Make it easy to get CMMS data from the pros

Probably the second hardest thing to do in working with a CMMS is to get the people who really know the maintenance jobs to use job instructions or procedures. The hardest is to get them to write the procedures and instructions. Surprisingly, one of the easier things is getting them to mark up or correct instructions that others have written. (Okay, maybe that one’s not surprising.)

Procedures are an essential part of any preventive maintenance program, but some workers are threatened in two ways by job instructions. First, there is the mistaken belief that they are giving away their job security by enabling anyone who can read to do their job. Secondly, there is the feeling that once they write instructions, they are fair game for anyone to criticize their work and challenge their capability. Let’s tackle these fears one at a time:

Marie Getsug of Commissioning Agents, Inc. (, offered some good thoughts on the first issue at the 2013 SMRP Conference. She pointed out that procedures are in no way a replacement for qualified people and that managers must make it their job to see that this perception does not emerge. Qualified people are needed to write procedures. Solid procedures can improve estimating and help prevent repetitive repairs, but qualified people still need to do the work. If anything, the organization needs its best qualified techs writing procedures. This can actually add to their workload.  It is also important to capture procedures for work that only gets done once a year, especially if the tasks are shutdown work that is performed several places at once during the outage. It’s easy to forget the subtleties of annual work, and it’s very hard to be two or three places at once to teach tradespeople and contractors about them.

The second issue, exposure to correction, can also be managed effectively. When procedures need to be changed, either to update or clarify them, managers should make it easy to do so. In this way updates become routine, instead of personal challenges to the writers. If procedural notes are an expected part of job closure, the pain is reduced considerably. For some thoughts on making this happen you might want to check out

To help the process along, celebrate and reward the creation of maintenance procedures and job instructions. It might also make sense to award credit for updates and reuse of procedures that apply to multiple assets. The more quality instructions that are available to all techs and operators, the better the organization’s chances are to achieve the benefits of preventive maintenance and to support the use of professional maintenance planners.

Read Stanton McGroarty's monthly column Strategic Maintenance.