When you ask a consultant for help, most will want to begin with some sort of an assessment. In fairness, unless they worked in your organization, they have few options that you’d be willing to pay for, in order to find out what is and is not working.
If they worked there before, then you must ask yourself, “why didn’t she/he fix what was wrong while here before?” Consider getting a different consultant!
There is an old joke about asking a consultant what time it is. They will borrow your watch and then tell you the time. Assessments are like that – you and your staff already know what is going on in your organization. Each of you has a piece of the puzzle, but few (perhaps none) have the whole picture. The consultant pieces it together for you. But is an assessment the only way?
Consider that you probably don’t want an assessment only to confirm that you have problems. A score and someone else’s opinion don’t really add value. You need recommendations and probably some sort of quantifiable justification for taking action or getting funding.
Our goal as a specialty consulting firm is to help our clients improve their business through the improved performance of their physical assets. Our reputation is built on achieving results, not on billing a lot of hours for very little gain.
For several years we have used training rather than assessments to get to that point of having recommended actions quickly, by leveraging what your staff already know. It is faster, cheaper and it helps create some initial momentum for changes to take place without a lot of resistance. That training requires an investment, much less than an assessment, but still an investment that you may need to justify to others. You are still stuck. How can you justify spending to get some help, in order to justify the need for getting help? One answer is to get for free or for very little. Keep the spending within your own limits.
Start free! Let’s say that you can’t yet justify bringing in the consultants. We want to help you, so we created a free maturity assessment online. It asks ten questions that you can probably answer with just a bit of digging. Be careful to follow the definitions we use closely if you want an accurate result. It quickly reveals where you are in terms of maintenance and reliability maturity. You can even download the results.
If you score in the red, orange or yellow areas, then you almost certainly have quite a bit of money at stake. In the light green areas you have improvements to make, but they are things that you can likely do without much help from outside. Your maturity level is high enough that you can probably figure them out for yourself.
In those areas where you “need improvement” however, you need to go further. The quick maturity assessment doesn’t quantify the benefits of making changes and you will need quantifiable benefits to get funding for any help or initiative you may want.
For that you need an estimate of the business case, and for that you need a more comprehensive evaluation. We can build on that maturity assessment by adding in some financial and performance data. If you are in those “needs improvement” areas of the graph, then you will want to use our “business case estimator“.
The estimator is not free, but is very inexpensive – less than you’d pay for an hour of a good consultant’s time. Based on your inputs, you will get an estimate of cost savings, production, revenue and margin gains and even improvement in your use of working capital. Numeric output looks like the table to the left. You will also get a few high level observations based on those inputs. They will indicate where you most likely need to pay attention and make some changes.
Those observations are not recommendations, but they can be very helpful as a starting point. Some of the major consulting firms that might do an assessment will provide similar observations – high level, not overly detailed, and they don’t really tell you what you need to do either.
Getting to this point with a major consulting firm or specialist doing an assessment will normally take a few weeks and cost you $30,000 to $50,000 (maybe even more). Even the former employee who is now calling himself a consultant will likely take more than week and cost you more than $10,000 for his assessment.
We can certainly go much deeper with our training and, if you really want it, our assessments. What you need however, is a list of recommended actions, priorities and a plan. With the business case estimator you’ll know what the potential improvements are worth to your organization, and you should have enough justification to finance at least some initial actions.
Note that the estimator is designed with producing operations in mind and has an underlying assumption that you can sell whatever you are producing. That won’t always be the case. In some cases, you can’t sell additional product, even if you produce it for less. You may be operating a fleet of vehicles, a distribution facility, or a utility, where additional capacity doesn’t translate into revenues. Perhaps the market for your product is constrained and you really only need cost reductions. Reliability achieves capacity increase. It doesn’t need to be used for production increases. It can also be used for cost reductions. For instance, you might be able to eliminate a shift, reduce fleet size, operate fewer hours, lower cost per unit of output, or unit of throughput.
A brief consultation with us about your results from the maturity assessment or from the estimator will be time and money well spent, and far less than what you might pay with other consulting firms that are relying on older traditional methods.