Big Data Analytics / Software

Management of Change and your CMMS

David Berger outlines an approach to more successfully manage change, including relevant features available from today’s more advanced CMMS packages.

By David Berger

One of the most costly issues faced by asset managers today is the inability to effectively manage changes relevant to their equipment, processes, information systems and people.  For example, if an unexpected failure occurs and a quick fix solution is implemented, does anyone properly follow up with an investigation, risk assessment, and cost/benefit analysis of more permanent alternative solutions, instead of a patchwork of bandaid solutions?  Is there proper documentation and an audit trail recording these steps, including version control on all documents? This column outlines an approach to more successfully manage change, including relevant features available from today’s more advanced CMMS packages.

Some definitions

Management of Change (MoC) – This term can be defined as a formalized process for identifying, assessing, and tracking material modifications to assets, inventory, policies and procedures, documentation, technology, training, signage, and so on.

Change Management (CM) – Not to be confused with the broader MoC, Change Management deals primarily with modifications to human behavior.  Any change contemplated under MoC should be accompanied by a change management plan for managing expectations of employees.  For example, a decision to outsource supply chain management of spare parts inventory may not be popular with your unionized employees, despite a positive return on investment expected by senior management.  Depending on how the change is managed, the outsourcing project could end in a huge success partnering with a strategic outsource company, or an unprecedented disaster caused by employee morale and productivity plummeting, worker backlash in the form of work-to-rule or strikes, and/or a public relations nightmare.

Document Management – Another subset of MoC is the control of digitized records, including creation, modification, storage, retrieval, and versioning.  Sample documents are engineering drawings, equipment manuals, training material, detailed procedures and photos.

The big picture – Case management

Just as Change Management and Document Management are components of Management of Change, similarly, the Management of Change process is a component of the higher-level Case Management workflow.  Case Management includes five major steps as follows:

  1. Case initiation – A case should be opened whenever you are faced with the unexpected, such as an unexpected failure, an incident, a near miss, a recall by the equipment manufacturer, an asset that is in the wrong location, a job that took much quicker to complete than expected, and other “good” and “bad” surprises. 
  2. Investigation – Every case requires some level of investigation including a mix of data collection and research, such as taking measurements, observation, interviews, perusing documents, taking photographs and videos, and other ways to gather relevant information.
  3. Analysis – A modern CMMS package provides a variety of analysis tools to help interpret the results of the investigation, including Pareto analysis, root cause analysis, correlation, regression, etc.  Sometimes analysis reveals gaps in the data, which in turn leads to further investigation and analysis.  This cycle continues until viable alternative actions emerge.
  4. Risk Management – Just like a priority (based on risk) is assigned to every work order in the work management workflow, so too is risk associated with every case in the case management workflow. 
  5. Management of Change – For “good surprises”, such as an improvement idea, a cost/benefit analysis of alternative approaches is conducted.  For “bad surprises”, such as an unexpected recurring problem with a given part, the probability and impact of various risk mitigation approaches must be assessed relative to the “do nothing” option, as input into the cost/benefit of each alternative solution.

Possible changes in MoC

There are four main categories of change that are assessed in the Management of Change Process.  These are described below.

  1. Corrective work – This is usually short-term work providing a temporary “bandaid” solution, such as a work order issued to clean up a spill, or temporarily patch a leak.  Unfortunately, this is where many companies end their MoC program, with one bandaid solution after another, without assessing and implementing a permanent fix.
  2. Work to prevent recurrence – This implies a long-term or permanent solution, such as issuing a work order to replace a faulty component instead of constantly repairing it.  In some cases, a campaign or project consisting of multiple work orders is launched, such as replacing a component in every vehicle in your fleet, or a project to replace all of the windows in a given building.
  3. Changes to the work program – Some changes may involve activities as opposed to work governed by a work order, like modifications to the work program. The work program includes asset hierarchy, bill of materials, asset master data, maintenance policies, failure tree (ie, problem, cause, action codes), and job plans (ie, frequency, condition-based triggers, detailed procedures, performance and quality standards, materials and tools required, skills required).  For example, perhaps the MoC process shows that the inspection frequency for a given asset can be reduced with only a minor impact on risk.
  4. Changes outside the work program – Some changes may involve activities that do not impact the work program directly, such as changes to the equipment design, equipment operation, training program, or organizational structure.  For example, the MoC process may reveal that the most cost-effective solution to an excessive downtime problem is to reduce the operating speed of the production line, and improve the training of operators.

Management of change steps

Not every case requires a formal MoC process – only those cases that have more significant risk or improvement potential.  The first step is to establish business rules for assessing which cases must be subjected to MoC.  The most common filter for determining MoC applicability is probability and potential impact of making or not making the change, incorporating health, safety, environmental, financial, operational and other factors. 

If deemed necessary, then the MoC process begins with compiling all of the necessary information so that the appropriate approvals can be obtained.  Information gathered includes the following:

  • The technical basis for alternative solutions, including results of any analyses conducted (eg, root cause analysis and Fishbone diagram showing the most probable cause of a catastrophic near miss)
  • The cost/benefit of alternative solutions relative to status quo, including risk scoring
  • The timeline, resource requirements and work plan associated with each solution
  • Any stakeholders that may be affected by the changes contemplated
  • Change management considerations such as organizational readiness, training requirements, organizational design opportunities, and communications planned
David Berger, a Certified Management Consultant (C.M.C.) registered in Ontario, Canada, is a Principal of Western Management Consultants, based in the Toronto officeDavid Berger, a Certified Management Consultant (C.M.C.) registered in Ontario, Canada, is a Principal of Western Management Consultants, based in the Toronto office. David has written more than 200 articles on a variety of topics such as maintenance management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. In Plant Services magazine, he has written a monthly column on maintenance management in the United States, as well as three very extensive reviews of maintenance management systems available in North America. David has done extensive work in the areas of strategy, information technology and business process re-engineering. He can be reached at

If multiple solutions are possible, then a recommended approach should be presented to management for approval, in addition to alternatives considered.  For larger campaigns and projects, the expectation should be the same as that of any major project pending approval, in order to give it proper management attention.  This is critical because many large companies fail to follow through on their campaigns, such as replicating a major repair or replacement at all of their facilities, since it is not tracked and managed with the same level of rigour and visibility to senior management as is a major capital works project.

Management of Change does not end with the approval process. The key to success will be to continue to manage the case, including any campaigns, projects, work orders, activities, documents and other deliverables relevant to the case. A case manager should be responsible for coordinating the case overall, even though individual deliverables of the case may be executed and managed by other resources. The case manager can use the more sophisticated CMMS packages to get the big picture on all work and activities tied to the case, in order to ensure case elements are tracking on time and on budget. Typically, the case manager is the asset owner or a designate (eg, a reliability engineer).

Read David Berger's monthly column, Asset Manager.