Implementing RCM? 5 Mistakes You Need to Avoid

If you are considering to employ  RCM analysis  at your facility, it means you have recognized the need for a change in your maintenance strategies. Reliability-centered maintenance is an excellent way to keep your plant or machinery up and running by helping you choose the optimal maintenance strategy for all of your important assets. 


There are several examples out there that can confirm the value of RCM. In one steam turbine plant , the RCM methodology projected labor cost savings of 25% and around 80% of total downtime cost. Similarly, there are reports that NASA saved $300,000 with RCM .

However, to reap those kinds of benefits, you need to know how to actually conduct an RCM analysis and what are some common mistakes you want to avoid.

As you might have already guessed, in this article, we will talk about the various mistakes managers make when using reliability-centered maintenance.

1) Focusing on just one strategy

The first mistake some maintenance managers make when implementing RCM is to have just one strategy, instead of a multi-pronged approach.

Having multiple ways to eliminate faults and strategies to reduce faults and incidents is the way to go, starting with the 7 questions that you need to ask when implementing RCM.

While not every company can boast of having the best-trained maintenance staff, bringing in people of different backgrounds, such as electricians, mechanics, controls specialists etc. can certainly help in listing down the possible failure root causes and then come up with ideas for mitigation and prevention.

Additionally, just because you might be predominantly using predictive maintenance at your facility, that doesn’t mean how every asset you have should be outfitted with sensors. Some assets will be fine on a simple preventive maintenance plan - and RCM will show you when that is indeed the case.

2) Lack of training for employees

Your biggest stakeholders when it comes to implementing RCM are your employees, especially the maintenance crew. A common mistake when implementing RCM is to not give them an idea of what to expect, not involving them in the process, not listening to their concerns and feedback and expect 100% compliance with the new way of doing things.

Post-RCM implementation, your maintenance SOPs, and plans may be completely altered, which means that some amount of training might be required. You may also wish to implement new maintenance strategies that you haven’t used so far, making training essential.

To fully utilize your team, make sure that the training plan is discussed with the employees and their questions are addressed during the training.

3) Expecting immediate impact on maintenance costs

Another mistake some managers make is that they implement RCM and then wait to see if the maintenance costs fall immediately. Instead, you should expect to see savings only after 12-18 months of RCM.

The best way to figure out if your maintenance costs are improving is to get condition monitoring results and gather baseline data to compare the operating performance variables, from before and after RCM. Plotting the data will help you judge trends better, and show some tangible benefits.

This way you can prove to management that the RCM approach is bearing fruits for the company.

4) Not getting buy-in from higher management

Ever faced a situation where you had a great project running smoothly until a few vendor issues come along and you needed some extra funding or other approvals?

If your company management doesn’t back you at those times, the whole project can fail or run into big issues. The takeaway is that if you don’t have the support and backing from the company management, you will face issues in getting approvals and backing when it is needed most.

Tackle this by briefing your boss and managers well in advance, and set the right expectations for the benefits of RCM, so that you neither over promise nor under deliver.

5) Not collecting the right data

Another mistake to avoid when using RCM approach is not having the right data available.

Start collecting the data required for analyzing which of your assets and equipment will require RCM. To do this, you may need maintenance logs, breakdown reports and the original manufacturer’s recommendations from the manual.

While you may be trying to save money by utilizing free existing software, you will have a lot of problems figuring out how to accurately track different performance variables that show if the assets are performing better after RCM and if the strategy you chose to implement actually resulted in reduced operational costs over time. 

The best way to avoid this challenge is to utilize the data stored in a CMMS to help you conduct RCM analysis and to consequently monitor performance and cost metrics.


RCM may not be right for everyone, but it is a great idea for understanding the root cause of failures and faults in your assets. By asking the 7 questions that are at the heart of RCM, you can gain valuable insight into preventing or fixing faults before they ever become a problem.

The right RCM program will lead to identifying opportunities and methods to increase operational uptime and decreased planned downtime . Now that you know the common mistakes to avoid, you can prepare better.

Like with many other maintenance related tasks, implementing RCM can be streamlined with the use of a modern CMMS. Just ensure that you leverage the talent and knowledge within your team effectively in order to make the implementation a success.


Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO at Limble CMMS

Cmms | 19.3.2019

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