF or MTTR when produced by their system.  Why is this the case?  Is it the software?  Or is it something else?  Having attended literally hundreds of conferences in my career, I can tell you it is not the software.  Pick any major EAM software vendor in the market today, such as SAP, Maximo, Oracle, Infor, etc. You can attend their user conference and find very positive examples of companies fully utilizing the software.  To the point that you wonder how they can do it and you, with the same software are not producing 50% of the results that they have achieved.

Having spent the last 11 years of my career at Vesta, who specializes in SAP implementation and utilization, I can tell you it is not the software.  I have watch some of my colleagues at Vesta work virtual “magic” with the functionality in SAP.   Yet most organizations fail to fully utilize it.  Why?  It is because they fail to set up and execute their maintenance/ reliability business processes.  One of my favorite authors Erik Brynjolfsson – highlights this problem in many of his texts.   While, not dealing with maintenance/ reliability specifically, his studies have shown that properly executing any business process is key to having a successful, profitable business.   If the functionality exists in an EAM system, yet we do not enable it through supportive business processes, how can we ever expect to achieve a return on investment for the purchase and implementation of the software system?   Perhaps organizations will finally overcome the lack of EAM system utilization by focusing on improving their business processing in the future.

ISO 55000

The asset management standard.  The ISO organization commissioned a group to begin work on the ISO-55000 standard in 2011 and it was finally published in 2014.  This standard focused on a management system for assets.  Without repeating much of the standard, let’s just say that it was difficult for the various committees to stay focused on the Management System part of the standard.  However, once the standard was published, most accepted that if it was implemented correctly, it would help organizations achieve more value from their assets.

There was a struggle to define assets; and to different businesses, assets meant different things.  For example, in industry, an asset often meant a piece of equipment.  In a government institution, it could often mean something as simple as a chair.   One term to me that always helped to put asset management in perspective was “managing the asset for its life cycle”.  The term “life cycle” produced countless debates among the various committees.  While I may have been narrow minded, one text that helped me understand asset management in the context of life cycle was the texts by Professor Benjamin S. Blanchard.  In his writings, Professor Blanchard demystifies asset management by putting it in the context of systems engineering.  His texts on systems engineering were biblical before we really understood what asset management was as a process.

As asset management becomes more and more a driving force in how organizations manage their assets, it is hoped that they will learn from some of the system engineering writings, which should help them shorten the time it takes to realize their return on investment on an asset management initiative.

Conclusion

It would take many more pages of text if I were to list everyone that has played a part in making my career enjoyable.  Just let it suffice to say that in the maintenance/ reliability, and asset management communities, there are many skilled professionals willing to share their expertise and help others to have successful careers.  At the end of the day, through my lectures or writings, I hope that many of you are currently having successful careers –  now and will continue to do so in the future.  I hope that I have contributed to the body of knowledge that our predecessors began developing and have helped provide a foundation for additional improvements of the maintenance/ reliability/ asset management processes into the future.  As I leave for retirement – I wish you all the best in the future.

Sincerely,

Terry Wireman

As Terry Wireman departs Vesta, we invite you to join our newsletter subscription to stay connected to his thoughts and commentary on industry topics. Be sure to visit our site for his bi-weekly blogs which will continue for many more months to come.

To subscribe to our blog click here now. 

Search All Categories: