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By Michael Cowley
Maintenance & Operations Article Use Policy
The key to managing the staffing process is to have accurate data that will allow the department to completely and accurately understand everything supervisors and front-line technicians are doing, meaning where they are spending their labor and supply dollars. The only way to gather the data is to have a well-managed and accurate computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) and make sure that the technicians are writing detailed and accurate work orders for all of the work they complete each and every day. There cannot be any exceptions to this rule. It must be job one at all times.
Once managers have this data, then they can begin to develop some benchmark data, such as labor costs per square foot or technicians per million square feet. With this data in hand, managers can begin to compare the department to other organizations in order to see where it stands.
If you are part of a professional organization for facilities, schools, hospitals or certain manufacturing organizations, you can begin to compare their benchmark data against the department’s data to get an idea of how it compares to the standard.
Earlier, I made the statement that 95 percent of the departments I have contact with are overstaffed. That figure might sound too high to believe, but it’s true. Managers can ask themselves these questions to perform a quick assessment of the department’s staffing situation.
If you answered no to any of these examples, your department probably is overstaffed. To succeed, managers must be able to justify increasing or decreasing staff. You must have the accurate data to create the business case for making changes.
Develop accurate data, become involved with professional organizations that have benchmarking programs or committees, and take a hard, detailed look at staffing and management processes. Many times, technicians are not the problem. It is the department leaders and managers who need to make changes to their processes and to the leadership culture.
Michael Cowley, CPMM, is president of CE Maintenance Solutions — www.cemaintenancesolutions.com. Cowley provides maintenance training, coaching and consulting services to facility and manufacturing organizations nationwide. He is a frequent speaker at national facilities management conferences.
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