Web Based vs Desktop Based CMMS

So, you’ve made your decision.  You’ve done the research, gotten some advice, and have decided that it’s time to make life a bit easier—for your employees, your customers and you—by purchasing a quality Computerized Maintenance Management System or CMMS.  You’ve also come to the conclusion that the software has to meet all your needs, while being flexible and intuitive enough to address those needs that will arise in the not-so-distant future.  But one of the questions that may remain is; should you purchase web-based CMMS software, or a desktop-based system?  Let’s take a look at both, beginning with the desktop approach.

Desktop Based CMMS

The desktop system, or network system, is an internal system that is usually installed and maintained by your company’s IT department.  Utilizing this method, your company has complete control over all the hardware and software.  For the company with the expertise and manpower required to use this method, the desktop-based software has some advantages.

However, should there be any problem with the server, or should the need arise to upgrade to faster, more efficient hardware—these costs are incurred by you.

Web Based CMMS

The web based approach, on the other hand, is basically outsourced to a third party’s servers.  What that means is; you access the software over the Internet using a web browser.  Your company is not maintaining software, updates, patches, etc.  Your company is doing its job and leaving the job of running to software to your CMMS provider.  For many companies, this savings in manpower makes the web-based approach a better option.

In addition, you have access to a desktop based CMMS software when you’re logged into your computer in the office, but with a web based CMMS, you can access the software anywhere you have an Internet connection—anywhere in the world!  Your software goes with you to the site, through your laptop or mobile device, giving you the advantage of making assessments and solutions to problems in real time.

Also, utilizing a web based CMMS, you are free from any hardware issues that may occur.  If the servers running the web based software go down, it’s the third party’s responsibility—not yours—to fix or replace the server.  And, unlike the desktop CMMS, you’re not spending time upgrading software, wondering if the rest of your team has done the same.  All upgrades are done “behind the scenes”, so you can concentrate on using the software, not fixing it.

It’s fairly easy to see how the advantages of web-based CMMS software easily outweigh the advantages of the desktop approach.  But always remember; any software is only as good as the people using it.  So whether your purchase is web based or desktop based software, make sure it’s the right tool for you and your company.  In the end, it may be the best investment you’ll make.

Live Tracking of Facility Maintenance Work Performance

What is your maintenance staff doing right now?  Are you sure?

Every manager worries about productivity and ensuring on-time work performance.  Many know that their staff could be more productive, but don’t currently have a means to correct this deficiency.  You don’t have to remain in the dark.

A growing trend in facility maintenance is using web based CMMS systems to track work performance using barcodes to provide start and stop times.  The use of barcodes gives two advantages – you know that the worker was standing in front of the equipment or work area plus they can automatically pull up work instructions when they scan, saving them time.

Time stamps can be compared to work schedules automatically; alerting management to work that has been missed or is late.  This “watchful eye” improves employee accountability and quality without undue discussion or conflict.

A simple performance tracking process with big benefits

What is needed to begin tracking?  The list is brief – you need equipment/location barcodes and a barcode scanner.  Of course, this presumes that you already have a CMMS that is capable of work performance tracking.  The scanner can be durable, small (1” x 2”), and cost about $110.

  1. Different shifts can share scanners to reduce up front hardware costs.
  2. Scanners can be live if scanning is performed via SmartPhones.
  3. Engineers don’t need to pay for login access unless they perform management functions, like work scheduling or employee management.
  4. Managers can receive automated alerts when schedule discrepancies are discovered.
  5. Your work performance information is available at anytime from anywhere you have an internet connection.  In essence, your staff stays connected and you stay informed.
  6. Different access levels can be granted to isolate what any login users see.
  7. Your client can stay in the loop automatically with summary reports of work performance.
  8. Managers get more control of your work process and service delivery.

What other tasks will the CMMS handle?

There functions that online maintenance tracking software can perform will vary.  However, almost every system has:

  1. Planned and On-Demand Work Scheduling
  2. Individual Employee Work Plans
  3. Automated Employee Dispatch and Notification
  4. Complete Equipment Histories, including Cost Factors
  5. Human Resources Suite for Improve Employee Management
  6. Quality Assurance
  7. Inventory Management

What other factors are important?

  1. Integration with Mobile Devices, such as Android or Apple SmartPhones and Tablets.
  2. Quick and simple implementation.
  3. Every level within the organization can perform their work without having to learn too much “tech”.
  4. Built in training videos to provide system support.
  5. Live technical support.
  6. Zero Footprint for secure locations.
  7. Zero systems maintenance costs (included).
  8. Zero system upgrade costs (included).

It is helpful to think of your CMMS as a tool, just like you have in your tool box.  If you had to loosen the bolts on a heat exchanger, you probably would prefer to have a wrench.  If you had to ensure work gets done on time and done properly every time, you would probably prefer a web based CMMS.

