Software Needs Cycle for Maintenance Management: CMMS Features You Need

By: on May 9, 2018

Maintenance is a critical element of any business in manufacturing, property management or other asset-heavy industries.

The problem is, maintenance teams in smaller businesses rarely get a big budget for the best solutions and end up spending too much time and money completing daily work orders.

As a maintenance manager, you need to invest wisely in technology. Adopting a select few CMMS features to start, as you grow and when you begin to optimize your maintenance operations will help you complete maintenance tasks cheaper and faster.

Luckily, modern CMMS vendors make this possible. And here, we use recent data from the thousands of maintenance software buyers who call Software Advice every year and from real users to give you a clear set of features you need at three stages of growth.

Methodology: To create this needs cycle, we looked at all Software Advice advisor interactions with maintenance software buyers from the last 24 months (over 5,000 interactions in all). From these interactions, we calculated the most requested CMS applications in each of three key business sizes to determine the stage at which different applications reach peak adoption.

3 CMMS Software Features You Need to START

These features are for small teams (two to 10 software users) just getting started with maintenance management automation.

1. Work Order Management

What it does: For most small business maintenance departments, this will be your core CMMS functionality: Users can create work orders by adding all the required details, such as description of the repair, location, asset information, images and more, and can assign them to technicians.

Why you need it to start: It’s the single most common feature requested by buyers and will likely be the most frequently used feature each day.

Maintenance teams that are just getting started need work order management to organize and assign work efficiently through a single system, instead of using inaccurate paper work orders that can easily be lost.

A list of work orders and associated details in UpKeep

2. Asset Tracking

What it does: Asset tracking systems do just as the name suggests: They store profiles for each machine or piece of equipment you need to oversee and can notify managers and technicians about upcoming dates regarding maintenance, depreciation or warranty information.

Why you need it to start: This functionality is the best method for keeping assets organized and preventing loss. If you don’t know the location and health of your assets, effective maintenance management is impossible.

Your asset data automatically populates work orders with all the necessary information to get the job done—location, make/model, images, user manual documents, repair history and description of the problem.

Asset tracking and work order management work in tandem to give you a clear workflow for repairs so nothing slips through the cracks.

Details and location of an asset in Fiix

3. Preventive Maintenance

What it does: Users create recurring preventive maintenance tasks (PMs) in the system and receive automatic notifications or work orders based on specific time intervals. This way, repairs or spot checks are performed only when necessary.

Why you need it to start: Nearly half of all CMMS buyers who contact Software Advice manage maintenance at a single site, and 58 percent have only two to 10 software users. In addition, as the number of assets and facilities increase, the low number of users stays relatively the same.

This suggests that small teams need to leverage technology for more efficient maintenance management early on in their development. Preventive maintenance is the key to completing more jobs each day at a lower cost with fewer technicians.

Setting up a preventive maintenance task in MicroMain

Key Considerations to START

  • When evaluating work order usability, demo the work order system with your technicians who will be interfacing with this feature everyday. To ensure the biggest impact, choose a system that your workers actually want to use.
  • Barcoding technology easily integrates with asset tracking to more quickly add, retrieve and edit information about hundreds of items at once. As you interact with CMMS vendors, check what kind of barcoding features are available.
  • Ask software vendors to demo some common types of recurring preventive maintenance tasks, such as lubrication checks, spare parts replacement or cleaning assets, so your users pick an option that is easy to use on a daily basis.

3 CMMS Software Features You Need to GROW

This section is for teams that need to reduce maintenance costs for a growing number of assets, without adding more technicians.

4. Inventory Management

What it does: Like asset management, inventory management software tracks all the parts and materials necessary to adequately maintain a variety of assets. Software also gives you tools to sort items into categories for easier retrieval and ordering. This way, you can:

  • See the inventory you have on hand
  • Reorder parts or materials at the optimal time
  • Minimize carrying costs
  • Use reporting to identify problems

Why you need it to grow: Carrying costs for spare parts can be thousands of dollars each year, but spare parts are a necessary part of maintenance management. Software analyzes data, such as repair history, to identify the most critical machinery to your operations; then you can minimize the carrying costs while making sure your most important assets are always working.

Inventory management software helps calculate the best time to reorder and organize parts so your team can focus on more specialized tasks.

Information about a spare part in Maintimizer

5. Vendor Management

What it does: Vendor management tools help track all the suppliers that contribute to your maintenance management operations, such as third-party maintenance teams, spare parts vendors or original equipment manufacturers.

This vendor and resource information syncs up with work orders and inventory management, so if a spare part is missing, managers know as soon as possible. This helps close the information loop instantly when work orders are created, ensuring all materials are available before the task is assigned.

Why you need it to grow: The ability to track where all your resources come from is increasingly important as companies grow.

