Marshalling your Work Scope

Any one in your team can access your ERP, or other corporate system, to write a work order or a job order, or notification to initiate a scope of work. The reception yard in the diagram illustrates the multiple sources (ex. Operations, Reliability, Inspection, HSE, Engineering, etc.) of work order generation. Each work order is, effectively, a license to spend money. This directly impacts your bottom line. You need adequate safeguards in place to: evaluate the scope, assess the risks associated with doing or NOT doing the work, determine the priority of the work and, finally, assign the work to a suitable program (classification in the diagram) so that it gets executed with the requisite attention to detail and based on its urgency and safety consequences. Work orders are not equal. Some may be postponed until the next plant turnaround. Some, the urgent, safety-related work, may need to be done immediately, including moving crews from existing work. Some may need to be done by a specialty contract for a focused program, such as Hydrocarbon Emissions. Some may involve thousands of hours to complete. Some may require less than 10 hours. Careful analysis of each work order, illustrated by the the ‘hump’ in the diagram, ensures that the source of the work scope and the potential consequences determine the right program (in the classification yard) to which it is directed. I indulged my fascination with railroads to make this analogy – and I hope that it resonates with you.

The stream of work orders is endless. The limitation of of ERPs to provide sufficient tools to analyse the work orders prior to execution complicates the problem, often by postponing the analysis to the planner’s desk. The planner’s work lead then increases and they are even more overworked, with additional risk analysis and screening decisions to be made. Once analyzed and planned, the work scope is then moved into a single daily schedule program. Maintenance field crews, supplemented with contracted crews are confronted with a steady stream of backlog work. Measures of equipment KPIs or schedule compliance are simply not done, or are difficult to obtain, due to the lack of control for the dissimilar work types, being done by the maintenance teams ,on different work scopes.

The Solution? You need a consistent ‘reception’ or screening methodology to review your work orders. This must include a risk analysis matrix to prioritize work order execution timelines. It also includes a check list-based set of questions that help the screener to ensure that the work order gets shunted, based on your standard business rules, to the right program, such as: Turnaround, Daily Maintenance, Preventive Maintenance, Proactive Maintenance, Volatile Organic Compound Emissions, Relief Valves, etc. Work orders are expensive! A consistent, predictable handling of work orders in programs provides you with a measurable approach to determining the value you get for the expense of these work orders and programs.

In this ideal solution approach, as new work orders land in each program, they are planned in detail, including being manpower loaded and with logically connected tasks . Previous plans for the work order, on a specific equipment/asset, may be easily copied and tweaked, to save time and avoid needless re-planning of similar work scope. Once planning is completed, stakeholder groups like Safety (HSE), Reliability and Inspection (QA/QC), Engineering, Operations each sign off on the plan to confirm that their concerns are addressed in the plan. The planned work scope then moves into the Procurement (Supply Chain) area to be assimilated into a contract package and/or provisioned with materials, tools, supplies and rented equipment as required. Completion of the Procurement process advances the work into the Pre-Execution stage, awaiting the mobilization of contractors and the receipt of required materials, equipment and supplies. Once these items are received in the Warehouse and Tool-room, the work scope is, automatically per business rule, set to activate in the Execution work set and appears on the work list for the crews assigned to that program.

Accomplishing this streamlined ‘marshalling’ of work orders requires an integration of solutions and processes. If you cannot, or do not want to, use a single solution to initiate, screen, plan, review, provision, execute and close each work order, then you should work to minimize the number of systems used and also work to maximize the integration between the systems in use.

My insights here come from years of working on the shop floor and in plants, alongside teams in maintenance and production and in field trailers. I have learned, from planners and foremen and people in the field, the challenges that they face on the frontline or ‘workface’. For this reason, my focus has been to help configure solutions for these frontline teams to help them do their work more effectively and efficiently and with measurable outcomes that can be used to justify lessons learned-based improvements.

Improved ‘marshalling’ of your work scope helps your frontline team improve your bottom line.