Maintenance managers are no better than their tools, and physical tools are no more important than virtual ones — the systems that house work orders, task, and asset documents. When was the last time you gave your CMMS software a thorough evaluation?
If you don’t know that CMMS stands for “computerized maintenance management software,” it’s a safe bet you’re using paper workflows or a spreadsheet system. That in itself is a reason to upgrade. But even if you already have a centralized system in place, you should regularly assess its health and performance, just as you would with your facilities.
As the SaaS and mobile revolution swept through the IT industry, many enterprise systems, including CMMS, have evolved. The market is still expanding. Facility and maintenance management software is expected to pass $43 billion by 2019, according to MarketsandMarkets. If you haven’t surveyed the landscape of software vendors recently, to compare new CMMS features and flexible pricing options, now might be the time.
How well does your current computerized maintenance management software meet your needs? Here are six signs it may be time for an upgrade.
Lack of Visibility
How much do you know about the performance and maintenance of your assets and facilities, at any given moment? If it takes a full day just to draw up a basic status report, how will you make a quick decision when the fate of your job, or the continuity of service, or the safety of workers depends on it?
A modern CMMS solution should provide real-time visibility by tracking and reporting on any number of facility and equipment metrics, from failure codes to downtime, work order completion, use hours, and parts inventory. Of course, not every user will have a need for these metrics during every procedure, but bringing all of your data into one system provides convenient access for facility managers and other decision-makers. Permission based access provides users with the ability to utilize specific features while blocking access to features that they don’t require. Permissions can easily be modified to reflect the needs of each user, helping to de-clutter the interface and simplify their immediate task at hand.
In every industry, there are codes and regulations that govern safety, maintenance, and functional service levels. In a paper-based world, staying compliant with these regulations requires a lot of manual effort and — most likely — a facilities manager with a mind like a steel trap.
The right computerized maintenance management software can automate much of this process to increase compliance rates and minimize redundant labor. Track the status of your equipment, vehicles, or facilities, and set notifications to remind you of warranty expirations and routine inspections. You can also log repair history, house all asset and equipment documents including O&M manuals, spec sheets, ID tags and equipment model images, and maintain a clean audit trail for future inspections or requests.
Changes at Work that Affect Maintenance
If you only manage a few pieces of equipment or a smaller facility, you may not feel the need for a dedicated software system. You’re managing just fine with spreadsheets and a filing cabinet. For the time being, that may be true. But if circumstances change — new vehicles/equipment, upgraded facilities, or new regulatory challenges — your current workflows might become suddenly insufficient.
If any of these changes are on the docket for the next six months, it’s a good idea to start researching solutions now and get a system in place. With the emergence of more SaaS vendors offering affordable CMMS solutions, even the smallest of operations can benefit from streamlined work order management and a database of outside contractors. CMMS solutions are also scalable and can easily grow with a business to reflect changing operational needs. By researching options now or starting off with simple CMMS features, you’ll be ahead of the game when the time comes to make larger-scale implementation decisions.
For tips on how to save time researching CMMS vendors, download our free CMMS guide.
Your Technicians are Carrying Clipboards
There’s nothing “wrong” with using a clipboard in and of itself. Technicians and maintenance staff have worked from paper for decades before the advent of modern business software. But if you own a CMMS and your workers are still doubling their efforts with paper-based processes and data re-entry, it may be time to consider an upgrade.
A cloud-based or hybrid cloud system should eliminate the need for older, redundant workflows by providing real-time access to data and reports from any location. Many vendors even provide native mobile apps so technicians can read, submit, modify and complete work orders from their smartphones and tablets.
Lack of Integration
Does your current CMMS exchange data with other relevant business systems, such as inventory management, property management, and accounting? If you’re using a 10-year-old server-based product whose vendor stopped releasing updates, the answer is probably no. This kind of horizontal integration is important in making sure your maintenance unit supports the rest of the business.
To that end, look for a CMMS that either supports native integration with the systems you use (plug and play), or provides a flexible API (application program interface) for custom integration. If all else fails, make sure your maintenance data can easily be extracted from your database without a penalty fee for doing so.
Failing Work Order Process
Work orders are the lifeblood of almost any maintenance operation, so managing them efficiently can make the difference between success and failure as a business unit. If your first-time fix (FTF) rate is low and your work orders frequently behind schedule, you can usually trace the problem to faulty workflows or poor data management.
For example, your current CMMS doesn’t offer a built-in inventory feature connected to work orders, so your technicians often get halfway through a job before they realize they don’t have the necessary parts or materials. As you research systems, try to find one that supports your current workflows and can bring improvements where necessary. It’s also important that the work order feature extends user access to company staff and customers — whoever might have a stake in your facilities and equipment.
Maybe the real question to ask yourself isn’t When is it time to upgrade? but What’s holding me back? As CMMS solutions become increasingly affordable and accessible, maintenance units in every industry are adopting new systems to improve the way they work and reduce overhead costs. Don’t wait until it’s too late to find your next cmms software. If you identify with any of the symptoms on this list, it’s time to start doing research and comparing products.