Can Purchasing a CMMS Save You Money?

The answer is “NO”.  Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) on its own cannot save you money, regardless of what anyone says.  The value of any tool is not which one you purchase, but how you intend to use it and getting people to use it the way you intend.

Don’t get me wrong, the key features of facility maintenance software are important, but even more important is the “usability” of the system for everyone on your staff.  Many people compare features and purchase a system within their budget that has the most “bells and whistles”.  This can be a counter-productive decision, since most of the features that look enticing can be too time consuming or difficult for average employees.

To get the most from your CMMS acquisition, you need to minimize waste in all of its forms.  Unfortunately, far too few companies focus intently on efficiency of the work processes while making a purchasing decision.

What to Consider When Buying a CMMS

There are basically three approaches to making good use of your CMMS:

  1. Choose a simple system has a pre-built work process with few selections, but the work process is as basic as practical.
  2. Choose a flexible system comes with multiple selectable work processes so you can choose the one that fits your team best.
  3. A third option is a hybrid of flexible and simple.  There are just a few systems that incorporate the best of both processes without significant compromises.

You might think from the description above that “choose door #3” is best, but the only right solution is the one everyone on your staff will use effectively.

Why Choose a Simple System?

If you don’t need to record the amount of time worked, the cost for performing service, or track billable work, then a simple system is probably the right fit.  Many people just want a simple schedule for Preventive Maintenance and the ability to manage any Service Requests they receive without much documentation.

If you are used to using spreadsheets and paper documents to perform work, then this might be the right type of system to consider.

What you get:  Low Implementation Cost, Low System Cost, Easy Training, Low Management Oversight, Low System Maintenance Cost, Low User Man Hours

What you give up:  Cost Control, Equipment Condition Details, Comprehensive Equipment History, Billable Work Tracking

Why Choose a Flexible System?

If you are managing a large facility, or a large group of buildings within a facility, then you probably want to track many aspects of any work that happens.  If strong cost control, comprehensive equipment history, and billing control are a top priority, then this may be the best choice.

What you get:  Full Cost Control, Comprehensive Equipment History, Custom Fit Work Process, Full Billable Work Tracking

What you give up:  $$$$ Implementation Cost, $$$$ System Cost, $$$$ Training Regiment, $$$ Management Oversight, $$$ System Maintenance Cost, $$$ User Man Hours

Why Choose a Hybrid System?

Most facilities fall in between simple and complex needs.  They want to have a blend of control, ease of use, and low cost.  If you are experienced with flexible systems, and find that they have more features than you can actually use, then a hybrid may be the best choice.

What you get:  Affordable Implementation Cost, Affordable System Cost, Moderate Training Regiment, Full Cost Control, Detailed Equipment History, Optimized Work Process, Full Billable Work Tracking

What you give up:  $$ Management Oversight, $$ System Maintenance Cost, $$ User Man Hours

Major Features of All CMMS Software

CMMS systems have four major functions to optimize work performance:

  1. Work Management:  Basically this covers preventive maintenance, which is a key to well balanced operation.  But it does not end there as it also contains employee scheduling.  Employee scheduling automates the whole process so that it makes it easy to adjust schedules.  This feature also has other functions including service request management, and employee work performance tracking.  For some organizations, this single feature is sufficient, but others require a little more.
  2. Quality Management:  Sometimes, it is not enough to monitor and automate work management, you need to evaluate performance to save money.  This might mean enforcing healthy work habits, but it also covers automatically scheduled corrective and preventive action planning.
  3. Employee Management:  Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, but if not managed well, they can waste a lot of money.  Tracking the training, work history, work performance, and attitude of your staff can increase accountability.
  4. Inventory Management:  Often this component is overlooked, but to avoid work delays and minimize downtime, effective inventory management is a core function of any facility.  Most systems can automate the budgeting, track the lead time of key parts, and also help you minimize waste with frequently consumed supplies.

Using each of these features effectively is essential to a successful organization.  Getting the most from your CMMS can be thought of as a systematic process with defined outcomes.

Maintenance Management Software and Your Business

Every business depends on systems to generate revenue and profit.  Larger companies generally have invested heavily in their systems to ensure they can compete.  However, every size business has the opportunity to use industry best practices through web based Maintenance Management Software.

Purchasing Software Will Not Make You Profit

Don’t get me wrong, there is value in just purchasing a good CMMS.  Some companies promote that they have great systems that are web based, real time, and cost effective.  They get sales.  They lose clients.  They don’t use the software they purchased.
The value of maintenance management software is not in the purchase or implementation, but in the daily use of the system to resolve issues and make your team more efficient.  Effectively using your chosen system is the key to reducing costs and increasing profits.

