Category Archives: Materials Management – Advice

Overcome Resistance to Change in the Maintenance Business – part 2

This is part 2.  So if you need to catch up, here is part 1.

Disruptive Change in Maintenance at Jeffboat

When implementing a maintenance management strategy, a critical component to most certainly deal with every time is the inevitable resistance to change.  Whether it is the introduction of new software or a complete overhaul of the maintenance function, the process of change usually represents the involvement of disruptive technology.  A “thought-path” of least resistance might tell us that most changes are really just improvements on something old and, thus, the old paradigms can be used as a starting point.  However, there are often changes that organizations need to make (whether they do or not is another story) that serve to disrupt the dominant paradigm, rather than sustaining it.  These types of shifts usually involve disruptive technologies and make the old things less important or obsolete.  The problem with these disruptive changes is that people will still attempt to apply the old paradigms to the new realities.  This is a mistake, which leads to resistance. When this mistake is being made, the person feeling feeling and thus spreading the resistance are, in a sense, trying to understand the car as nothing more than a carriage without horses.

History of Jeffboat

Jeffboat is a manufacturing company with a very long history.  Originally named the Howard Steamboat Company, Jeffboat is America’s largest inland ship builder and has been manufacturing ships for over 100 years.  This iconic shipbuilding business manufactured such famous ships as the Mississippi Queen, the General Jackson showboat and the Casino Aztar riverboat casino.

Like many old line manufacturers, Jeffboat has undergone a number of corporate/ownership changes.  Most recently, in 2010 the company was bought by Platinum Equity, which is a global acquisition firm.

As you can imagine, the Jeffboat yard is a large open space sprawling over one mile long, and loaded with manufacturing equipment and materials.  Typical for many old-line manufacturing firms, on the Jeffboat property, you can find manufacturing lines, made up of equipment and operated or maintained by employees who have been there for several decades.

Because of the size of the shipyard and age of the equipment, without much change over the years, Jeffboat’s maintenance process had been a reactive culture since as far back as anyone could remember.  There was no CMMS software in place and equipment was tracked using spreadsheets.  Because of this technology gap, it was often hit or miss as to whether the right parts were in the stores room.  So here was the first pocket of improvement opportunity.  With hundreds of repair jobs happening, and most of them starting with a maintenance technician struggling to find the correct parts for the targeted equipment, this was an obvious sink hole where labor time, and production time, drained over and over. There was also no Scheduler/Planner, and thus maintenance procedures, or instructions, were handled informally and based on need at that particular moment.

Disruptive Change

Because of a number of issues within Jeffboat that related to maintenance over the past few years, a decision was made by senior management to transform Jeffboat from a reactive-based maintenance department to a more preventive culture.  The following changes were planned:

  • Formalize all maintenance procedures through work orders
  • Institute a computerized CMMS program to issue and track work orders and measure inventory levels
  • Work together with Production in a new way as a partner instead of an annoyance
  • Move one of the technicians into the role of Maintenance Scheduler/Planner
  • Institute procedures and technology for materials management to allow for continuous tracking of equipment and manage parts in an efficient, time-sensitive manner
  • Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for all maintenance and production personnel with regards to equipment

All of these meant that disruptive change would have to take place both in the way people worked together but in many people’s jobs and in how things would be done.  However, recognizing the resistance that would occur, and having a plan to address that resistance was critical at this stage.  In other words, without shifting the mindset of the individuals affected and proactively creating ownership of the changes, all the improvements in technology and procedural changes would not be successful.  How do we address this resistance?  Can we proactively bring a wave of positive change through managing the mindset of a group to new, improved ideas and methods?

How to change mindset – moving from the horseless carriage to the car



Model for Sustainable Improvement

Common sense tells us that the first step for solving any problem is to analyze or assess.  This is no different for the model of sustainable improvement (above) needed to help achieve successful changes to improve Jeffboat maintenance.

Jeffboat brought in experts in maintenance process and maintenance change management, TRO Maintenance Solutions (TRO).  As the model (above) indicates, the foundation is analysis.  Richard Beer, representing TRO, conducted an assessment of the current overall maintenance process at Jeffboat.  This maintenance assessment served as the baseline analysis that would support any future initiative.  During the analysis stage, Richard Beer, having years of experience in maintenance best practices, identified and documented the main obstacles (already stated above) that were hurting the Jeffboat maintenance process.  TRO also recognized that, in order to be successful, the second part of this model was essential – the people most affected by the changes had to shift their thinking.  They needed to move from the ‘horseless carriage’ to the ‘car’, and take ownership of the changes.  It was from this analysis that Richard Beer created the strategy to implement change within the Jeffboat culture.  To help build that strategy, he brought in Mike Rosenberg, the developer of Flexible Thinker®.


