The Art of Implementing RCM

I am a passionate believer in RCM. Over the years I have come to the conclusion that it is a fundamental part of any maintenance, asset-management or risk-management program. But still I see companies struggle with the concepts, the implementation and how to embed the process as a permanent solution.

This is not an issue about RCM, it's an issue about change! This is a list of tips I use regularly to help companies to place RCM at the heart of their asset management function. 1. Its not a project, its a program. Ever noticed how methodologies like RBI and SIS are easier to make permanent? Wondering why? Because they are linked firmly to peoples roles and to regular activities and processes within the company. In short they are vertical while RCM is horizontal, it belongs to everyone and no-one.

When these methods are implemented it is for a specific discipline, and they use it as the way we do things now. When RCM is implemented it is for everybody and nobody owns it. If RCM is going to become part of the way we do business here then it needs to be threaded through roles and activities throughout the enterprise.

Tie it to purchasing, design engineering, insert it in contracts for new assets, incorporate it in the talent growth strategies and the succession planning, make sure the managers attend courses, (number one) and their managers, institute triggers to initiate and reevaluate strategies in the system. RCM is not a project to be implemented, its a program to be lived.

3. Don't change the process - change the implementation approach.

The classic error. Streamliners for decades have been cutting away (sometimes dangerously) at the RCM process in order to get it in quicker, with less resources etcetera. The result is a watering down of the process, minimizing its results, and dramatically sidelining its value in the enterprise.

There is nothing more frightening and infuriating to watch than a company who has failed at implementing RCM, suddenly decide to water down the methodology rather than look at the flaws in implementation.

You want it done quickly, change the implementation process - not the analytical process! Easy.

4. Get metrics.

When I first wrote the RCM Scorecard in my book "The Maintenance Scorecard" the reaction was incredible. People had been looking for a long time for some way to measure the effectiveness of RCM. Unfortunately, when I see "RCM Scorecards" today they are invariably lists of direct-performance only indicators, or indicators that are just dead wrong!

Focus on what RCM achieves, this will drive overall improvement very rapidly in my experience. This means casting the net wider than just direct performance metrics, and making sure that all your metrics support modern asset management thinking.

5. Support the "changers". The people spearheading this change are exposed. They will be targeted by everyone who fared well under the "old way" of doing things and they will meet the full force of organizational resistance.

Your role; Protect and Serve. Show off their achievements, promote them three levels at once, make it clear that they are taking the company to a new level of profitability, and help them to publish their successes.

6. Have a follow up plan. Okay, so that was good. What's your next trick? Give the program legs by showing what the next level is. Whole-of-L ife costing, Net Present Value models, Asset Data improvements, Human Error etcetera; all examples of next steps after RCM initial implementation.

The beauty of this method is that it is a structure, not just an approach. And many things fit into this structure.

7. Internalize it. The number one reason for lack of success at embedding RCM - What happens when the consultants leave? Can you continue to do it, grow people who will take it over, and continue the process as a living program? (To quote Moubray)

Develop trainers, develop material (Don't steal it, develop it!) and tie it into ongoing administration activities.

Training for reliability, and in particular for RCM, needs to be a permanent obsession - not an activity to be carried out!

The #1 cause of RCM failures is when the local "champion" leaves. Wonderful, so now that you know this take action to avoid it. Get a few heroes to head up the program, make sure it is covered by a corporate policy stating the succession planning objectives along with every other area to make sure it is a program not a project.

8. Track Progress Train your facilitators to become masterful presenters. Get them to present the results after every single analysis. make sure they focus on teh Value Quadrant of benefits in asset management and make sure that all fo the results are communicated as quickly and forcefully to senior executives. Report on it regularly, then go and see the people who receive the reports and present it to them. Tell the stories of heoic analytical work and of the phenomenal results that were achieved. People are doing a lot of work to get this in place. Your role as the manager is to make sure they get recognized. Do not assume that approval of funds is equal to management support. It isn't - its just an approval to spend cash. I was working recently in a company int he middle east where after each training session the course would be visited by one of the companies Executive VP's or Presidents. Now thats support... 9. Have a facilitation plan Hope isn't a strategy. Plan out the resources, make sure you have enough facilitators and team members trained to make sure that you do not overly tax the workforce. Exhaustion leads to failure nothing surer. Schedule the meetings, plan out the resources, make sure that you have the coverage of all relevant assets and systems that you want to cover and have a plan and time-line to get them done as well as to get the recommendations implemented. Get the meetings authorized and if you need to temporarily back fill certain positions then do it! If you can organize to spend the additional funds to have some dedicated resources to completing the RCM analyses throughout the  chosen assets, then do it! Nothing works better than motivate, capable and trained people to et the job done. Your asset base deserves it, and if you haven't heard by now - RCM will achieve the results to warrant it! No effort to implement RCM lasts forever, the initial workload is large, but the benefits are great. Your goal is to get through the initial bow wave and into running mode as quickly as possible in order to "bank the benefits". 10. Do not just target "critical" assets  This is vital! Criticality is a curse. If you walk into theCEO's office and say to her "you know that critical asset that was working well?" "You will be happy to know that it is going to continue working well" "Uh right, thanks. Don't leave the door open on your way out" Now, if you change that to "We took this asset that was causing us $2 million in downtime over the past three years and we believe we will have increased the potential producing capability by at least that much over the next three years!" Now thats another story... A momentum builder and a way to make sure that you project gets the focus that it deserves. This is RCM after all... The problem with critical assets is that...they're critical right? Most everybody knows that they are critical. And as a result they get lots of attention, funds, resources, and basically whatever they require. Critical assets generally work well. So not a great choice for building momentum.