I have had many conversations with colleagues about the reports we present to our bosses and customers. It is interesting to hear about the variation of information that is reported.
Building a status report (annual or quarterly) can be time consuming. Gathering data, deciding what should be included and formatting this information takes thought and preparation. We need to ensure we are informing and not boring our audience with the details of our operation. I have built many annual reports for my customers and have learned from these challenges. I would like to share some strategies that I developed.
The activities needed to track and maintain medical equipment are many. Our foundational responsibilities are adding and deleting equipment and scheduling and repairing it. When you factor in regulatory agency inspections, recalls, incident investigation and leading a team of technicians, it is easy to understand how spending time on an annual report could get pushed to the bottom of the to do list. Pulling together a good report will take many hours to complete. The time factor alone makes it susceptible to derailment since most of us barely get an hour without interruption. Working on the report requires a strategy that mitigates interruptions in order to keep the process moving forward. I break my report down into six parts: employees/team; work requests; inventory; savings; special projects; and goals. Over the course of a month, I work on each of these sections individually.
Our own technical nature is one obstacle that stands in the way of building a good report. As engineers and technicians, we love our acronyms and our data. We also have a mindset that solving problems is just part of our job. We tend not to recognize that the special requests and problems we solve should be shared with our bosses and customers because we feel they are just “part of our job.” The result is a report filled with graphs and data but missing the many value-added activities we do daily to assist our customers. I am as guilty as anyone. I love graphs and data and that is what I want to see in a report. However, if you are running a good program without any issues with core responsibilities, our bosses and customers need to know what additional activities we are performing to support the operation. Creating a report full of data and graphs about preventative maintenance (PM) and corrective maintenance (CM) only, tends to be overly technical and doesn’t really accomplish anything.
Putting together everything needed for a report can take forever, from searching through the many work requests, to identify all our value -added tasks and special projects. This time-consuming process made me think that I need to find a better way to capture this data. I have started a file to store valued-added activities and notable events to easily retrieve them for the next report. I also learned that I should spend a little time on it monthly, while events are fresh, to ensure nothing is missed.
When building my report, I keep in mind the purpose of the report. What am I trying to accomplish? As a service provider, I need to illustrate to the customer that I am meeting and trying to exceed their expectations. I include small graphs of PM and CM completion percentages, but I also provide value-added analysis such as identifying high-failure devices and preventable physical damage. I want to ensure that the contents are beneficial and meaningful to customers. Finally, and most importantly, I try to keep it as non-technical as possible. My ultimate goal is to make the report understandable to people outside of my world and to wow them with what we have done for them.
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