Inventory Management in MaintiMizer

Nearly three quarters of maintenance software buyers who call Software Advice specifically ask for help managing inventory and spare parts costs—vendor management plays a role by keeping track of the information you need to keep carrying costs low.

Maintenance teams for these growing businesses gain more and more external partnerships, and vendor management capabilities help you track all of these relationships so that work requests are completed correctly and on time.

6. Reporting

What it does: Reporting capabilities leverage the loads of valuable data your team creates every day and generate charts and graphs that help you make decisions based on what’s really happening with your assets.

Modern systems include a set of templates to visualize common maintenance KPIs.

Why you need it to grow: Work orders and asset tracking are the core of your maintenance system and keep your operations moving, but reporting tools show you where to go. A data-driven maintenance management philosophy, backed up by the right technology, gives you a strong foundation to make smarter business decisions that help you grow.

A summary report generated in Hippo CMMS

Key Considerations to GROW:

  • If you have an employee who manages the inventory, allow them to personally demo the software’s ability to set up minimum reorder quantities. Reordering at the optimal time can reduce inventory costs significantly.
  • Scalability of your tools is key to growth.
  • Look for systems that offer customizable charts and graphs. Because maintenance is needed for many different industries, your team has specific KPIs to track. The ability to track site-specific maintenance goals gives you greater oversight of your maintenance maturity.

3 CMMS Software Features You Need to OPTIMIZE

This section is for companies with multiple sites or facilities that push their maintenance teams to optimize asset uptime and minimize costs with more proactive strategies.

7. Predictive Maintenance and Condition Monitoring

What it does: Often seen as an out-of-league tool for SMBs, predictive maintenance is one of the most sophisticated methods of eliminating unplanned downtime—and now, it’s affordable for many small companies.

  • Predictive maintenance enables the ability to create and assign work “just-in-time” using real-time data. So instead of scheduling PM tasks based on a calendar, you can wait until the asset tells you it needs repairs soon.
  • Condition monitoring refers to the concept of drawing data from machines as they operate using various types of sensors. This data is then streamed into the predictive maintenance module to send alerts when temperature, vibration or electrical readings exceed normal operating conditions.

Why you need it to optimize: Predictive maintenance is quickly becoming the standard method to keep up with assets in manufacturing, facilities and health care settings. The technology is more affordable than ever and offers a proactive way to save significant money by eliminating unnecessary labor.

Types of Sensors

Common types of sensors used in condition monitoring

8. KPI Dashboard

What it does: Dashboards offer every important production KPI you need to see on one customizable screen. Many systems offer some pre-made gauges and meters that indicate the status of a specific data source—for example, you can create a gauge that dips into the red when you have more than 20 percent of your work orders incomplete.

Why you need it to optimize: Visualizing the data your maintenance system creates everyday gives you proof that work is getting done and will reveal problem areas you can address as soon as they appear.

As a smaller team, your maintenance KPIs can be tracked using reporting, but more sophisticated maintenance management needs real-time data to handle greater volume and complexity.

A customizable dashboard view in FMX

9. ERP Integration

What it does: An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system connects multiple departments within an organization to allow for greater collaboration and communication.

If you maintain assets for a manufacturer, for example, the ERP will factor in production, purchasing, inventory, accounting and supply chain information to help you make smarter maintenance decisions.

Why you need it to optimize: Integrating your CMMS with an ERP represents a move toward holistic maintenance, where all relevant information that could impact maintenance tasks and decisions is available to managers.

ERPs are more affordable than ever, and even smaller companies can take advantage of all the data available in the organization.

Dashboard View in Blue Link ERP

Dashboard view in Blue Link ERP with enterprise-wide KPIs

Key Considerations to OPTIMIZE:

  • Vendors can offer solid advice about sensor technology that facilitates condition monitoring. Inquire about the types of sensors they recommend for your particular types of machines.
  • Ask vendors what onboarding or training they offer to begin data visualization. It’s important to start with a specific set of goals in mind so you know how to set up and track the right information.
  • As a maintenance manager, you should be involved in wider company discussions about adopting an ERP or integrating a CMMS. It’s important to make sure the information from other departments is actually valuable to your maintenance technicians.

What Are My Next Steps?

Ultimately, your specific maintenance software needs depend on your goals—establish these with your management. But the six features listed above can serve as the core capabilities you’ll use to manage maintenance at three important business stages.

With these in mind, you can make an informed decision about the CMMS products you decide to evaluate. If you need more information or help before starting your search, here are a few options.

  • Curious about pricing? You can fill out a brief questionnaire to find out the costs involved with maintenance management software and get help creating a short list.

And if you’re ready to begin the search, our software advisors can help. They’ll get information about your business and find the products that best match your specific needs. Call (855) 998-8505 for a free consultation.

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