September 30, 2022
Writing Skills for Maintenance - Part III
Writing is one of those hobbies I fell into heavily almost right out of college. I had dabbled with a few short stories before that but with time on my hands in a new town at a new job, the writing bug bit hard. I started by penning a three-part story for a comic book. Unfortunately, the illustrator didn't complete his part and the project fell through.
Several years later, I became very serious about writing stories and solidified the goal of getting published when I joined a critique group. Because of my dedication and determination, I've learned new skills and have been able to apply successful concepts to my writing.
As mentioned last week, I find it amazing how certain ideas can be practiced and strengthened across industry lines. This week, I'll conclude the series with five more and show how they can be adapted to a maintenance department and further enhanced with a computerized maintenance management system. (CMMS).
Learning Better Methods
This point touches on the problem-solving and time management discussed earlier. Through conferences and regular attendance at critique groups, I've learned better ways to write character development, story structure, and scene writing. Yes, there are always edits and rewrites. It's a rare case where the first draft becomes the story published. (Rex Stout, who created Nero Wolfe is a rare exception.) With each new book, I strive to learn a different and better way of writing it.
Maintenance departments learn more efficient ways of controlling preventive maintenance, repairs, equipment cost tracking, inventory quantities, and so much more through a CMMS. They see the organization and measurably increased productivity. A quality CMMS offers plenty of optional details to include with each asset and inventory item. It offers an array of filters on reports so supervisors learn exactly what information will be most helpful for future jobs.
You're Always Learning
This is a good follow-up to the last point. As a writer, I never stop learning. I can never be perfect in my writing, but I persevere to be the best I can be. That means reading more, attending seminars and conferences, and listening to critiques. The more opinions and suggestions I receive, the better I'll become.
The same 'always learning' idea holds true for a CMMS. There is always another option one comes across that could be helpful or make a feature work easier. While initial training to use the system is necessary, follow-up sessions are beneficial. Learning also comes through support calls. Many snippets of calls I've heard are from customers wanting details on a certain feature and wondering how X works.
If It Works…
Yes, there are rules in writing. However…one can break them if it works, if doing so fits the type of store presented. This is akin to problem-solving, thinking outside the box, and finding a solution that's a little different.
An example of a classic solution that does not work is the ghost rescuing the hero near the end of the book. If the ghost isn't part of the general story and is mentioned several times, this doesn't work. It's a cheat, and readers won't like it.
In maintenance, one has to be careful with this point. Just because it works may mean that corners were cut. Which may result in worse problems.
However, software is like any other tool. With a CMMS, you're not reprogramming it, but you are looking for efficiency. That's part of the reason a good CMMS needs to be scalable. You don't want to jump through hoops to get something to work. You want basics, then later, you want detail. You make it work for you.
I spoke of outlines before. This is part of preparing to write. Preparation is also putting myself in the right frame of mind, the right environment for better productivity. Sitting at a park, a little jazz in the background, a cold drink, or hot tea nearby, all those little things.
When I attend critique meetings or am going to present a seminar at a conference or retreat, I have everything prepared. All my materials are organized and ready to go. I'm' not scrambling at the last minute with papers and trying to find notes. I'm ready to write, read my selection to the group, or ready to speak when it's my turn.
A CMMS provides a plethora of ways to prepare for work. When starting out, you'll need some implementation. One has to input information regarding assets and inventory and create preventive maintenance cycles. A basic setup of users and authorizations is necessary. If a department handles inventory and supply purchasing, vendor details are needed.
Again, the scalability factor comes into play. How much detail you input should be up to you. Start simple, then add more as needed.
In inventory, you prepare locations of parts and create tool kits for less search time.
For maintenance jobs, you layout Routes to cover several areas with similar jobs to save time.
Admins are prepared each day by reviewing a schedule of upcoming jobs.
When I sit down to write, I know I'm ready. I may complete only a few pages, but they'll be good. Good, not great. Great comes later. However, I have the confidence I can produce quality material. Even when I'm struggling with a particular scene, I've had enough experience to know a solution will be found.
Admins and users of a CMMS are no different. At first, the system may seem challenging, but it's like any other tool or software. The more usage, the better it will be. Soon, you'll wonder how you coped without it.v
As mentioned a few times, the goal of this series of posts was to give another perspective on how aspects of a maintenance department and a CMMS can be related to other areas of employment and hobbies in our lives. Sometimes, when one hears of a certain industry, the first thoughts are, "How do they do that? It sounds complicated and difficult. What type of people would work there?"
The answer is to look at other jobs, other industries, and even something as innocuous as writing. Look at the skills and concepts practiced that make people in those jobs successful and apply them to the supposedly 'challenging' industries.
In many facilities, a CMMS is a needed tool for success. Many of the qualities discussed in this series are found in such a system.
If you want details about a powerful but easy-to-use CMMS, visit Mapcon. 800-922-4336