During the past two decades, businesses of all sizes have felt the effects of highly competitive markets, technological changes and economic challenges. For these reasons, business owners are seeking ways of operating smarter, faster and leaner; primarily in the area of operations maintenance. Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) systems were developed with these objectives in mind and because of that, they are now the preferred maintenance management solution for a growing number of customers across a broad spectrum of industry, corporate and service sectors.
CMMS Software offers businesses the ability to track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and instantly determine which of their assets requires preventive maintenance or repairs. This latter feature, preventive maintenance (PM) represents the backbone of maintenance management software. The ability to schedule PM work orders using variable and customizable settings, remotely sending notifications regarding pending, in progress or late work orders, and then instantly generating PM reports is the drawing card for most companies wishing to not only improve efficiency and reduce costs, but also make decisions about their operations as they move forward. The introduction of preventive maintenance into maintenance management software has been responsible for extended equipment lifespans, improved organization, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced operational costs and increased company profits.
Given their proven track records, there is no doubt that CMMSs are excellent maintenance management products. However, the question that remains, “Is CMMS software right for my business size?” Here, I’ll attempt to provide an answer.
About 50 years ago when automated maintenance management software first made its presence, wireless and cellular access was nonexistent. At that time, CMMSs were restricted to large punch card computers. Mainly because of the cost of the equipment as well as the expertise needed to run them, these early systems were only attractive to very large manufacturing companies. Since that time, CMMSs have evolved and today they have the capabilities and price points that are able to match the unique needs of businesses, large and small. This is largely due to their versatility, customizability and affordability.
Today’s CMMSs possess a wide range of features that make them easy to use, portable and very efficient. With minimal technical skills beyond a click of a mouse or a tap on a tablet, maintenance staff can place work or inventory orders, track job progress, transmit reports and much more. All maintenance management procedures can be done from the software dashboard. This means there is no longer a need for hard copy work or inventory orders that often result in time delays as well as unneeded paper clutter. Since most CMMSs operate on WIFI or cellular access, maintenance staff can conduct their work from wherever they may be. There is no need to return to a computer station to access a CMMS. As well, the system’s camera and integrated scanning capabilities make it possible to capture and transmit photos or barcodes thus enhancing maintenance operations by reducing error, staff utilization and time.
One of the greatest benefits of today’s CMMSs rests in its ability to adapt to an organization instead of an organization having to adapt to it. Being customizable means that CMMSs are able to meet the individual needs of businesses large and small, and with differing numbers of assets, users, sites and preventive maintenance requirements. Most importantly, they also have the ability to adjust to the changing needs of organizations as they grow and reformulate.
As noted, preventive maintenance programs (PMs) represent the most valued aspect of CMMSs because they are largely responsible for extended equipment lifespans, improved organization, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced operational costs and increased company profits. PMs can also be tailored to the individual needs of any company. For example, customized PM programs may focus on ideal operations downtimes or guided by equipment manufacturer and/or industry guidelines or be set to a combination of both strategies. Beyond these parameters, maintenance programs can trigger PMs using a predetermined calendar schedule (i.e., daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, annually) or by specified meter readings (i.e., run time hours, pounds per square inch, mileage, etc.).
Another useful CMMS feature is the ability to allocate user access based on business owners’ needs. With this feature, user access can remain open to all staff or alternatively, restricted in varying degrees based on a user’s role, responsibility or even location within a facility.
Finally, automated maintenance software is available in two formats; cloud based and on premise stand-alone systems. Each offers its own array of features including preventive maintenance capabilities but differ in terms of cost and resource requirements. On premise CMMSs are often attractive to business owners who prefer to have more control of company data security and maintenance while cloud based systems are popular because of their ease of use and no maintenance requirements.
The CMMS market has grown tremendously in recent years in response to the demand for more efficient ways of managing maintenance operations. Recognizing the diversity in businesses in terms of their size, form and function, CMMS vendors have responded in kind by offering a variety of products to suit company needs and budgets. CMMS systems are typically bundled in a range of price points and customers are able to choose among these while benefiting from a number of added features such as unlimited users or different levels of ongoing tech support, to name a few. Alternatively, customers may also select from more basic packages but still have the option to add on services based on their specific needs and budget. Using these approaches, small companies can be assured of not “over buying” but still benefit from a powerful CMMS software system that will be a good fit for their business size. On the other hand, large scale businesses with multiple locations may benefit most from CMMS packages that offer vendor supplied asset and inventory audits and in-house onboarding.
CMMSs offer businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors an opportunity to run their operations with maximum efficiency and cost savings. Large or small, CMMS software is able to meet the needs and budgets of all business sizes. The challenge is to carefully research the available products and make decisions based on company needs, goals and budget.