The 8 Key Elements to Look for in Maintenance Software
Rhonda Kay Caviedes and Mitchell B. Knecht
Facility management personnel in all industries have waited a long time for computer technology to become applicable and affordable enough to implement in their respective maintenance efforts. In recent years, flexible, dependable and economical computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) have become available to help fight the never-ending struggle to operate and maintain buildings of all shapes, sizes and functions.
Meeting Maintenance Challenges
Maintenance and operation personnel are presented with more difficult challenges today than at any previous point. The biggest obstacle of all confronting maintenance professionals is being forced to do more with with fewer resources. Maintenance departments must deliver superior services, comply with regulatory requirements and provide detailed financial accountability all within the confines of limited and/or reduced budgets. In order to meet these challenges, educational and health care facility managers are arming themselves with economical computerized maintenance management systems.
The Right Tool
All maintenance professionals will agree that to get the job done right you must have the correct tools. The same is true when selecting a CMMS. There are hundreds of CMMS systems available on the market. However, many have been left behind as technology advances in leaps and bounds. Gone are the days of mainframe and mini-computer computerized maintenance management systems. Today, we usher in a generation of powerful, PC based CMMS solutions. These maintenance software solutions take advantage of the extensive capabilities of Microsoft Windows™ and include an abundance of functions to deliver compliance, service and productivity enhancements finely tuned to meet the needs of today’s maintenance departments.
When evaluating CMMS’s, there are eight major factors that should be considered. Careful examination of these factors during the evaluation process will help ensure ongoing CMMS success. This article explores each of these eight factors.
1) Comprehensive Maintenance Management Functionality
The main factor to consider when selecting a CMMS is the “core” product. It should be made up of three major elements: Work Management, Physical Assets Management and Resource Management. The Work Management component of the CMMS optimizes day-to-day operations, manages corrective work orders and supports a preventive maintenance program. In addition, some CMMS’s offer an added feature for detailed management of short duration on-demand work.
The Physical Asset Management component acts as the “filing cabinet” of the CMMS, providing quick and easy retrieval of important information such as: planned and unplanned work history, assets accounting information, warranty and service contracts, nameplate data, scanned documents, libraries of CAD drawings and complete descriptive information. After all, what good is all of the extensive information if you cannot access it easily.
The Resource Management component of a CMMS supports a full inventory and purchasing system. Furthermore, it tracks in-house labor and contracted service costs. Premier CMMS suppliers have field proven experience in data transfer of inventory, purchasing, and time card information to external financial systems.
2) Extensive Management Reporting Capabilities
A CMMS is only as good as the information that can be retrieved from it. CMMS’s provide extensive management reporting capabilities that include detailed and summary reports, graphical reports, and easy to use report writing tools that do not require programming knowledge.
3) PM Procedure Library
Select a CMMS system pre-loaded with mechanical and biomedical PM procedures. This PM procedure library will minimize the start up time necessary to establish and implement your PM program and provide conformance to generally accepted PM inspection schedules.
4) Support Regulatory Compliance
CMMS’s focus on providing tools that will assist in achieving compliance with an array of regulatory standards including JCAHO, life safety and OSHA. To achieve compliance, premier maintenance management systems support the work flow process necessary to record, assign and account for both the work and the measures taken to correct and/or prevent maintenance related problems. Look for quick one button access to equipment histories and a flexible, detailed, and graphical reporting mechanism for problem and resolution trending (quality assurance) analysis.
5) Multiple System Interfaces
Today’s CMMS should be capable of working together effectively and transparently with multiple systems. Direct interfaces between the CMMS and other diagnostic and monitoring systems such as building automation, predictive maintenance, and biomedical testing equipment can assist greatly in streamlining the maintenance process, by allowing maintenance personnel to respond to early warning signals before they escalate into critical repair problems. CMMS build upon these types of interfaces to automatically create work orders and update equipment histories based upon alarms and test results received through these interfaces. CMMS’s are also capable of interfacing with other technologies such as bar-coding for quick and accurate data entry.
6) Reliability Centered Maintenance Integration
Select a CMMS system that fully integrates and takes advantage of Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM). RCM uses the full capabilities of the modern PC and the Microsoft Windows™ software development environment to provide an interactive method for problem resolution. RCM provides maintenance professionals with: (1) an easy-to-use library of possible problems for major capital expenditure assets and critical patient care items, (2) problem diagnosis techniques, and (3) a recommendation to repair the cause of the problem and avoids repeatedly wasting money fixing its symptoms.
7) Harness The Power Of Microsoft Windows™
Select a PC based CMMS solution that is compatible with Microsoft Windows™. Look for a CMMS design that is founded on an industry standard programming architecture like Microsoft Visual Basic™, Microsoft Access™, and SQL.
Today’s CMMS objectives are fully realizable using the Microsoft Windows environment. User-friendly, yet powerful features such as: one button access to history, pending work orders, future PMs, electronic file folders for organizing information, and notification of duplicate work orders, now allows the maintenance professional to maximize results while minimizing time and effort.
8) Proven Expertise And On-Going Support
Rounding out the eight factors for CMMS success is the expertise and support of the CMMS supplier. The supplier of choice is one that has field proven longevity (10 years minimum) and offers a complete suite of services to complement the software system. Services to expect include: engineering consulting, data collection, data entry, training, implementation and post implementation support.
The selection and proper implementation of the correct CMMS is an integral part of achieving maintenance management success in the 1990’s for educational and health care facilities. Now, more than ever before, maintenance professionals can equip themselves with the modern tools to get the work done.
Rhonda Kay Caviedes and Mitchell B. Knecht, www.facilitymanagement.com