So, you have been approved to spend some money. A lot of money for that matter. Now the fun begins! Sound familiar? As we discussed in the previous article of this topic, the next steps are delivery, acceptance and training. In this article, we’ll discuss the steps needed for the purchase to be successful and to minimize the term “regret spend”. No one wants to be a victim of that dreaded term, so let’s focus on how to prevent that!
Now that the decision has been approved and the purchase has been made, you will need to focus on the next few steps to have a successful plan for the delivery of the equipment. In no particular order, the planning needs to move on to acceptance and testing of the products, ensuring the items purchased have been designed as specified and have been received in good working order as well as a training plan. As much time as this all takes, the training of this equipment and the development of the training plan usually takes the most time and effort. Technology is rapidly changing with many products and although you may have worked with similar items in the past, no two manufactures are the same as well as the technology they use in manufacturing. Understanding the training requirements can be time consuming to say the least, so having a good reference of what has been used to provide you with your specified equipment is vital to a successful acceptance and working knowledge. We say this to ensure the equipment is used as designed and lasts through its life expectancy.
Previously, we discussed the topics of planning, securing the approval to purchase and everything in between. In this article, we’ll cover the points after the purchase has been approved and the steps one should take to ensure it stays on track and meets the expectations of the end user. With the order awarded to the manufacturer, the next steps are typically scheduling a meeting to decide on the final build. More attention to detail is now required and specifics as to the equipment layout down to paint schemes are now discussed. Once that is all behind you, the waiting game begins as the products are manufactured over a period of months. Most manufacturers will provide you timeline tracking so you can keep an eye on the progress of your production. Each week you should receive photos and updates as to the progress of your build. As you near the mid-point of the build, there may be discussion as the process develops. Not always the case, however with custom builds, there may be instances where the manufacturer needs your assistance to understand exactly how YOU want the build to look or function.
As you near the end of the build and begin the preparation for final inspection and factory acceptance testing you should have already been working on the training plan. Keep in mind, depending on the amount and size of the equipment, this could be cumbersome for one or two people to coordinate. The approach for this topic is sensitive with some people, however, there needs to be a plan. Pride and ownership are great traits, but don’t let them get in the way of being successful with communicating your message efficiently and properly. Delegation will be a key factor to achieving a high-level program and sending the correct message to your team. Put your plan on paper, develop a timeline of expectations, and create media outlets to communicate to your team. The message needs to be clear and concise with the key points of the JPR’s (Job Performance Requirements) or JTA’s (Job Task Analysis) points documented and reviewed. Setting the expectation and JPR’s allows us to evaluate the knowledge, skills and abilities of the people we’re expecting to operate the equipment, and train others in their absence. It spells out exactly what the jobs are and sets specific roles. The JTA will have covered the JPR’s during the structuring of the training program.
Let’s move on to the delivery of the equipment and the Site Acceptance Testing. You’ve now taken delivery, the manufacturer should have a representative available to you that is proficient in the operation of the equipment purchased and can provide a good program to your team on the operation, maintenance and monitoring of your equipment. During the site acceptance testing, you should have proven the design of the equipment functions as specified and meets your expectations. Once testing has been completed, you now move to the training of your team. Using your JPR’s, the team now has a few tasks at hand. Familiarization with the equipment is one thing, however, getting the team to understand the concept could be another issue in itself. As you work through the different mindsets and get your team on the same page, there are challenges you face with the training. Again, as you develop your training program, you want to be sure it is documented and set so your team understands the expectations of the operation. Setting roles and responsibilities allows for the creation of a job inventory and sets the list of duties and tasks from which your team needs to work from. Having developed JPR’s allows for the qualifying of individuals to the various levels and positions needed to make your system function as designed.
As you work through the training and operation of the equipment, your inspection and monitoring program will need to be developed and reviewed by the parties who will be tasked with maintenance and repairs. Of course, this is all post-warranty, however there needs to be a program in place to keep the equipment running to its fullest capacity. Having your team trained and educated in this topic is just as crucial as any of the other components previously mentioned. Inspection and regular maintenance can make or break the successful outcome of an event when the equipment is needed. Far too many times have we seen this topic become an afterthought and more so, forgotten or ignored. Keeping this high value equipment operational is crucial and imperative to success. Don’t let that bite you down the road!
There are many tools to use in developing your training program. Depending on your location and cultural aspects, training happens in various ways. If you require assistance in developing a proper program, don’t be afraid to contact someone who can help. Putting together programs as large as a multi pump system, to as small as a single fire truck operation take time. Consistency is important but the message needs to be clear, so the receptors understand the expectation. When we put training plans together, we sometimes work the receptors educational capacity into the program. Other times we put a simple program together and leave it at that, but if we don’t evaluate the receptor to be sure they comprehended and can show competency, then we have failed. We need to be sure the message was received and was received correctly and can be put to use.
Site Acceptance Testing, delivery, training and post-delivery guidelines are all good topics and none of them should be forgotten. The process of procuring high value equipment goes much deeper than just designing, ordering and taking delivery. Training your personnel takes on an entirely new level of commitment and will create even more work than it took to design the system. Most of which will need to be put on paper so as to not be forgotten over time, but to also establish guidelines that can be followed for years to come. Passing the information on to new users and operators as well as maintaining a constant level of readiness, keeping everyone on the same page of competency is a key factor and will help keep the equipment operating to its designed parameters. In closing, there are many opportunities to seek assistance when it comes to procuring equipment being discussed in this article. Keep in mind your manufacturers staff skilled personnel who have gone through this process themselves and can assist you with presenting facts and figures to support your end goal, and that is to keep everyone safe so “everyone goes home”.
For more information, go to www.usfirepump.com