Each year, I work with a handful of customers who are interested in starting an RCM effort. Some are corporate roll outs and other times the effort starts at a single site.  Out of this handful of customers, I always have one or two who are giving Reliability Centered Maintenance a second shot.  Seems the first time they tried to get started, one of two things happened: either they completed a good RCM analysis and didn’t get the resulting tasks implemented or they got swindled by an RCM pretender.

Having written several blogs and articles on how to successfully implement an RCM analysis, today’s blog will deal with how to spot the pretenders.

The RCM pretender is someone who claims to be an expert RCM Practitioner or Facilitator; they have an understanding that the world has a limited number of good RCM Practitioners/Facilitator and in most cases, they have enough knowledge on the topic to convince someone at the consulting company they work for that they are indeed an expert.

Sometime after they have been hired, your company looks to get started with its RCM effort and guess who shows up at your door?

It’s the RCM pretender and he/she is prepared to lead your effort into the middle of nowhere for as long as someone is willing to pay the bill and in the end, having no idea how bad they have been burned, someone makes the good decision to stop.  Reliability Centered Maintenance is a process you are no longer interested in, it takes too much time, and you ended up with nothing to show for your efforts.

Here are some simple suggestions on how to weed out the pretenders before you get burned!

  1. Real RCM Practitioners/Facilitators have two types of resumes. The first is one I use when someone comes to our company claiming to have expert level RCM experience.  Simply go to Google, type in that person’s name along with RCM or Reliability Centered Maintenance, hit ‘enter’, and see what you find.


Real Practitioners/Facilitators have an on-line resume that includes articles they have written on the subject and conferences they have presented at.  Give them bonus points if they have co-presented with a client/customer.  It’s one thing to write articles on RCM, it’s another to have a customer stand up and proclaim that you helped them to start a successful RCM effort.  They will also have completed a certification process that included both training and mentoring.  When asked, they will be able to reference who instructed the training and who mentored them through the certification process.


The pretender’s RCM search will yield only the mention he/she added to their LinkedIn profile resume under skills or experience – RCM Expert.  Most pretenders have only attended a training class and have never been mentored through certification.


2. The second type of resume is the kind we ask for when we are looking to hire someone.  Should you resort to this, make sure you inquire where they received their training/certification and a list of customer contacts who will verify the experience or skills they claim to have.

The real Practitioner/Facilitator will have a list of people you can call and the pretender will begin to make excuses. 

3.       Real RCM Practitioners/Facilitators have a proven method to help you select an asset where once you have completed your RCM analysis and implemented the resulting tasks, you will see a return on investment within a few months.


Pretenders will tell you that it doesn’t matter what asset you select to do your first RCM analysis on, that RCM is a site-wide or even corporate effort that should be done on all of your assets and that criticality or performance has nothing to do with where you should focus your efforts.


4.       A real RCM Practitioner/Facilitator will be very interested in providing a detailed estimate in regard to how many components and failure modes can be covered in a given period of time and when it comes to actually performing that RCM, they will meet or beat that estimate.  Real facilitators will not only meet or beat the estimate, they will work with you to develop an RCM implementation plan that will get you started in implementing the RCM tasks.


Pretenders shy away from giving estimates. They will tell you that RCM takes time and that it is very difficult to judge how long the analysis will take.  In many cases, the pretenders will fall behind and begin making excuses about the RCM team and how the concept is so new that your people are having difficulty because they don’t understand the failure modes.  In the end, most never complete the first analysis, leaving you high and dry when it comes to how to manage the tasks you have identified to date.  Even worse, some address failure modes and effects separately from task development knowing you will not ask them to leave until they have worked with the team to develop tasks.


5.       Real RCM Practitioners/Facilitators are very interested in what CMMS system you are using as well as your equipment hierarchy because if you have done a good job developing your hierarchy, it can save time both up front in preparing for the analysis as well in the implementation phase of your analysis.


The pretender will not be interested in your CMMS or your hierarchy. They will inform you that the relationship has nothing to do with implementing or completing your tasks.

In closing, I would like to state that pretenders can sadly be found in the consulting world posing as experts in nearly every improvement tool from Lean Six Sigma to Root Cause Analysis.  They tend to bounce from one consulting company to the next; they rarely last longer than a year at any given company unless they have been working as part of a team on large scale projects where their lack of expertise can remain hidden.


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3 Responses to Weeding Out the Pretenders!

  1. Mark O'Brien says:

    Thanks Doug,

    More transparency is needed. Every charlatan and fool only hurts the efforts of serious consultants and causes resentment and confusion among machine owners. Machines, like people are hurt by quacks, and so is the process needed to provide them a wellness program.

    • DPlucky says:

      Thanks for the reply, this happened to a good customer recently, the sad thing is once the PO has been cut there is little they could do about it. Sad to see but it happens every day!

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