Successful prioritisation of maintenance jobs requires an asset-risk-weighting (ARW) approach, says Steve Voller.
Everyone accepts that in maintenance, job prioritisation is important: do the urgent stuff first, right? Many facilities teams use a scale to prioritise job requests such as one-to-five or low-to-critical. These approaches are simple and apparently intuitive. But how do you guarantee consistency? How do you know that all the relevant factors have been considered to ensure best value to the organisation?
These ‘simple’ scales are blunt and arbitrary tools that obscure a true appreciation of underlying risk and severity.
Multi-criteria analysis uses ‘influencing factors’ to give a more nuanced response to risk – one that takes account of all the factors in play, not just the most obvious. Influencing factors will vary across sectors but include:
- delivery of a service or product;
- health and safety;
- reputation; and
- business interruption.
To use this approach we separately weigh each issue by its impact on an influencing factor such as business interruption and take into account the overall relative importance of each factor to the organisation. This leads to a nuanced asset-risk-weighting (ARW) for each type of issue rather than a simple priority.
ARW in action
In a school, for example, two influencing factors to consider are the impact on the ability to deliver teaching – the school’s main ‘business activity’ – and the effect on the environment.
Imagine one issue significantly affects teaching and is rated 1 (high priority) but only has a minor environmental impact where it scored 4. Another issue affecting the same asset class might score 1 on teaching and 1 on the environment. ARW takes into account the relative weightings between the influencing factors to determine which of these priority 1 issues takes precedence.
The more granular approach of ARW highlights differences in priorities across assets or asset classes – and can really add value in maintenance planning. In the example above, if the second issue was a different asset class and scored 1 for teaching and 3 for the environment then this would have a higher ARW rating and would take precedence.
From an FM perspective this is qualitatively better data. It helps us to allocate FM resources to best respond to the organisation’s objectives and priorities.
Determining what these influencing factors are and their weightings is up to the organisation. It provides an opportunity to involve a wider stakeholder group in setting the organisation’s priorities and to bridge the gulf between ‘users’ and ‘fixers’.
The beauties of an ARW approach are its simplicity – the maths isn’t complicated – and its flexibility as you can make it as detailed or as simple as you need in terms of the influencing factors, issues, assets, asset classes and even location.
For example, defects on assets that affect the perception of our organisation by visitors might rank higher than those that don’t: a faulty information screen in a reception area might be given higher importance than one in a back office.
Using the ARW approach, we see not just the priority of the issues but their ‘relative importance’ against other issues. So tackling a high-priority issue isn’t just more important – it’s far more important than something else.
Users tempted to assign every issue as high priority instead inform FM of the type of issue and the software determines the priority based on agreed criteria. Even if it subsequently changes it’s on a more informed basis.
The value of using ARW in job prioritisation include:
- Greater alignment between FM and the organisation’s priorities;
- Reduced friction between users and fixers and greater buy-in to maintenance activities;
- Improved transparency and consistency across facilities staff;
- Better decisions using more objectively agreed criteria; and
- Better outcomes in terms of focusing resources on what is important, doing jobs at the right time and minimising risk to the organisation.
Steve Voller is founder of Altuity Solutions Ltd