Podcast Masterminds in Maintenance

S2:E6 The 7 Deadly Sins of the CMMS with Simon Murray

Ryan Chan

Simon Murray is the Founder and a Reliability Coach at Your Maintenance Coach, a community for maintenance teams who want to go to the next level.


In this week’s episode of Masterminds in Maintenance, we are excited to have Simon Murray, Founder of Your Maintenance Coach, back on the show! Simon shares with us a new campaign he has been working on to explain the consistent mistakes he has seen people make in setting up and running their system. Listen today!

Episode Show Notes

  • A sneak peek of “The 7 Deadly Sins of the CMMS” campaign. 
  • Why Simon was interested in speaking on this specific topic.
  • For those who are interested in hearing the full talk, where can they go?

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00:02 Ryan Chan: Welcome to Masterminds in Maintenance, a podcast for those with new ideas in maintenance. I’m your host, Ryan. I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. Each week, I’ll be meeting with a guest who’s had an idea for how to shake things up in the maintenance and reliability industry. Sometimes the idea failed, sometimes it made their business more successful, and other times their idea revolutionized an entire industry. Today, I’m super excited. We’ve got Simon Murray back here on the show with us. Simon is the founder of Your Maintenance Coach, a community for maintenance teams who wanna get to the next level. Welcome back to our show, Simon. Really excited to learn from you today.

00:34 Simon Murray: Thanks, Ryan. Great to be here again.

00:36 RC: Just in case we’ve got some new listeners, could you start by kicking us off with briefly sharing a little bit more about yourself, your background, and how you’re introduced to this field of maintenance and reliability?

00:47 SM: I was probably about 16, 17, and my dad, at the time, was working for a company called Crown Holdings, big, large, global packaging company. And they sent him to Japan to be trained as a TPM facilitator. And the stuff he was bringing back, even though he was only 16, 17, the way he was talking about things really just sparked a bit of an interest in all things improvement. And I found myself working in manufacturing as an engineering manager, and I really enjoyed it, just taking that something that was broken and taking it through a journey of improvement to being fixed. And over about 12 years there, I worked for lots of different industries, say, from bricks, to bread, and pretty much everything in between. And what I found is as I was moving through these different roles, I ended up in positions where I was really helping people to start on that reliability journey, really helping people to move out of chaos and a really reactive environment. There’s no magic wand, but there’s certainly a bit of a patent to how to help businesses do that. So back in 2012, I decided the best way for me to help more people like myself was to take those learnings and start up my own business, and go out. So since 2012, I’ve been out training and coaching other people in how to really get started and accelerate that reliability journey.

02:03 RC: I know that you’ve been working on a campaign called The 7 Deadly Sins of a CMMS. And obviously, UpKeep us, we are… We do categorize ourselves as a CMMS. Why did you decide to talk about the seven deadly sins? And ultimately, what are some of the consistent mistakes that you’ve seen people make?

02:25 SM: There’s very few things that pretty much every maintenance and reliability team have in common, and one of them is a CMMS. Everywhere I go, someone’s using some sort of system. Because it impacts so many different people through the business, and that’s why there’s a maintenance team, but there’s also… There’s other departments that can utilize it. When it’s not set off right, the amount of waste that’s put through the business is just huge. When I’m talking to people about how engaged they are in the maintenance journey, lots of times I’m seeing resentment because the CMMS hasn’t been set up to help them. And it becomes more of a chore than a tool to help improvements.

03:01 RC: Yeah. I’m curious, Simon. Just out of qualitative feedback and your qualitative experiences, what percentage of companies don’t set up a CMMS correctly when first implementing it?

03:15 SM: The vast majority of my work over the last three years has been helping people either set them up correctly to start with, or going back in and helping them to fix it. At least 50, maybe even 70%s don’t go into setting up their CMMS with a proper road map of how they’re gonna use it.

03:32 RC: Can you share with us what are the seven deadly sins?

03:35 SM: I can, I can. Okay. So number one, I see too many people who buy a CMMS as a… Just as a tool to trigger a preventative maintenance schedule, just so they don’t forget about stuff. Well, look. If you’re gonna… If that’s all you need it for, just use Excel or your calendar. Your CMMS is a much bigger tool to that. Let’s have a look at what the real customer… Who the real customer is and what they want. So from an operations perspective, the operations team, they wanna be able to put good job requests in or identify defects. But your maintenance planner, he needs a tool that’s got some real structure behind it. Your tradesmen? Well, your tradesmen are really probably just looking for a nice, sexy interface on their iPad so they can go and get things done. And then your reliability engineers, well, they want really good analysis of clean history. And that’s even before we start to talk to people like the finance team, or OHNS, or quality. So when I go into a business and I’m talking to all these different departments, and all of a sudden, they’re thinking, “Well, actually we can… All these different people in the business can leverage this tool, and it gives it a lot more momentum.

