City Scape

Deciding What Can be Deferred

What should be prioritized and what can be deferred? Cliff Williams
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Seeking to be of service to our members at this time we asked a team of PEMAC volunteers what their specific challenges were with the theory that other members likely had similar challenges.  One said that his team was challenged to figure out how their upcoming shutdown schedule could go forward as originally-planned due to staffing limitations with the contract companies they normally relied upon. Looking ahead they were deep in the throws of working out what might have to be deferred and what the impact of deferral would be. 

Around this premise, Cliff Williams prepared a brief outline of the process his team is following as a conversation starter for a round-table discussion.

Cliff made clear off the start is that many decisions to defer maintenance will be corporate decisions as they can have significant potential impact on production and every other department as well - OH&S, purchasing, marketing, finance, customer relationships. Input from other departments and senior levels into decisions to defer maintenance will not only make each aware of the risks that are being taken on, if any, it will also help to mitigate any risks that are identified. That said, the maintenance department has both the data and the insight into the data that is necessary to make these decisions wisely and may well be best positioned to initiate and lead the necessary internal conversations.

Cliff provided a clear and simple set of steps and questions for analyzing the workload and identifying tasks that can (or must) be deferred due to resource constraints. The steps and questions are applicable at any scale of operation (even your personal to-do list!) though being methodical with these questions for large scale operations obviously requires a good history, a clear understanding of each job in the list, and the collaboration already mentioned. 

Here are the steps / questions:

  • Understand ‘what’ tasks are ahead
    • Look ahead to shutdowns 
    • Categorize the tasks by area / by trades
    • Figure out the duration of each task
    • Does it impact production?
  • Which of these tasks can we get done given constraints?
    • Do we have the replacement equipment?
    • Do we have the spare parts?
    • Can we get the spare parts?
    • What about the what ifs?
  • Be clear about ‘why’ each job is on this list
    • Are they regulated?
    • If they are preventative tasks, what are they based on?
    • If they are corrective tasks, what is the impact of not doing them?
  • Understand ‘who’ is scheduled to do them and alternative ways of resourcing people
    • In house – trades?
    • Contractors – specialist or generalist?
    • Alternatives?
  • Understand the impact of not doing these tasks
    • Safety? Non-negotiable
    • Environmental? Non-negotiable
    • Operational? For discussion
    • Financial? For discussion

Cliff showed an example of a real-life spreadsheet that had been complied to facilitate a conversation around deferral decisions. A great question and answer session followed. 

This 1 hour recorded webcast is now available to PEMAC members in the "Shared Learning Library" here.