| "Client Centered Consulting" by Cockman, Evans
and Reynolds (McGraw -Hill), describes consultants as "people who find
themselves having to influence other people or advise them about possible
courses of action to improve the effectiveness of any aspect of their operations,
without having any formal authority over them or not choosing to have."
| This article seeks to establish a template
for maintenance management consultants, in order that client expectations
are realized. Also, It will assist consultants to improve performance and
erode the stigma which is sometimes associated with the employment of external
| In recent times, media reports have indicated
that organizations are cutting back on outsourced consultancy services.
Is there an underlying truth that consultants not effective as per our
definition? This may not be deliberate, as most consultants may be extremely
knowledgeable in their area, but lack mechanisms at the consultant / client
interface to create an environment where they will no longer be needed.
The maintenance consultant must empower the client to reach continuous
performance improvement and maintain the required reliability beyond the
duration of the consulting contract.
| It is hoped that that this discourse can assist
consultants and clients in the maintenance sphere to have an understanding
of the constituent components, including dependency disengaging skills,
for a successful relationship. The format has to be set up from the get-go,
the consultancy has to be initiated with that intent in mind. It should
form the basis of the consultancy structure, with firm exit plans. It must
not be an afterthought.
| The client should request during the engagement
presentation the process that will empower persons charged with the eventual
execution of the responsibility. The client cannot assume that the consultant
will provide it.
| Maintenance training to a large extent is
confined to craft training. The development of maintenance management,
has been interpreted as managing the craft practices. This is borne out
by the design format of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS).
Most of the 200 odd programs are based on recording keeping, work order
generation and backlog mechanisms. Consultants inevitably left clients
dependent on their services.
| This is obvious, since the existence of activities
geared for backlog repair could not exist if maintenance consultants equipped
their clients with the theory to provide reliability continuously. Backlogs
cannot exist in the midst of reliability.
| Therefore, one can conclude that many of the
programs were not designed with reliability in mind.
| The CMMS type programs as described, have
been employed against a background of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)
and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) systems - which promote reliability.
Questions are raised whether the programs and the systems are compatible.
This is important because CMMS programs are really information systems,
and as such should be formatted to meet the needs of the operating system,
in order to meet the needs of decision making information. A review of
CMMS does not indicate which program aligns with a particular system.
| These issues are relevant, because Cockman,
Evans and Reynolds claim many consultants, in general, are guilty of 'dispensing
small amounts of professional advice for large fees (and in the process
ensuring dependency)'. These practices give industrial consultants a bad
name. The purpose here is to develop the means to remove the dependency,
thus encouraging organizations to rethink their attitudes on outsourced
skills and place maintenance consultants in a more favorable light. The
culture of dependency, reduces the effectiveness of the consultant, as
is to be expected. Consultants can become extinct and irrelevant.
| It is at this point we join the authors to
appeal to maintenance consultants to develop the means to remove the dependency
type consultations. Move towards what is called Client Centered Consulting.
The primary focus is to be effective by leaving the client fully competent
to create performance improvements, based on the methodology set up for
| The following summary points to increase effectiveness
are made by the authors. They are reviewed, as they are applied within
the context of maintenance for consulting purposes:
||Starting where the clients
are, not where you think they are.
||Review the client's maintenance
system and assess whether it facilitates reliability on an overall basis,
based on the system design. Basically determine if they have written procedures
in place and establish the types of measurements taken.
||Helping clients decide
what data or information to collect
||Identify and work alongside
clients based on the operating environment, to determine the information
that will ascertain reliability. Indicate sources for relevant information
and the development of a format to accommodate such information. Develop
procedural documentation to support all the elements, which contributes
||Allowing clients to diagnose
their problems for themselves
||Develop for clients the
tools of Planning, Execution and Analysis (PEA) as the methodology to resolve
their problems on a continuous basis. This gives the clients the framework,
so that they can help themselves long after you have gone.
||Helping clients make
sense of the data, rather than doing it yourself
||Show clients how to use
reliability assurance determined procedures and measurement information
to provide improvements. Be purposeful.
||Providing theory to helping
clients make sense of the data or make decisions about the course of action
||Explain the concept of maintenance
defined as 'wear management', and
how it promotes reliability.
Demonstrate its implications and how it provides the basis for maintenance
information, and hence the decision making process of the system.
||Helping clients gain
commitment to the plan of action.
||Clients are helped to commitment
by instituting maintenance policies and procedures for their management
of maintenance. This should be coupled with an appropriate information
system, to match such requirements for reliability and the potential for
the lowest cost.
||Assisting clients to
implement the decisions and arranging the
follow-up, if appropriate.
|Demonstrate to the client,
via training, how the procedures provide the basis for improvements through
feedback and related decision making.
as soon as possible.
||The demonstration in 7 above,
simplifies dis-engagement for the
consultant and transfers
responsibility for reliability to the client.
||Ensuring that clients
retain ownership of the problem and don't become client dependent.
||Armed with the procedures,
the client is poised to resolve any potential problem. The procedures provide
the means for retaining ownership, and removes consultant dependency, as
they proactively avert 'problems', by doing the right thing and removing
| We have subjected the highlighted points of
the authors' summary to our own interpretation, of how they can be achieved
within the context of maintenance practices in particular. We now have
to turn our attention to arguments, which will determine whether our path
for guiding the consultant is correct.
| The authors further refer to previous work
by Lippit & Lippit, and have adapted it to illustrate the level of
client / consultant activity. In order to confirm that the elements as
described in 1-9 fit into a recognizable and accepted process, we will
draw it to your attention.
| The chart demonstrates typical styles. It
represents the extent of directiveness between the client and the consultant.
The styles illustrate the consultant / client interface relationships,
as a result of such styles.
| The ideal for consultants, extends across
6-8, which displays a great deal of consultant directive activity, for
training, developing policies and procedures. The chart demonstrates that
these activities lead the client at the non-directive end to be less dependent
(Lippet and Lippet-Pfeiffer
and Company San Diego 1978)
|Raises questions for reflection
||Observes problem solving
process and raises issues mirroring feedback
||Gathers data and stimulates
and resources for client and help access consequences
||Offers alternatives and
participates in decisions
||Regards links and provide
policy or practice decisions
||Proposes Guidelines, Persuades
or directs in the problem solving process.
| The elements of 6,7,8 allow the client more
non-directive input, for exercising greater involvement, as the non-directive
elements 1,2 and 3, have a point of reference.
| Client-Centered techniques, are consistent
with the generally accepted processes for management, which promotes the
use of measurement and procedures as the desirable format. According to
Lippet and Lippet, the styles reflected between 6-9 remove dependency.
Clients whose maintenance management are developed by consultants as per
the argued methodology, are assured that the consultant's work can effectively
improve their operations, eliminate dependency, provided the consultant's
process is geared towards reliability.