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January 2, 2014

Apply These 5 CMMS Secret Techniques

Official US Navy photo maintenace on F/A-18F Super Hornet

Purchasing a computer maintenance management system (CMMS) can do wonders for your company, helping you to track your assets, keep machinery and equipment well maintained (and, in the long term, functioning), save money and increase profits – the list goes on and on. However, purchasing a CMMS is just the first step on your path to a better-oiled maintenance system. To get the most out of your software, I am going to share with you five secret CMMS techniques to improve your company.

Know Your Needs

This may sound silly, but the first secret to getting the most out of your CMMS is actually knowing what your specific needs are PRIOR to purchasing one. Not all CMMS are the same and because of this, most of the time you can’t just go pick one up off the shelf. You would be well served to take note of several things before making your final decision. First, decide what you really need the most out of a CMMS. Write it down on a notepad or in a spreadsheet, listing items of importance from highest to lowest in order. What are your “must haves” and what are your “wants”? There are some items you can live without and some that you can’t. Will the primary focus be tracking your assets – knowing where you store spare parts and warranties? Will it be to help schedule maintenance jobs? Only you know for sure what the most important features are for your company.

Ideally you will get a CMMS for all of the benefits they offer, but in a real-world scenario, that isn’t always feasible.

Keeping System Requirements in Mind

This is pivotal to your purchase decision and to your use of any CMMS – no matter who the vendor is. Like any software, maintenance management programs have a basic set of system requirements they must meet. These include memory, RAM, and CPU (central processing unit) speed, as well as what operating systems are supported. If you have multiple branches or locations, make sure that all of the computers that will be using the software (or vice versa) meet the requirements. I once worked in an environment where there were computers separated by 10 years in age! How some of them still even functioned is beyond me. You may need to upgrade your equipment to meet the expectations of the software. In the long run it will be worth it.

Keeping Your Software Up to Date/Researching the Vendor

This might also be a no-brainer, but knowing the track record of a vendor is very important. After all, you will be using your CMMS for a long time, and over time, your software, computer hardware, and operating systems are going to be upgraded. Most technology is upgraded every 18 months, if not sooner. Does your vendor update their CMMS frequently? How long after a new operating system hits the scenes do they update their program? Try to find a history of their past records, enquire about their future plans, and know the cost of these upgrades. Sometimes they are free and sometimes there is a fee.

If you already own your software, make sure you update it when new updates are available. Be on top of any known glitches and security issues, so you can prepare for them. Software isn’t perfect, and sometimes an upgrade can lead to unexpected issues.

Build a Relationship with Your Vendor

Building off of our previous point, you should focus part of your energy building a good relationship with your CMMS vendor. There are many reasons to do this, the least of which is price point and future negotiation. More importantly though, you want to make sure you can trust your vendor to respond in times of need, such as system crashes and glitches. Will they respond 24/7 or just during business hours? Will they go out of their way to assist you? Making a vendor a “friend” can go a long way to getting (and keeping) your system up and running.

Have More than One Administrator

Oftentimes companies will only have one CMMS administrator. Depending upon the size of your company, you may not be able to justify hiring more than one administrator. This is understandable. However, it is advisable to have at least one other person trained as an administrator. There are many reasons for this – even if the other person does not administrate normally as part of their job. First, it ensures you have a back-up in case the main administrator falls ill, takes a leave of absence, vacation, or leaves the company for any reason. You can quickly fall behind with an absentee administrator, and there can be severe disruptions in your maintenance system if this occurs.

Having more than one administrator also helps alleviate some of the responsibility from the main administrator, especially in times of crisis or busier times of year. Having two heads, as they say, is always better than one.

Links:
Report Finds CMMS’ Can Improve Outcomes

Lisa Richards

About the Author - Lisa Richards

Lisa Richards is an experienced professional in the field of industrial management and is an avid blogger about maintenance management systems and productivity innovation. Richards' undergraduate degree in Industrial Engineering opened the door for her initial career path with a Midwest-based agricultural implement manufacturer with global market reach. Over a span of 10 years, Lisa worked her way through various staff leadership positions in the manufacturing process until reaching the operations manager level at a construction and forestry equipment facility. Lisa excelled at increasing productivity while maintaining or lowering operating budgets for her plant sites. An Illinois native, Lisa recently returned to her suburban Chicago North Shore hometown to raise her family. Lisa has chosen to be active in her community and schools while her two young girls begin their own journey through life. Richards has now joined the MAPCON team as an educational outreach writer in support of their efforts to inform maintenance management specialists about the advantages in marrying advanced maintenance software with cutting-edge facility and industrial management strategies.

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