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    Collaborating with stakeholders to raise performance

    Collaborating with stakeholders to raise performance

    Maintenance Engineering Report 2023

    Collaborating with stakeholders to raise performance

    Today’s organisations are complex, with multiple interdependencies, and it’s no good trying to hit your departmental targets in isolation. Collaboration is the key to raising operational performance across the organisation and with suppliers too.

    The first step on the path to raising performance is to set realistic goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). You’ll also need buy-in from the team. In a recent survey of maintenance engineers conducted by RS and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, more than half of the 683 UK & Ireland respondents said they couldn’t trust the data used to measure their performance. So why is this and what can be done about it?

    Download the report to find out more.

    Knowing what to measure

    Many of the targets set for maintenance engineers focus on financial performance. While this is crucial for any business, especially in tough economic times, it can feel detached from the day-to-day work.

    The top three key performance indicators (KPIs) mentioned in our survey were maintenance cost/replacement asset value, budget adherence and maintenance backlog. These were reported by more than a third of respondents.

    More than 20% of respondents said they were being assessed against more familiar engineering benchmarks, including failure analysis and mean time between failures, together with adherence to safety and environmental standards.

    But more than half (53%) of those surveyed said the data used to measure their performance was not reliable. Richard Jeffers, Managing Director of RS Industria, says he can understand why so many maintenance engineers mistrust the data used to assess their performance.

    “I’m not surprised that there is a lack of confidence in the quality of some of the underpinning data,” he says. “Most factories under-report operator-induced failure and over-report maintenance failure. If an operator calls the technician out, it’s assumed it must be a maintenance problem, even when the cause of the problem is obviously not maintenance related.”

    Dr Moray Kidd, Maintenance Engineering Academic, says KPIs often reflect organisational boundaries, rather than the specific responsibilities of engineers. “If you’re in a particular part of the business, you might be a little bit concerned about being measured against a KPI for aspects that are out of your control,” he explains.

    Kidd believes organisations have a long way to go to repair trust in KPIs, which will require more focused definitions, better-targeted performance measurement criteria and transparency around how data is gathered, analysed and used to improve performance.

    “I think we’ve set ourselves up for failure on reliability when it comes to KPIs because the metrics we have created are very basic and there’s a lot of room for misunderstanding – it’s a real challenge,” Kidd adds.

    Linking up with other departments

    With the success of maintenance operations dependent on many parts of today’s complex organisations, collaboration across divisions is vital. Maintenance engineers’ key stakeholders are Operations and Health & Safety, but they also rely on efficient services from Procurement and Finance departments, among others, to keep everything running smoothly.

    In our survey, respondents told us their biggest challenges include: “a lack of collaboration between entities”; issues around “cross-functional team working”; and “stakeholder management… getting alignment on what to focus on in 2023.”

    Fewer than a quarter of respondents said procurement had a high level of involvement in negotiations about costs and requirements with suppliers. Nearly six in 10 said procurement had only a medium level of involvement.

    Our findings are reflected in research by business consultants, Accenture. They asked 1,500 senior executives about cross-functional collaboration in their organisations. A staggering 75% said different business divisions were competing rather than collaborating. In the same report, Accenture says that a lack of collaboration reduces revenue growth and return on investment on digital innovation – and warns that in difficult economic times, it could prove disastrous to a business.

    Emma Botfield, RS’ Managing Director, UK & Ireland, says it’s essential to turn around this lack of collaboration and win engagement from all teams that provide direct support to maintenance engineers.

    Engaging trusted suppliers

    The benefits of collaboration don’t stop at the factory gates. Suppliers are critical to success. Botfield suggests organisations and their suppliers should frame their relationship with the bigger picture in mind. “I think businesses need to look for suppliers they can partner with to take a joint strategic view of where value can be added,” she says.

    “That’s where a trusted supplier partner can work with you, because it’s not just about a transaction,” Botfield explains. “Suppliers should be asking what your business is trying to achieve, what are your pain points, how can we jointly solve them, how can we help you operate at an optimum level to achieve what your business goals are?”

    Maintenance engineers who responded to our survey agreed that suppliers need to be aligned with their customers’ business goals. One said suppliers should show “commitment to our success” while another emphasised the importance of “communication and engagement”.

    The benefits of trusted partnerships with suppliers are highlighted in research from McKinsey & Company. In its report, Taking Supplier Collaboration to the Next Level, the analysts conclude that “companies that regularly collaborated with suppliers demonstrated higher growth, lower operating costs and greater profitability than their industry peers”.

    Collaboration is a powerful business tool for companies, regardless of their size or industry. Working together with other teams within your organisation, and leveraging the ideas and experience of suppliers will help you solve your maintenance engineering challenges and achieve goals that would be out of reach when working alone.

    Download the report to find out more.



    Maintenance Engineering Report 2023