  1. Give stakeholders the tools for change and have them develop ideas for implementing change through a 1 day workshop;
  2. Review the ideas with management and then take the team’s ideas and management input and work with all of the stakeholders to turn the ideas into key performance indicators (KPIs) for review by management;
  3. Take the KPIs and work with the stakeholders to turn them into internal service level agreements (SLAs) that clearly define the roles and deliverables that each person or group is responsible for in order to implement the ideas.
  4. Take the SLAs and create a series of standard operating procedures (SOPs) which would form the basis of the new maintenance handbook and create the infrastructure needed to implement the procedure and technology changes.

Flexible Thinker®

In order to accomplish the goal of paradigm shift, TRO used the Flexible Thinker® learning program to help institute the change. The purpose of this approach was to achieve the following:

  • Create a paradigm shift about how people view both the issues they are facing and their jobs
  • Use language to create a culture where ideas flow and people are held accountable for helping to create solutions instead of act as an obstacle to them
  • Push people out of their comfort zone and expand their thinking
  • Create the ‘ahas’ that are necessary for sustainable change
  • Turn ideas into action by creating ‘quick hits’ or successes for people to buy-in to the changes and incorporate the learning into their daily work lives

Key Measurement Opportunities – Is this project showing signs of success?

The ultimate goal of both the Flexible Thinker® program and the sustainable change model is to create the ownership and paradigm shift that is necessary to uphold implementation of new initiatives.  This was measured by the following milestones:

  • Once the SLAs were completed, was their going to be resistance to signing the agreements and/or execution of the agreements?
  • Would people perform well in their new positions or change the way they were working in their current positions to help execute the SLAs and achieve the KPIs?
  • The KPIs were the ultimate goal of the entire program.  Was the maintenance department moving toward hitting the KPIs?

Implementing the learning strategy

An important element of creating sustainable change is to allow stakeholders to both learn and apply new knowledge and practices into the workplace.  Using a blended learning approach that utilized both formal (classroom) and informal (coaching and mentoring) learning modalities.  The role of the consultants was both to facilitate creation of the infrastructure that would allow for change, including creation of documentation and providing onsite support for coaching and mentoring as well as helping implement the changes.  Instead of executing the changes themselves, TRO acted more as a facilitator and allowed the stakeholders opportunities to implement the changes themselves.  By providing the coaching and follow up necessary, the structural changes needed to be made were implemented by the people who would have to “live” with them.

Flexible Thinker® tools in the workplace

During the course of the consulting, the consultants asked stakeholders if they had applied the Flexible Thinker® tools in their work environment.  One stakeholder indicated that he was using the ‘clap focus’ game as a way to get his team engaged at the beginning of the shift and then was utilizing it to get them to ‘move faster’ during the day.  Another stakeholder indicated that he had taught his kids to ‘orange’ it and was using it with his guys when they came to him with a problem to engage them to help create solutions.  It was through this anecdotal evidence that we were able to see that the training was having the desired effect.

Lessons learned

In implementing the model, there were a number of lessons learned.

The Innovative Change/Ownership stage is critical to support implementation of any change

Most organizations try to skip this part of the model and move directly from analysis to implementation.  Usually this is done either totally by external consultants or through directives of senior management.  The problem with this approach is that the people actually responsible for implementation often times either do not understand the reason for the change, buy-in to the change or feel that the change is a direct threat to them and their job.  What happens in these conditions is that the implementation is either undermined or people simply wait until the next ‘flavor of the month’ is over so they can return to doing things the way they used to do them.  This means that the changes that are necessary to become more productive are undermined at the lower levels of the organization and the implementation eventually fails.

