If you were asked, “What is the opposite of control in one word?” what would you say? Among the people I have asked, most have said “chaos.” I would tend to agree.
Do you feel your department is under control? Be honest. If your answer is “no,” the next question is, how do you gain control? First, let’s define terms:
Control: In this context, Merriam-Webster defines control as “to reduce the incidence or severity of especially to innocuous (harmless, minimal) levels”
Chaos: Merriam-Webster defines chaos as “complete confusion and disorder: a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything”
Which of the two are you?
And how do you gain control?
You gain control by having a plan and planning. A plan is a documented projection of future activity. Plans are foundational to control. Planning is the way in which we discuss the goals, objectives, and tasks that we need to accomplish as well as the management of those tasks for execution against the plan. Plans and planning are important because they control what the department does and how it allocates resources. They also facilitate communication with outside interests from other support groups.
The only alternative to planning is chaos – hence, the chaos seen in so many organizations without planning and execution of said plans. Planning is how you gain efficiency. It saves time, effort, and money. Organizations that plan are more proactive, focused, and goal-oriented. They fight fewer fires and spend less time reacting to surprises.So, a few questions.
Does your organization have an overall business plan and planning function? I’m sure it does. It probably has a strategic plan/planners and an operational plan/planner. It may even have a tactical plan/planners.
Does the organization have a contingency plan/planners? Probably.
What about an emergency plan/planners? It should.
Does it have a production plan/planners? I’m sure it does.
So why is it, when we come to maintenance, there is no need for a plan/planners?
I have heard plant managers, directors, and even COOs say that there is no need for maintenance planning. The problem that arises is the simplicity of justification.
Within the first year of converting a maintenance technician to a planner, you can easily achieve a 30% wrench time, already giving you 10 more labor hours per week of work or a quarter of a headcount. By the end of year two, you can easily hit a 40% wrench time, which gives you 50 more labor hours of work each week, or a 1.25 headcount for the price of none!
What if I said I could give you the labor equivalent of a few extra FTEs to complete work, without you spending a dime? Would you take advantage of that offer?
If you really want to gain control of your maintenance department, this is the place to start. You must begin the planning process. Building a plan is the first step to turning around a reactive maintenance department.