According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, in 2016 there were 28.8 million small businesses representing 99.7 percent of all US businesses. These businesses employed 56.8 million people representing 48% of all US employees across a broad spectrum of industry, service and corporate sectors (United States Small Business Profile, 2016). Small businesses form a vital part of the economic landscape and according to these statistics; they are definitely an economic force to be reckoned with.
So what constitutes a small business and what challenges do they face? To begin, small businesses vary in size, structure and sales. The US Small Business Administration sets standards for small businesses but in general, the agency ascribes $35.5 million in sales and 1500 employees as thresholds for inclusion in this category. By way of examples, small businesses cover the gamut of operations including single operator run businesses and “Mom and Pop” operations at one end to Start Ups, Non-Profit and all the way to mid and large size operations at the other end. Along with diversity in size and scope within the small business sector, come a number of challenges; many of which are similar to those facing big business entities. These include increased marketplace competition, economic demands and changes in technology. For small businesses with multiple and complex assets, inspection requirements, safety concerns and multiple sites, having a maintenance management approach that keeps pace with these demands is imperative. For these reasons small businesses have joined their big business counterparts in seeking ways of improving their maintenance strategy.
Until recently, businesses of all sizes relied primarily on “pencil and paper” or spreadsheet approaches to maintenance management. Although useful in its time, an increasing number of business owners are now finding that these approaches have fallen short of their maintenance objectives particularly when it comes to the added costs associated with time, resource and staff allocations. With an aim toward functioning better, faster, smarter and leaner, businesses are motivated to find ways of improving operations efficiency by reducing costs, saving time and resources and ultimately, achieving a greater return on investment (ROI). With these limitations and goals at the forefront, business owners are increasingly turning toward Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) as their maintenance management solution.
For those considering automated maintenance management systems as an alternative to manual ones, it is important to note that CMMSs have become the preferred maintenance management solution for companies representing a wide range of industry, service and corporate sectors. These sophisticated and robust maintenance management systems utilize thousands of data points that at any given time provide a user with an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, the status of an individual piece of equipment. They have the ability to monitor inventory levels, track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and most important, they can instantly determine which company assets require routine preventive maintenance. CMMSs offer small business owners an efficient facility management solution that overtime offer benefits such as increased organizational efficiency, extended equipment lifespans, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced costs and increased profits.
A key benefit of maintenance management systems is its customizability. This means that the CMMS maintenance softwares can meet the individual needs of businesses large and small, and with differing numbers of assets, users, sites and preventive maintenance requirements. Automated systems also have the ability to adjust to the changing needs of organizations as they grow and reformulate. Utilizing a CMMS maintenance software means that the system adapts to the organization and not the organization adapting to the system. The following is a list of other features well suited toward small businesses:
Cloud Based Software – Many CMMS systems offer cloud-based deployment, which means that they are accessed through a vendor’s server with all maintenance and upgrades, provided remotely. There is no need for any in-house system support or additional security software. Cloud based systems take the work, worry and added costs out of maintenance and upgrades.
User Access Capabilities – CMMSs make it possible to assign different levels of system access for users based on security, role descriptions or other considerations. Whereas maintenance managers can be assigned comprehensive access to the system, maintenance techs can be assigned limited access to specific areas of the system.
Mobile Access and Portability – One of the most appealing features of CMMS maintenance software is mobile device access which makes it possible for maintenance technicians to place work orders, check inventory levels, order parts or generate reports etc. while in the field. Being able to access a CMMS dashboard from any device with an Internet connection is an enormous time saver because it reduces unnecessary time delays when having to rely on office based computers to complete these tasks.
Image Capturing Capabilities – Having mobile device accessibility also makes it possible for maintenance staff to capture images via bar code scanning and photos. These CMMS integrated features are able to accurately identify equipment in need of repair and capture a scanned image of a part’s barcode in need of replacement. Both features reduce often-costly delays associated with mistakes made regarding a piece of equipment being serviced or a part being ordered.
Access to Architectural Drawings – Also known as blueprints, architectural drawings are a rendering of an architectural design as plan and/or elevation views of a building or structure. Many CMMSs make it possible to access them from the system dashboard providing another way to identify the exact location of equipment as well as any electrical and plumbing placements that may impact its functioning.
CMMS Support – CMMS maintenance softwares are only as good as how they are implemented and used. During the implementation phase of an automated system all critical data regarding inventory, assets and users are entered along with configuration of preventive maintenance schedules. CMMS vendors offer clients a choice of in house audits or remote and telephone tech support for implementation purposes. In addition to these supports, many CMMS companies include in their system packages a variety of onboarding and ongoing resources to assist users in system use across time. These resources are available as online manuals, videos, email, chat and webinar recordings as well as telephone support.
Small businesses are a vital part of the economy. As such, they are challenged to find the most effective ways of achieving operations and maintenance efficiencies. CMMSs are designed to meet the diverse needs of all companies now and as they continue to grow and evolve in the future.