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4 ways to resolve common challenges relating to training and competency assurance

21 July 2021 by Add Energy

Training is often one of the first budgets to be sacrificed during corporate cost-cutting initiatives, and although it will deliver immediate cost reduction results, a lack of investment in this area is proven to lead to increased risk and spend later on.

To hold on to training budgets, or obtain new training budgets amid a cost-conscious environment it is important to correctly identify and prioritize training programs based on the perceived risk of not providing adequate competency assurance initiatives.2021 Headshot_ Afia McClenaghan 2

Add Energy’s Afia McClenaghan hosted a panel discussion with senior asset management professionals on how to drive performance and optimize costs through upskilling initiatives.

During the event, leaders from international energy producers including Canlin Energy, BP and Keyera Corporation discussed real-life challenges relating to this topic and shared proven tactics they would recommend for unlocking the potential of your maintenance and reliability workforce.

Common challenges relating to training and competency assurance 

1. Departmental cutbacks and budget restrictions due to COVID-19

The global pandemic was highlighted as one of the biggest causes of critical knowledge loss and lack of investment into training and competency assurance initiatives. This has resulted in a shared sense of “chronic unease”, causing:

  • Inexperienced resources being responsible for roles they are not competent in, reducing morale and exposing the business to additional risk
  • Complete loss of information, resulting from redundancies
  • Inefficiencies in work execution
  • Increase exposure to safety related issues
  • Lack of accountability for ensuring adequate training is provided
  • Constant firefighting and a loss of a proactive approach to asset management

2. Mergers and acquisitions  

With a market increase in company mergers and acquisitions, many organizations are faced with transitioning their master data from legacy asset management systems (EAM, CMMS or ERP) to one central system, resulting in the following issues emerging:  

  1. A “lift and shift” mentality, driven by cost saving initiatives can and has resulted in loss of critical data, broken links, and an inability to manage maintenance and integrity effectively   
  2. A lack of investment in training for maintenance teams using a new or updated asset management system, causing inefficiencies and ineffective asset management  

It is common for companies to overlook just how much preparation and training is required when switching asset management systems, resulting in the merger or acquisition risk profile significantly increasing unnecessarily. 

Apprent Week quote graphic small (6)3. A focus on day-to-day operations rather than a proactive approach to maintenance management  

With seemingly monotonous maintenance tasks being carried out day in day out, with no real understanding as to why they are being completed and the value they bring, site technicians often don’t realize or appreciate the significance of the work they are doing and the subsequent reporting of these tasks.  

This leads to:

  • Troubleshooting mistakes being made
  • A lack of accurate reporting and completion of documentation relating to the work orders
  • An overall lack of empowerment and morale within a workforce

These points further highlight the importance of investment in training and development within your maintenance and reliability team

Add Energy Academy Training and Competency

The impact these challenges have on an organization: 

These challenges can result in negative impacts across the whole organization, including but not limited to: 

  • Increased downtime 
  • Increased unproductive time and poor utilization of resources  
  • Increased expenditure 
  • Lack of an engaged, motivated and educated workforce  
  • Apathy within the workforce, “not my problem” attitude  

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How can these issues be resolved? 

1. Clearly defined roles and responsibilities and workshopping these with key stakeholders  

Developing competency profiles can be a key attribute to unlocking the real potential of a workforce, this act alone will lay the critical foundations required to kickstart a journey to ensuring your maintenance and reliability workforce have the abilities and knowledge to work safely on the job and to track their professional development.  

From these profiles, a competency map can be built to highlight the exact skills needed for their responsibilities, and from there a planned training roadmap can be developed to ensure these skills are expanded upon. This provides clear justifications for undertaking training and prevents a random, scattergun approach which can cause ambiguity. 

2. Invest in valuable, engaging training  

One of the most effective methods in enhancing competency is to invest time and money into bespoke training that is aligned to the application the learners are working in, and with the business direction. This is guaranteed to engage and motivate employees to feel that their individual roles and responsibilities are making an impact within the organization. When employees feel empowered, they are more likely to retain training knowledge and therefore perform to a higher standard.  

Apprent Week quote graphic small (3)Even small acts such as developing short videos, quick reference guides and educational presentation literature are proven methods that companies have successfully used to focus and support their diverse types of learners, without breaking the bank.  

When an organization is in the position to invest in external training courses, it is essential that the course fits the company's individual needs: 

  • Do they offer bespoke training? Not every company has identical issues or challenges, meaning off the shelf training may not match a company’s individual requirements. Finding a training provider that will take the time to listen to your challenges and create bespoke learnings for them is important 
  • Do they engage with the delegates and open lines of communication? It is essential that whoever is delivering the training understands the knowledge gaps within the organization’s workforce and engages in integrated discussions with the staff to further understand the content. This also ensures the employees feel that their voices are being heard. When training is simply dictated without a collaborative approach, it becomes ineffective and can cause defensiveness 

3. In-depth CMMS training is essential to effective and efficient maintenance management  

Investing in bespoke CMMS training will help to navigate away from the “lift and shift” mentality and ensure all employees fully understand how to get the most out of the company’s CMMS platform and utilize its various functionalities, resulting in a more cost-efficient use of the system and minimized risk.  

In relation to newly acquired CMMS’ or when a CMMS is upgraded/changed out, one of the key recommendations that our panel discussed was to kick start this process at least 6 weeks prior to the new CMMS going live, so when the training ends there is a smooth transition straight into the new processes and using the new system. 

Apprent Week quote graphic small (4)The panel also highlighted the importance of organizations moving with the digitalization of modern technologies to ensure their workforce is trained not only in their own master data systems, but also in the overall culture of innovation. 

4. Offer variety in the forms of training delivery to accommodate different learning modes  

While the benefits of classroom/online seminar training programs were highlighted, the panelists also discussed the value and importance of on the job, interactive coaching, mentoring and cross training to add to the skill level of a company’s workforce.  

From the panels perspective and based on their own experience, this was seen as the most effective mode of training delivery as learners and mentors work together in collaboration to trouble shoot and find root causes more efficiently, which in turn helps with the transfer of knowledge, roles and responsibilities within the team and can also add to that feeling of empowerment across the workforce. 

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