The way that maintenance, repairs, and service are managed within your business is a vital to your success.  Your CMMS is the framework to improve accountability by increasing visibility of your management and control of maintenance work processes.
Before making the decision to purchase maintenance management software for a business, it is wise to decide on the type of software package that will benefit the business and provide an excellent return on investment in the shortest amount of time. There are many different types of maintenance systems available and it is important to define the exact needs and requirements of a business to ensure that the best one is implemented.

The Value of Maintenance Management Software:

  1. Preventative Maintenance:  CMMS provides intuitive software that helps maintenance workers track small changes in building or manufacturing equipment that can indicate the need for proactive maintenance.  Routine maintenance ensures that parts or components are serviced and replaced before costly repairs become a problem.  You can also compare the cost of preventive efforts versus repairs needed to ensure your maintenance plan is working.  Minimizing costly repairs and possible down time is one of the most important features of this software.
  2. Asset Management:  You can actually maintain and track any asset your organization has purchased or rented.  This includes vehicles, computer systems, or even software.  You have likely made a large investment in infrastructure, and it can be costly to ignore preventive measures that will improve your business.  Maintenance management software provides vital information that helps key managers make sound financial decisions.  Your CMMS can be used for financial planning, service contracts, and warranties on all of your assets.
  3. Inventory Management:  Carrying the right level and type of supplies, parts, and tools keeps your maintenance staff efficient.  However, most organizations don’t adequately track consumption of these key materials.  Maintenance management software is very good at tracking and controlling these types of materials according to budget and specification.  Your CMMS is likely able to manage the ordering and purchasing of materials needed to keep the facility running effectively, without causing unnecessary carrying costs or running out of key materials.  Although each material may only represent a small opportunity for savings, when combining all of the materials and the turnover of inventory, it is much easier to see that not managing these factors can cost your business a lot of money.
  4. Work Schedule Management:  When most people think of maintenance management software, they think primarily of work scheduling.  This is a high value component of any system, and the more you use it, the more your organization will benefit.  Understanding the dynamic of your work flow to ensure consistent service can make the difference between average to poor value and great returns on investment.  Using your CMMS well to manage on-demand requests can save your organization thousands of dollars each year.  Integrating all of the other tools found in modern maintenance management software provides a powerful structure to optimize performance and minimize cost.

Remember that the key to getting a great ROI from your CMMS is using the features to their fullest within your business.  Almost any system will bring serious benefit when used correctly.  Your obligation as a manager is to choose the system that best fits the experience and capabilities of your staff.  Once that decision is verified, focus on utilization and the benefits you envision will become part of your normal business process.

How To Ensure CMMS Success

Implementing and effectively using a CMMS package demonstrates innovation.  The right Computer Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) is the best way to manage all aspects of facility services.  Your CMMS can provide a best practices framework to help your managers make better decisions today, and more profit tomorrow.

Once you have chosen the CMMS tool for your team, the next step is the implementation, which is possibly the most important step of all.  The way that your implementation is handled will be a key to the overall success of your project.  Many businesses underestimate the value of following a strict procedure during implementation and may not be getting the best return on investment as a result.

Steps to a successful CMMS implementation:

  1. Planning.  The planning stages of the process will directly affect the success of the implementation.  Ensure that your chosen software is going to match up to your best work methods.  The best time to make changes is before the implementation process begins.  If the planning stage is done with care and attention to detail, it will make the implementation and training process that much quicker, and the system will be able to go live in days or weeks, rather than months.
  2. Communication.  It is vital to communicate with the key employees who will need to implement the system.  They will be able to communicate in turn with the employees that work under them.  The entire system should have buy-in from top management down to the worker in your buildings.  All key managers and employees should be educated on the benefits of using your CMMS and the value that it will bring to your business.  It may even be beneficial to include some of the key personnel into the planning process form the very beginning.  They have detailed knowledge about their facilities and what is needed to be successful.
  3. Training.  If you are the pilot of a plane, but don’t know how to fly it properly, you will probably crash.  The value of training your staff to effectively use the chosen CMMS cannot be over emphasized.  It is vital to ensure that everyone who interacts with your new system gets the training they need before it goes live.  The business may even have to implement basic computer literacy classes to ensure that all employees are up to par and are able to use the system with ease.
  4. Support:  Employees will need product support, especially at the beginning of the implementation and in the first months of use.  It is always wise to have a dedicated team to provide support to prevent employees from going back to ‘doing it their way’ shortly after implementation.

It is important to remember that humans are notoriously resistant to change.  Implementing a CMMS package should be done with care.  Over time, employees will become comfortable with using your new system, and your begin discovering ways to make work even easier.