Because failure mode analysis depends on good field data, the means of recording such data must be conducive to accuracy. Generally, there’s a trade-off between accuracy and the amount of data collected; choose less data to get more accuracy. To get useful data, keep maintenance forms brief, generic, easy to use, and free of replication. If text isn’t clear and direct, rewrite until it is.

If you’re a manager, work toward having one standard form instead of a bewildering array of choices. Follow the "if in doubt, leave it out" rule.

If you’re a field tech, ask your manager to think through the purpose of any form and revise it accordingly. Let your manager know which information you think is useful and which is not. Offer to walk your manager through some situations in which you use the form.

A smart maintenance department doesn’t collect all the data it can possibly collect. It collects the right data to get the job done. When forms ask for too much data, they irritate people and waste time. They also provide bad data against which you will make decisions. Expect those decisions also to be bad.