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Asset management audit checklist: What condition is your CMMS in?

Feb. 9, 2021
David Berger says this self-assessment checklist can help you get handle on what’s going right, and what to work on next.

Ever wonder why some problems seem to persist despite multiple versions and vendors of CMMS software over the years? In many cases, the problems have little to do with your selection of CMMS and more to do with its implementation, and/or the processes and management issues around the system.

About the Author: David Berger

One approach to addressing your problems is to baseline your asset management operations, find and prioritize the issues, determine root causes, and cost-justify a plan for improvement. It is the role of senior leadership to audit asset management practices on a regular basis, typically every one to three years, and track improvements in the interim via key performance indicators (KPIs), dashboards, and regular reporting. At the very least, before embarking on a major CMMS upgrade or replacement project, a detailed audit should be conducted to prioritize needs.

In order to ensure company-wide commitment, the audit should be steered by a committee including representation from top management, labor, IT, operations, maintenance, engineering, head office (if applicable), and in some cases, an external consultant. A consultant can be useful to supplement the company’s workforce, conduct confidential interviews, minimize wasted effort by contributing specialized skills and experience, and provide an objective third-party opinion.

An audit of your asset management function will determine the efficiency and effectiveness of your existing operations. This is accomplished through a variety of techniques including interviews with all levels of maintenance and operations personnel, and work sampling to determine maintenance worker utilization. Information flow and bottleneck analyses are used to identify organizational, process, and system strengths and weaknesses, from work requests to management reporting and follow-up.

The following checklist is but a small sample of the questions to be answered in an audit, in an effort to uncover the major issues.

CMMS/EAM system

  • What is the current level of work backlog?
  • What should it be?
  • Are maintenance jobs planned, complete with material requirements, estimated labor hours and skills, and coordinated operations downtime?
  • Are planned hours and material usage compared with actuals? How does management react to unfavorable variances?
  • What is the ratio of maintenance policies (i.e., fail-based to use-based to condition-based maintenance)?
  • Is maintenance of assets properly executed by the right people, at the appropriate time?
  • Are all high-cost and high-volume inventory items on a min/max and EOQ (Economic Order Quantity) control basis?
  • What is the spare parts stockout frequency? Can it be improved?
  • How many rush orders are there per week? Can this be reduced?
  • What is the dollar value of obsolete inventory?
  • What is the level of downtime for each asset? Asset type/category?
  • What reports are used effectively by management? workers?
  • What information is missing? Why?
  • What percentage of the features and functions on the CMMS are actually used?
  • Are good monitoring and analysis tools available on the CMMS, and are these tools being used?
  • Is the CMMS adequately integrated with software such as ERP, GIS, document management, and condition monitoring applications?

Culture

  • What do operators and their supervisors say about the ability and attitude of those that maintain assets, including workers and management?
  • What is the attitude of the senior leadership team toward asset management?
  • What is the level of collaboration between departments?
  • Is there frequent and open communications between management and workers?
  • If lack of trust is an issue, what are the root causes?

Strategy

  • Is there a formal EAM strategy, fully shared and understood by workers and management?
  • What is the budgeted versus actual cost of internal and contract labor, spare parts, and overtime for the past month? Year-to-date?
  • What are the goals and objectives of EAM according to maintenance management? Maintenance workers? Operations? Top management?
  • What targets have been established for meeting stated goals and objectives (e.g., expected level of downtime, tradesperson utilization, overtime, response time, MTBF, spare parts inventory level and turns)?
  • Are there targets for the short and long term?
  • What measures and incentives are in place to ensure that targets will be met?
  • Are there recognized drivers for the measures such as customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, risk management, and operational excellence?
  • Are expectations well understood? For example, “Operations would like to see a three-minute response time for any major downtime incident.”
  • Have the measures been baselined? For example, “Current level of downtime = 4%”
  • Have the measures been benchmarked to determine reasonableness of expectations?
  • Have action items (i.e., projects) been identified to ensure targets will be met?
  • Is it clear what the expected contribution is to be for each project, in meeting performance targets?
  • Are there formal project plans for each project?

Governance

  • Does the current organizational structure adequately support the EAM strategy?
  • What is the ideal supervisor:tradesperson ratio?
  • What is the role of the supervisor? As perceived by the tradespeople? As perceived by the supervisors?
  • Is there an established succession plan?
  • Are resident mechanics desirable in certain operations departments?
  • Are policies and procedures complete, current, clearly defined, and documented?

Facilities

  • Are maintenance storage and work areas clean and tidy?
  • Is there adequate space to service equipment efficiently and effectively?
  • Are there adequate machines and hand tools?
  • Does the layout of maintenance areas reflect proper attention to safety, material flow, accessibility, comfort, and so on?

Human resources management

  • Are jobs performed sub-standard as a result of missing skills (e.g., trades, engineering)?
  • Are shifts resourced with the appropriate level of experience and skill?
  • Is there redundancy for critical processes?
  • Are there staggered shifts to ensure minimum overtime?
  • Is seniority an issue? For example, are the most junior mechanics on the off-shift with little supervision?
  • Is there a separate shift crew for preventive maintenance (PM)? If possible, is PM done when operations are shut down or slow, for example, on weekends? Do operators assist with PM in any way, to ensure there is a sense of ownership of the equipment?
  • What is the level of spending on training?
  • How much of the training dollars is spent on maintenance workers versus management?
  • Is training retention and effectiveness tracked?
  • Is there adequate opportunity and incentive to upgrade to higher skill levels? To cross-train?
  • Are there clearly defined hiring and promotion criteria?
  • Is testing used to ensure practical and theoretical knowledge before hiring or promoting employees?
  • Do job descriptions exist for each asset management position that reflect accurately their responsibility?
  • Does each line item on a job description provide for quality and performance standards, as well as the skills required to do the job?
  • Is remuneration tied closely and fairly to personal, team, and enterprise-wide performance targets?
  • Are there clearly-defined career paths?
  • Are absenteeism, tardiness, and discipline records tracked and analyzed for appropriate follow-up?
Asset Manager

This article is part of our monthly Asset Manager column. Read more from David Berger.

About the Author

David Berger | P.Eng. (AB), MBA, president of The Lamus Group Inc.

David Berger, P.Eng. (AB), MBA, is president of The Lamus Group Inc., a consulting firm that provides advice and training to extract maximum performance, quality and value from your physical assets, processes, information systems and organizational design. Based in Toronto, Berger has held senior positions in industry, including for two large manufacturers, and senior roles in consulting. He has written more than 450 articles on a variety of topics such as asset management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. Contact him at [email protected].

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