Technical Blog Post
From the Maximo Support Desk - Ever Use The Observation Field? Probably Not Like This Customer Does...
I want to share the results of a recent interaction with one of IBM's clients in which the customer showed me a unique and very useful way that he was using a Maximo feature at his site - nothing short of brilliant. In technology, science, and art, the best solutions are simple, eloquent, and elegant. Maybe that's a fairly "highbrow" observation from this humble support engineer, but this customer showed me an impeccable example of this!
I've mentioned frequently in this forum that I enjoy finding out how our customers are using Maximo in their different industries and in their specialized work scenarios. I have learned quite a lot over the years from our customer base, and I will continue to document some of these brilliant customer-developed solutions and usages of Maximo - for the benefit of our other customers.
The scenario in this particular customer's environment is that there are some fairly complex Job Plans that have over 100 sequential tasks for different groups of service and field technicians to complete. The Work Order passes from group to group as the Job Plan Tasks get sequentially completed, and it is absolutely critical for each work group to know if the required calibrations and adjustments of the components from the previous tasks have been completed and verified by the previous work group. Additionally, there are strict federal regulations that must be adhered to and therefore it is critical that the previous tasks, which are calibrations and adjustments, have been performed to ensure the accuracy of the subsequent tasks. The problem that gets solved by the customer's creative use of Maximo is a model of efficiency, workflow integrity, and how to enforce shared responsibility for an end result by multiple teams and individuals. You will also observe that it solves a communication problem as well.
So... here's how this scenario was handled. The administrator determined that they would need to somehow save time and mitigate delays throughout the process. They also needed a process that would provide the confidence and assurance to each work group that the previous calibrations had not only been completed, but also verified and guaranteed to be compliant and reliable for the next group to proceed with. The immediate solution would have been to simply use the Maximo Flow Control functionality, but there is still an element of automation there that makes it very easy to change the Task Status to Complete without much thought. In the customer environment that I'm describing here, with such strict auditing and accuracy requirements, there needed to be a more "personal" sign off, and "stamp ofor the next work group to confidently proceed with the subsequent tasks.
So what did they do?
The solution here was to create an extra Job Plan task that follows each critical calibration, that gets used as a "sign-off", or validation from an engineer that the pre-requisite calibration task was completed and verified.
What's so great about that?
How the customer implemented these validation tasks at the critical points in the flow of tasks is pure Maximo finesse...
The methodology was to use the Observation field on the Work Order as the place for the engineer to "sign off" on the previous task. The "sign off" task is done as if it were a meter reading - only easier! The customer first set up a Characteristic Meter, that's associated with the out-of-the-box YORN1 domain. This domain has 2 values, Yes and No. This meter is then associated with the Job Plan task. So the engineer signs off on the previous task by simply selecting either Yes or No in the Observation field on the subsequent, "sign off" task row. Genius. Eloquent.
So the summary is that the out-of-the-box, YORN1 domain, simply gets used for a Characteristic-type meter reading. (a meter with a domain associated) The meter reading is the "sign off". These meter-reading tasks get inserted into the Job Plan at each point in the process where a validation is required. In other words, wherever an adjustment or calibration task gets performed in the Job Plan, the following task in the Job Plan is one of these "sign off", meter readings.
Another hidden value of using this method is that if this meter (or any meter) is associated to an Asset, then the meter reading history can be viewed. So theoretically, it can be determined whether or not all the required calibrations and adjustments were performed (or not). The timestamp of each meter reading can also be viewed in the meter reading history as well, so there's good auditing data available by circumstance here.
Pretty neat, huh? Maximo customers are the best and brightest.