How to make the case for better case management

Integrate your work and case management systems to help control costs responsibly, David Berger says

By David Berger

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  • Implementing a framework for better managing your assets in line with best practices, such as compliance with ISO 55000 standards or specific regulatory guidelines (e.g., the handling and disposing of hazardous waste)
  • Regular reporting on asset inventory and condition to ensure there are no signs of unexpected asset degradation (e.g., water/wastewater infrastructure)
  • Proof of a comprehensive PM program, including identification of critical assets, critical parts, and critical PMs, as well as proof of satisfactory on-time completion of the work
  • Comprehensive records kept of anomalous asset behavior, such as a downtime event in the nuclear industry
  • Accurate recording of any incidents involving health, safety, and the environment, such as an oil pipeline leak, air quality issues in a given plant, or any lost time due to injury
  • Tight controls in place for critical processes, such as electronic signatures required for changes to a chemical formulation or any maintenance work orders in a pharmaceutical manufacturer
  • Proof of accurate and timely minutes kept for critical meetings (for example, safety meetings) as well as proof of executed action items
  • Achieving satisfactory results of any formal and/or random inspections or audits by regulators or their agents, including addressing any deficiencies within a reasonable time frame, depending on severity.

There is no better business case than achieving compliance with a regulator. Many of the line items above can be converted into a business case justifying a case management system by adding relevant costs, opportunity costs, or benefits.

For example, the last bullet above is an ideal candidate for building a business case: A case management system can be used to record and carefully manage the process for addressing each audit deficiency. What activities are included in this? Initiating and assigning a case and launching an investigation are the first steps, of course, but the process also includes conducting root-cause analysis, assessing risks, determining costs and benefits of alternative solutions, running alternatives through a management-of-change process, and implementing approved changes. These are the formal steps within the case management flow as shown in Exhibit 1.

Integrated work and case management: A better solution

Asset managers today are faced with risk levels on the rise like never before because of increasing asset complexity and cost, senior management pressure to reduce costs, and regulatory compliance obligations. To help mitigate the risk and manage stakeholder expectations, a business case should be established to integrate work management and case management in terms of processes and a supporting CMMS. Benefits will flow from two major categories: productivity improvements and the opportunity cost associated with risk reduction. In addition, maintainers and others can initiate cases to investigate improvement ideas, such as changes to PM frequencies, job plan steps, safety procedures, parts and tools used, and operator/maintainer training.

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