04:39 SM: And of course, the more people that you can involve in a system and change in a business, the more successful that’s going to be. That’s deadly sin number one. We bought the tool, and we’ve just left it with maintenance. Number two, we’ve trained everybody in the system, but not in the processes. Let’s imagine we’ve got a great business and they’ve gone out and they’ve… All the different departments understand how they’re gonna use this CMMS. And we’ve chosen the right bit of software. Then what do people normally do? Well, we send everyone out to training. What happens? They all come back with a different interpretation on how they’re gonna use that CMMS. One of the challenges with vendor training is that when you’ve got clients who could be a small family bakery, or they could be a billion dollar mine using the same system, it’s impossible for that vendor to really deliver the message of how they can get the best use from the system. What I really encourage is understand your workflow and what you wanna get out to that CMMS first. Understand when somebody raises a request, what’s it gonna look like, how is it gonna be processed, and what does the tradesmen need to see to get that work done.” And then start bringing in this understanding of who are all the other business users, who are all the other customers.

05:55 SM: Again, what I really encourage, work out what you wanna train people in and then just train your people in the relevant bits. So number two, we train people in the system, but not in the processes. Deadly sin number three, now take a deep breath with this ’cause I see this nearly everywhere. We let the asset tree get out of control. So everybody starts off their CMMS, and, of course, the asset tree is the core of the system. It’s used by everybody pretty much every time they go in the system. And for that reason, it just must be right. Often too many or too few levels. The second big problem that I see with asset trees is they’re not in a logical order. And the last one, and I see this mostly with corporates is strange naming conventions. Keep your asset name nice and simple, so everybody knows what it is, and capture all of that other information in the background somewhat. So that’s number three. We let the asset tree get out of control.

06:49 SM: Deadly sin number four, people have no PM naming convention. If we look at who’s looking at that PM or work order description as we go through the process, well, often it would start with the maintenance planner. He wants to be able to look at that description and understand really what that job is straight away. What do I need to do with it, if anything? Then of course we go off to the maintenance scheduler, now the scheduler needs to know various things about the job, when can I schedule it? Who’s gonna do it? Do I need equipment running or stopped? And if he can tell all of that from the title, from the description, it makes life a lot easier. And then of course, finally, we’ve got the tradesman, the tradesman wants to look at his job list on his iPad or his pile of paper each day and just also do a little bit of a schedule for himself for the day.

07:36 SM: He doesn’t wanna be going through all of the detail. Very few systems I found actually bring all of this information to a nice clearly visible screen where the these three people can rely on it quite quickly. So let me give you a quick example of the naming convention I use and this is what I’ve seen in great places and I’ve kind of borrowed and adapted. I start off 3W as an example would be a three weekly PM, underscore, then I’m gonna look at which tradesman is gonna do it. So my I might put an abbreviation for mech Alec Lube. So three or four letters tells me who’s going to do the work, underscore, and then I’m gonna put in an S or an R. Do I want the line stopped or does the equipment need to be running to do this PM? Again, great one for the scheduler, great one for the tradesman to be able to look at the description of a PM and know whether he can do it with equipment running or stopped. Then next one, underscore and often I will then put an SP in there, if that PM needs spare parts and the reason for that is lots of our PMs, when they get generated, the planner often doesn’t touch them, they just flow straight through to scheduling, ’cause most of our PMs, they’re inspections, they don’t need spare parts.

08:50 SM: So some can slip through the cracks sometimes. So I always make sure in the description I’ve got an SP and that’s a flag to the planner to say, “Hey, you need to do something with this.” Final underscore, brief description of the work. So in that case, we would have 3W_mech_stop_S_SP_mixerbearingchange, so simple and everyone in the system knows what that description is. A bit of hard work getting in and settled to start with, but once they’re there, it saves a massive amount of time all the way through. Deadly sin number five, we can work around the system and not only we can work around the system, we do work around the system. Now, this isn’t so much about the tactics of the way you’ve set your CMMS up, this is about leadership and management, and it’s really important because when things are being done outside of the software system, that’s the things we’re not capturing, that’s history we haven’t got, that’s costs we’re not understanding and that’s break downs and reliability problems we’re not going to try and fix. This is when the maintenance manager gets an email. “Can you go and fix this for me? Can you look into this?” or the tradesman gets a tap on the shoulder, “Hey, the system takes too long, could you just go and have a look at this one for us?”

10:09 SM: Sometimes that’s gonna happen in an emergency environments and sometimes there’s a break down, obviously, that’s what’s gonna happen, but lots of times, these things happen when it’s not an emergency situation, and we’ve got things that should actually just go through the process. So deadly sin number five, people can work outside of the system. Deadly sin number six, we have no system health checks. Every maintenance team has lots of KPIs, but what I never see is KPIs that are actually dedicated towards the CMMS. Very rarely do I see a set of measures that show us is our CMMS in good shape? Have we got duplicate work orders in there? Have we got trades and users listed who are no longer working in the business? First of all, there needs to be an owner of the CMMS. Now, this could be, if it’s a group level, obviously, some large businesses will have someone across the group if it’s an individual factory, often, this falls on the planner, but then there also needs to be a trigger fairly regularly, whether it’s three-monthly or six-monthly, the more regular, more frequently, the better, to actually go in the system and do some housekeeping, do some cleaning.

