Spreadsheets are commonly used by facility and maintenance managers to track the assets and operations they oversee. On the surface, spreadsheets seem like a reasonable solution.
With all these benefits why would managers look into systems like computerized maintenance management software (CMMS), computer aided facility management systems (CAFM) or facility management software (FMS)? After all, these software systems are much more expensive (compared to MS Excel), less familiar, and require a lot of time and effort to implement and train staff on.
Yes, it seems that the benefits of spreadsheets are vast but we shouldn’t disregard CMMS systems so quickly, and in fact, we should consider embracing them as part of our operations. The following are 10 reasons why managers should ditch their spreadsheets and invest in facility management and maintenance management software.
Companies that provide services to tenants and other customers can improve the service they provide with facility management software and CMMS. These systems allow tenants, staff and other customers to submit service requests in real-time and have requests automatically routed to the service provider. Customers can be e-mailed status updates and easily check on progress. Spreadsheets cannot deliver this, and if managers want to keep customers in the know of the status of their requests, they must do this manually. Manually updating requesters requires a lot of time, is unreliable, and prone to error. Ultimately, customers and tenants will be more satisfied with a company that uses a maintenance or facility management system that keeps them updated on their service requests.
Facility management and maintenance software act as a centralized hub for important documents. People working in facilities and maintenance departments often need to access critical documents like floor plans, operations manuals, warranties, images, vendor and supplier contracts, lease agreements, invoices, purchase orders and more. All of these documents are easily stored and accessed within the database. In the absence of software, you can spend hours or even days looking for an operations manual or a mechanical drawing. Spreadsheets fail in comparison to facility management and CMMS software when it comes to managing and accessing important documents.
One of the biggest advantages CMMS and FMS have over spreadsheets is their ability to send out automated notifications and alerts to different parties. The software can be configured to send out e-mails and text messages when important events are due. Notifications are sent when service requests are made, inventory items have reached a critical threshold, preventive maintenance needs to be performed, inspections are due, warranties are approaching expiration, or a breakdown has occurred.
Further, alerts are automatically sent when work has not been responded to within a specific time period. For example, if a technician has been notified that an elevator is out of service but has not responded to the notification within an hour, the facility manager will be notified allowing them to act quickly. Using spreadsheets result in managers being reactive and often acting when it’s too late. Whereas, maintenance software enable managers and technicians to be proactive, avoid breakdowns, and respond faster.
Building maintenance software has preventive and scheduled maintenance features that automatically trigger work orders according to a set schedule. Some systems even trigger tasks when readings have hit a critical threshold (Meter-based PMs). Notifications can be sent prior to the scheduled event as well as when maintenance is due. If the work has not been completed, alerts are sent to supervisors. Without software, preventive maintenance can easily go unattended, resulting in more frequent downtime and higher repair costs. Spreadsheets go as far as documenting when preventive maintenance and inspections are scheduled to occur, but don’t go much further. If preventive maintenance is a priority at your organization, it’s probably best not to rely on spreadsheets.
We all know that if you are competent with using spreadsheets you can create some amazing reports. Upper management is impressed when they are presented with pie charts, bar graphs, and scatter diagrams. It demonstrates that you know your stuff and put some effort into the presentation.
Facility and maintenance management software deliver comparable reporting capabilities and more. Aside from powerful report writing tools, software packages come with canned reports built in. These are reports required by managers including; overdue work orders, upcoming preventive maintenance and inspections, monthly maintenance costs, labor costs and utilization, equipment life cycle analysis, and inventory levels to name a few. Imagine the time it would take someone to correctly build these reports in a spreadsheet.
Reports can also be scheduled and automatically emailed out when required. For those managers that love their spreadsheets, CMMS reports can be extracted and modified using spreadsheet functions. Many maintenance systems also have customizable dashboards allowing users to view real-time data on key performance indicators (KPIs).
In the ten last years we have seen a shift toward web-based software allowing access through a browser. This basically gives users access anywhere, anytime so long as there is an internet connection. More recently, with the proliferation of wireless internet, software users can access their database from smart phones or tablets. The same e-mail notifications and alerts can now be received remotely, not restricting users to desktop computers. This results in faster response time, less paper, and better communication. This level of accessibility is not achievable with spreadsheets.
Implementing facility management software and CMMS are recognized as effective ways to reduce building energy consumption. CAFM allow managers to easily report on systems that are performing poorly and make timely decisions for when equipment should be upgraded or maintenance is required. Maintenance software comes equipped with reporting tools that identify failing equipment and allow managers to see trends. The value the software adds to preventive maintenance programs is seen as a step towards greener building operations. This is why having a maintenance software system in place gets the facility one point towards LEED accreditation.
Facility and maintenance management software do a better job at recording events compared to spreadsheets. When a service request is submitted, the software automatically makes a record of the requester’s name, contact info, time and date of the request. The software also makes a record of who responded and when he or she responded. In fact, the software automatically logs every transaction. Imagine doing this with a spreadsheet involving multiple people adding records. It would be nearly impossible.
CMMS and FMS have the ability to streamline the entire work order process, something not possible with spreadsheets. With maintenance software in place, staff and customers can submit requests, which can be approved (or rejected) and dispatched out to maintenance staff and outside vendors. The software automatically logs request time, when it was received and every transaction throughout the work order process. Photos, invoices, and other important documents can be added to work orders for reference. Maintenance managers can easily pull data on response time, time to complete and costs involved. As noted, email notifications and alerts are generated keeping all parties updated on work order status. Better work order management processes also result in faster response time and reduces equipment downtime.
If you are currently using spreadsheets, chances are things are falling through the cracks. Preventive maintenance is not being performed as planned. There is an inverse relationship with preventive maintenance and unplanned maintenance. Equipment downtime and repair costs decrease as preventive and planned maintenance increase. There are cost savings to be had with better documentation and reporting on vendor and technician performance, labor utilization, and equipment performance. CMMS and FMS also have inventory management tools which allow companies to optimize inventory levels, keeping inventory low, but having supplies available when needed – another cost saver. Providing managers with powerful maintenance software reporting tools enable them to make better decisions that save the company money.
Typically, maintenance software systems show an ROI in less than a year and a 5-15% reduction in maintenance costs can be expected. The cost reduction is even greater if there is no preventive or planned maintenance system in place and maintenance is reactive. Many variables are involved in ROI calculations, but given the benefits described in this article, a proper CMMS or facility management software implementation can be a huge cost saver.
WRITERS NOTE: We can understand your skepticism; a CMMS company telling you why maintenance software is great can be a little off-putting. However, we stick by not only our own CMMS system, but also maintenance software solutions in general. And you don’t have to take our word for it, click here to read one of many client success stories.
Read our blog post for more information on why companies choose spreadsheets over CMMS.