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5 Ways CMMS Software Gets You Laser-Focused on What Matters

By Jonathan Davis | October 21, 2019

Of course you want to be efficient, but to do that you first need to remove all those momentum-killing, energy-sucking distractions that keep you from focusing on your key tasks. And honestly, that's usually not easy. Unless you have the right CMMS.

A good CMMS platform, one that's packed with powerful features but also easy to use, lets you:
 
  1. keep your work order workflow flowing
  2. prioritize the work you do let through
  3. keep an eye on everyone's progress in real-time
  4. maintain a preventive maintenance program to reduce reactive, unscheduled work
  5. uncover important tasks you might not even know about

Let's look at them one at a time.

1. CMMS software helps you keep little unnecessary jobs from becoming big distractions

One of the best ways to guarantee failure it to split your attention. Ever tried to drive and send a text message at the same time? There's a reason it's illegal.

When your work order workflow gets clogged with unnecessary tasks, it's hard to stay focused. Instead of doing the work that needs to get done now, you're wasting time and effort on stuff that could have been safely put off or, in some cases, not done at all.

Is the solution to lock down the system completely so that you're the only one who can generate a work order? It would ensure that only important tasks get added to the to-do list. But here's the problem: now you have only important tasks on your to-do list, but you don't have all of them. A lot are getting missed. Even for the smallest operations, you can't expect one person to catch everything that needs to get done. It's just not possible. Instead, you need to encourage everyone to report problems. Everyone on the maintenance team. All the operators. Even the front-office folks. If they see something, they need to be able to report it quickly and easily. That way, nothing gets missed and every important task gets added to the list.

Here's where a CMMS starts to make your life easier. Good ones comes with a request portal that you can open up to anyone. People can quickly and easily submit requests. Emails aren't accidentally shuffled to junk mail folders. Text messages aren't accidentally sent to the wrong numbers. But now that you're fishing with such a large net, you're going to pick up stuff you don't want. It's great when an operator notices a strange sound coming from the hydraulic press and reports it. But what about when an admin from the front office starts submitting multiple tickets about the paper towels in the bathroom?

Here's where a CMMS keeps making your life easier. Remember, people are submitting *tickets*, not work orders. Once the CMMS has collected the catch of the day, it then lets you go through and generate work orders out of tickets you think are important and "throw back" any you don't. CMMS software helps you collect what you need and get rid of what you don't.

2. CMMS software puts the important tasks at the front of the line

Once you've cleared your work order workflow of any unnecessary tasks, it's time to put them in order. They're all important, and they're all going to get done, but you need to decide which ones are getting done first.

In some cases, you're going to prioritize based on criticality. Let's say you have two tasks, one is replacing the dead motor on a conveyor belt and the other is replacing a backup pump. Without that conveyor belt, your entire fulfillment operation grinds to an expensive halt. Without that backup pump? Replacing it is important, but you have some breathing room. It can wait.

Establishing criticality is actually a whole art and science all on its own, but on a basic level it boils down to asking one main question of each asset: How bad is bad? If this asset fails, of course it's bad. But, how bad is bad? Is bad just another word for annoying? Or, is it the kind of bad that can ruin your day? How much is this bad going to cost? In other cases, you can organize tasks sequentially. Need to replace the shear bolts on the snow blower the janitor uses to clear the employee parking lot? First, you'll want to fix the metal overhead door on the shed where the snow blower is stored and now trapped. Until you can open that door, you can't get to the snow blower to fix it.

The key takeaway here is not how you prioritize your work orders. It's that you can do it easily thanks to the CMMS. Once you've got your work orders all set, it's generally just a matter of a few clicks here and there to get them prioritized.

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3. CMMS software lets you generate and then keep tabs on work orders from anywhere, at any time, in real-time.

It's a lot easier to stay on top of a project when you can instantly access up-to-date information about it. Has the technician started on the work order yet? Have they closed it out yet? Are you waiting on parts? The more you know about the current amount of progress, the easier it is to get to the close-out.

To see how the CMMS makes this possible, it's helpful to compare it to traditional (, which is here just a nice way of saying out-of-date) paper- and spreadsheet-based systems. With paper-based work orders, there's usually one, copy that gets handed back and forth from department heads to technicians until it eventually gets lost altogether. Even when the system works as well as it can, it is cumbersome and slow.

