Workplace Technology Assessment
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By Aleks Sheynkman
Director of Engineering
All of the top computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) providers bring together features that save time and prevent human error. So how do you choose from all the options for maximizing profits?
You need to understand how systems differ in order to choose the best one for your individual needs and goals. That means understanding what applications are exceptional at automating tasks and utilizing data. Popular solutions have user-friendly interfaces and are reasonably simple to master, but it’s worth your time to compare options before you commit. The right platform will fit your industry and scale to the size of your company.
Here are the features to consider in the top CMMS applications:
Facility managers can’t expect to work efficiently when tied to their desks. That’s where mobile CMMS access comes in. The best CMMS systems offer the same functionality in a mobile app as a desktop version. Some basic monitoring systems send email or text notifications, but advanced CMMS software includes:
- Actionable alert notifications
- Wayfinding for specific equipment or employees
- Compatibility with tablets and phones in Android or iOS
- Offline access
- Messaging/chat capabilities
Optimized systems offer more than digital versions of analog tasks; they reimagine processes into streamlined workflows. Computerized systems exist to simplify tedious and data-driven tasks. But a digital system doesn’t automatically mean less work. For example, a calendar that offers recurring events and reminders is more reliable than a paper calendar. A truly intelligent CMMS mines specific kinds of information like dates, costs, or part numbers and integrates them into other processes:
- Automatic responses to security, hazard, and fire emergencies
- Work order processing
- Prepare and submit compliance reports
- Instant notification for meetings and events
- Service lifecycle calculations
- Intelligent inventory management
- Real estate planning
Cost management is an important duty, but it doesn’t have to take up a significant part of your time. The era of pouring over spreadsheets, manually creating each graph, and hoping you’ve selected good data is over. The best CMMS applications offer reports that are intuitive and easy to set up. Analytics compile objective information to generate actionable suggestions. Reporting features built with real users in mind make it easy to show others how well you’re managing company assets:
- Compliance statements by region
- Quality assurance statistics
- Return-on-investment (ROI) calculations
- Customizable dashboard interface
- Data-based suggestions
If you manage a specialized facility, look for software tailor-made for your industry. Some tools solve specific information needs like tracking emissions or preparing safety compliance reports. Others can communicate directly with instruments inside your equipment:
- Wireless links to equipment sensors
- Updates about regulatory changes
- Alarms for outages, changes in efficiency, hazards, etc.
- Access to frequently used information
Open application processing interfaces (APIs) enable limitless ways to connect information systems. Some configurations require IT for setup whereas other integrations come ready-made. Do your assets produce a specific kind of data? Look for applications that partner with your existing information streams to enable dynamic integrations:
- Data importing/exporting options
- Cloud-based files
- Office Internet of Things (IoT) data from equipment
- Social media profiles and messaging
- Company email, phone, calendars
Comparing CMMS Systems
The best choice for your individual needs depends on the characteristics of your network and the people using it. Here are some questions to answer before you start comparing CMMS systems:
- What are your reporting requirements? You might need more than summaries to make sanctioned decisions about when to call for repairs, which parts to replace, and when to decommission equipment. Bear in mind whether you report to regulatory bodies that require specific formats and/or to internal stakeholders with individual preferences.
- How many people need access? Some platforms base pricing on the number of individual logins; others are a flat cost. Labor costs for training and support influence the value of both flat and per-user licenses, so consider ease of use if you’re choosing a solution for a large user base.
- Does your network present any unique challenges? Check if there are any logistic or policy barriers to implementing new programs. Some aspects of your network, like a closed server or strict firewalls, may complicate mobile access or network information storage. Privacy regulations can limit data sharing.
As you compare CMMS options, look for a system that offers the access, automation, reporting, interoperability, and features that best fit your workplace and systems. Top CMMS providers can help take the tedious, manual tasks that consumer a facilities manager’s day and free up time to create and execute strategic workplace improvements.