11:17 SM: So, deadly sin number six, we have no system health checks, no one’s really doing that housekeeping. Okay, last but not least, deadly sin number seven, we don’t improve, upgrade or nurture our CMMS. People buy it and they don’t, they set it up once and don’t continue to invest in that program. And the reality is, what we need to be doing now, especially as CMMS, is move online and it’s subscription services, and there’s constantly new features being added. You need to be working with your CMMS service provider to understand what’s new. The business needs to understand the return on investments of that CMMS. And I’ll give you an example, I worked with a client a while ago and we had, I think we were about 13, 14 tradesmen on this site, it’s a large, large site and the tradesmen were still using paper work orders, so planning process, everything was being followed really well, but when those work orders were released to the line, they were on paper and we wanted to move this to iPads. Now, the justification obviously, when we’re putting the CAPEX through to try and get the money for the iPads, the senior management is looking, “Oh, you’re only gonna save a little bit in paper.”

12:26 SM: So the numbers didn’t marry up, but when we really dug deeper, what we found and we did a trial, and what we found was by the pure nature of the technician having his iPad with him all the time, the amount of information that was captured was just phenomenal. Every little stoppage here and there was now being captured, all of his spare parts he was using on jobs that previously he wouldn’t write down, he’s now capturing. So the wealth of information and the quality of that information was just phenomenal and while that was still quite difficult to put dollars around, in the end, we did and the payback for those iPads ended up being less than a month. So the seventh, the lastly deadly sin, we don’t improve, upgrade or nurture our CMMS. And that’s the seven deadly sins, Ryan.

13:13 RC: Alright, well, Simon there’s quite a bit of information there. If you had to boil it down to what’s the most common and let’s call it the most deadly and the area that you see most businesses having the biggest opportunity to improve, what would you say that one is?

13:32 SM: But the biggest one, where I always like to start is around that asset tree because it just gets everybody talking about it, it gets everyone, and as I said with the asset tree ’cause everybody goes in there every day. That’s the biggest frustration I find with people. If you’ve got assets missing, if I go in to raise a job request from my machine and that machine is not in the asset tree, well I’m not gonna go in there again. So really you’ve got to have that asset tree right? Everything else branches off from it as you develop your CMMS system.

14:02 RC: Right so I could imagine that kind of stems a lot of other potential secondary tertiary problems. If the asset’s not in there, then again you go back to one of your other deadly sins, which is working around the system. It’s like okay, well if the asset’s not in there, maybe I don’t need to record this work because it’s not important.

14:22 SM: That’s right, and it’s the recording of the work. But also, when you look at businesses that really leverage their CMMS, it is seen as the single source of truth for the whole business. So I do a lot with food manufacturers and when we have a food safety audit that auditor will spend a lot of time looking at the CMMS in the maintenance system, and the easiest way to have a good audit is to be able to display real confidence that everything is well organized in your system. And so then yeah, if your assets are there it takes a lot of questions out.

14:54 RC: Is there a good standard that you would recommend to all of our listeners to get a better picture of what you mean by an organized asset tree? Is there an ISO standard that you follow?

15:06 SM: I’ll be honest, I’m not a great one for the ISO standards. So what I find, look, I work predominantly with small, medium-sized businesses. Often I’m working with under-resourced maintenance teams, and when we start to look at implementing some of the ISO standards which are usually developed for much larger organizations, heavily resourced in some cases come out of the military, they don’t always translate to an easy implementation. So what I look for is take some of those guidelines. You go through Google, look at all the different standards, all the different examples, but really what you’re looking for is just something that’s nice and easy to follow.

15:48 RC: Yeah. Well hey Simon, I know that we got the Cliff Notes version of the Seven Deadly Sins. Where can our listeners go to hear the full talk? Because I know that this is very, very top of mind to all of our UpKeep users and obviously UpKeep listeners today.

16:04 SM: Great yeah, so on my website I will put a download in so people can go on and download a PDF and I’ll put some more information and some examples in there. And then on June the 25th, I’ll be running a webinar which shows where this all fits into one of my programs Legal Time Accelerator. The registration links are all on the website as well.

16:25 RC: Alright, I’m looking forward to that Simon. And then lastly, where can all of our listeners go to connect with you and watch you and follow you on your journey?

16:34 SM: Okay, so the easiest way is either jump on the website and download something, join the email list, or look for Simon Murray on LinkedIn. I’m posting regularly on LinkedIn and that’s where you’ll find out about things like this up and coming.

16:47 RC: Awesome, thank you so much again Simon for joining us and thank you to all of our listeners for tuning in to today’s Masterminds in Maintenance. My name is Ryan Chan. I’m the CEO and founder of UpKeep. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn, I’m very active. You can reach me directly at [email protected] Until next time. Thanks so much again Simon.

17:05 SM: Thanks Ryan.

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