Need to generate a work order?

Go back to your desk and get out your pen and forms.

Need to assign the work order?

Your technician needs to hustle all the way back to the maintenance office to pick it up.

Now that they have it and have started, need to find out how the technician is doing?

Call them back to the office or head out into the facility to track them down.

And this is when things are going smoothly. With spreadsheets, it's really not any better. It might seem like having a digital version of the work order makes it easier to share. But remember: you're not sharing the work order. Instead, you're creating a copy and then sharing that copy. And that means there are a bunch of disconnected copies floating around. When one of them gets updated, all the other copies immediately become out of date. But the people who have them don't know that.

With a cloud-based CMMS, everything is better. As soon as a ticket comes in, you're notified on your desktop or mobile device. You can quickly review the ticket and start to build a data-packed work order. With a couple of well placed clicks and some quick menu scrolling, you can include:

  • customizable checklists
  • associated materials and parts
  • digital copies of repair and maintenance manuals
  • complete asset work order history
  • priority level

If your CMMS is really good, it even has interactive floor maps.

And because everything is on a mobile-accessible CMMS database (not an easy-to-lose piece of paper or a soon-out-of-date spreadsheet), everyone is looking at the same, always-up-to-date information. This is especially handy when technicians are adding in notes, uploading digital images, and closing out work orders. With a CMMS, you never waste time hunting for scraps of paper or scrolling through old emails looking for long-lost file attachments. Instead, you're focused on what's important: where people are right now with their tasks.

4. CMMS software helps you set up and run a PM program to reduce reactive, unscheduled work

CMMS software is synonymous with preventive maintenance for a bunch of good reasons. A fully-featured, user-friendly CMMS platform makes setting up and closing out PMs so much easier. And that's important because of all the time, energy, money, and most importantly stress a good PM program saves you. Once you're set up to find and fix small issues before they become unmanageable, budget-busting problems, your whole life is going to be easier. Here's how.

First, work gets done according to a schedule, not randomly when things unexpectedly break down. Everyone gets to come into work every day knowing exactly what they're going to be doing. No more surprises. And because work is scheduled far in advance, you can make sure you have the materials and parts you need. No more last-minute rummaging around the inventory closet. And no more running to fix an asset only to discover a critical part is sitting three days away in a supplier's warehouse. Planning ahead means you have what you need, when you need it. Second, it's always going to be cheaper to change the oil than replace a seized engine. All your assets are going to last longer and cost less to keep running. 

5. CMMS software keeps you on top of all the important tasks, including the ones hiding in plain sight.

Sometimes you can't stay on top of all the important tasks because you don't know what all of them are. Sounds strange, right? Of course you should know what's important and what's not. Well, can you answer the following questions:

  • Which work order from last month cost you the most in manpower, material and parts, and lost productivity?
  • Which asset has cost you the most to keep running in the last six months? How much did it cost and what percentage of your overall budget did it eat up?

If you don't know the answers and don't know how to find them, you need a CMMS.

If you don't know the answers but know you could find after spending a lot of time and energy with a calculator and a pile of paperwork, you need a CMMS.

Because any CMMS worth its salt has auto-generated reports full of key performance indicators (KPIs) that paint the maintenance big picture for you. Once you know where your money is going, you can start to take steps to spend less in those areas. Then, by tracking the same KPIs over time, you can track your progress. Interested in learning more about KPIs? Check out our blog post on what they are and how to use them, Classic KPIs for CMMS ROI.

Next steps

Imagine how much better your life is going to be with a CMMS platform. Imagine yourself organizing everything from your desktop or mobile device. Tracking every work order in real-time. Setting up and running a smooth preventive maintenance program. Leveraging CMMS data to find out where the money is really going, and finally getting your budget under control. Just imagine it.

Then take some time to remember life now without a CMMS. Old-fashioned work orders that easily get lost or become out of date. That frustrating lag between things happening and you knowing about them. Unpredictable, reactive maintenance. All those unknowns.

Now start calling CMMS providers.

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Topics: cmms preventative maintenance plan interactive floor plans computerized maintenance management software cmms benefits


Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.


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