Efficient Plant October 2017 - 53
A RELIABLE PERFORMANCE-MANAGEMENT PROCESS
DEPENDS ON TWO FORMS OF STANDARDS:
The real value of audits comes when they're leveraged as learning or
teaching activities, not as punitive tools.
Audit or Assess?
ELIMINATING VARIABILITY and deviation from established standards, processes, and procedures is essential to a
reliable, sustainable organization. The solution, according to
Keith Mobley of Life Cycle Engineering (LCE.com, Charleston, SC), is both simple and complex.
Periodic audits, especially when unannounced, help ensure
compliance with established standards. Such audits are the
easy part of performance management. The complex part
is creating well-defined standard processes (what must be
done) and procedures (how it will be done) for all recurring
activities, tasks, and work essential to reliability and performance management.
Understand, however, that "audits" are not the same as
"assessments." While both add value, they differ in form and
function. Mobley provided the following details, starting with
a brief summary of the performance-management process.
- Jane Alexander, Managing Editor
R. Keith Mobley, CMRP, is a consultant with Life Cycle Engineering
(LCE), based in Charleston, SC. For more information, visit LCE.com or
The first form is standard processes and procedures. They must be clear,
systematic definitions of how critical activities, tasks, and work shall be
performed. The intent of these standards is to eliminate variability and inconsistency, as well as ensure universal adherence to best practices. Standard
work also defines roles, responsibilities, and accountability, creating transparency throughout the organization.
The second form of standards, work standards, defines the timing, duration,
and cost for each of the procedures developed as standards above. Where
standard work ensures that recurring work consistently follows a bestpractice sequence of tasks or activities, work standards ensure each of the
tasks are performed effectively and efficiently. Work standards should be
established for all critical procedures that have a direct or indirect impact on
reliability and performance.
HOW/WHEN TO USE AUDITS
By definition, an audit is designed to verify and quantify actual performance versus an established standard. Without both standards described in the previous
bullet points, one cannot effectively audit performance. When these criteria are
met, almost anyone in the organization can effectively audit execution of the
covered tasks, activities, or procedures.
Audits are limited to procedures or discrete tasks that can be defined as
activities that are performed in a unique sequence and within quantifiable
boundaries. They are used to measure how specific, well-defined activities, procedures, or tasks are performed. Generally thought of in terms of finance, audits
are effective for standard procedures that have systematic-execution directions
and work standards that define timing, duration, labor hours, and cost.
Remember: Audits are not useful for evaluating processes and more abstract
definitions, i.e., activities that are also essential for a reliable, sustainable organization. This is when assessments are required.
HOW/WHEN TO USE ASSESSMENTS
Assessments are evaluations or estimations of the nature, quality, or ability of
someone or something to meet objectives. They come in many forms, each designed to quantify specific environments or operations. Conversational assessments use open-ended questions that, when answered by a cross-section of
employees, create a mosaic of prevailing culture, organization, and performance.
Assessments are more abstract than audits. They are effective in quantifying
organizational behavior, culture, philosophy, and overall performance.
Remember: Unlike audits, effective assessments rely on assessors with the
expertise and experience, i.e., subject-matter experts, to interpret and quantify
input, compared with best practices. EP