Senior management must buy-in on the changes and the model

Senior management must buy into both the changes that are taking place and the process of allowing the stakeholders to drive the process of change.  Jeffboat provided excellent senior management support and leadership.  Because of that leadership, the stakeholders felt that they owned the changes and supported the execution of the ideas.  At every step, senior management was part of the process and reviewed the ideas created.  If they did not approve of them, a reason was given and brought back to the stakeholders with the necessary justification about why the idea could not be implemented.  This allowed for continuous communication between front-line staff and senior management and a sense of collaboration.  If senior management had undermined the process by imposing their ideas arbitrarily without explanation over the ideas generated by the stakeholders, the entire process would have been subverted because lower-level staff would feel that it was all a waste of their time and morale and productivity would have suffered significantly.

In addition, it is important for senior management to understand that there is always lower productivity in change.  This is best demonstrated by the Satir model for change:

With any change, there is resistance and then chaos which creates lower productivity.  It only as people start to work through the changes that performance rises above the status quo before plateauing.  All change takes time and there is now shortcut.  It is essential that during that time of lower productivity, senior management does not undermine the process to go back to the old status quo.  They must provide stakeholders with support to work through the changes, learn them and incorporate them into their daily routine in order to achieve a higher level of performance in the long-term.  It needs to be understood by senior management that people will want to revert to ‘what they know’ as growth is created by confusion.  There will be times when people revert to old habits and they need to be coached and rewarded for implementing new changes that lead to long-term gain for the organization.

Coaching is essential

As discussed earlier, with change come resistance and chaos which can easily lead to frustration.  The fact is the very essence of change is to take people out of their comfort zones.  Coaching sessions are essential in helping people to work through the changes and shorten the learning curve which in turns saves the organization money.  By providing coaching, people can work through their issues until they are comfortable enough to take over the new roles and responsibilities that come with implementation of the change.

Clarity and specifics on expectations and measurement create empowerment

It is important to take the ideas and measurements and create very specific SMART plans and SLAs that detail what are the expectations and measurements of each area/person.  By having a say in the creation of the document (see Lessons Learned a), people need to know what they are expected to do and the signposts that outline how they will know if they are moving toward success.  By having input in the SLAs/SMART plan process, all stakeholders now have a clear idea what is expected of them and an objective measurement of how they are doing so that they can execute the plans.  This allows each stakeholder to become empowered to help meet the goals and measurements laid out in the agreements.

Nothing is written in stone – set up review dates

Change is now the norm.  The idea of any agreement is that it will be reviewed and updated based on a number of factors – new technology, kinks that develop on the way and change in corporate direction.  It should be emphasized that nothing that is created within the new initiative is written in stone and that changes will be made to deal with new situations that arise.  This also gives people the opportunity feel more at ease about the agreements as they will be periodically reviewed.  As part of this, it should be put directly into the SLA/SMART plan a review date where the documents and processes will be reviewed to determine what changes (if any) need to be made.


A number of changes have happened at Jeffboat.  Maintenance is being scheduled more regularly and there has started to be a shift from a ‘reactive’ maintenance culture to a more preventative one.  There is a clearer understanding of roles and responsibilities for both maintenance and production which has led to a more collaborative relationship with regards to maintenance.  Everything now has a work order attached and there has been a significant mindset shift in stores as people can no longer just try to ‘find’ the parts they need and all materials have work orders attached so that proper inventory levels are maintained and there is a significantly shorter lead time required to get the rights parts.

There is a now a more comprehensive maintenance strategy in place with ownership of the process by both maintenance and production supervisors and managers who created the change themselves.

The collaboration between maintenance and production has led to a comprehensive maintenance handbook and SOPs which means that overall the maintenance at Jeffboat has made significant and measurable strides forward and has become significantly more productive and preventative instead of reactive which means greater profitability for the company as equipment downtime decreases.

All change is ongoing and Jeffboat has begun to lay the foundation to move it towards the elusive goal of excellence as it introduces new software and continues to refine it process and procedures.

This quote from Terry Wireman best sums up the new attitude that is developing at Jeffboat:

Yesterday’s excellence is today’s standard and tomorrow’s mediocrity.

Resistance to CHANGE in the maintenance business – part 1

This is a two part success story about how an iconic American ship builder chose to take the courageous step into CHANGE.  This first part lays the foundation of why a ship builder would need to change, plus gives insight into the challenges associated with such a decision.  Part two will give more details on that change process experienced by the ship builder, and help relate their success to how other maintenance or engineering professionals can achieve the same success.

But first the ship building icon…

After many years in business, the maintenance management team realized they needed to change.  Why?  Because, although the ships were still being built as strong and true as ever, the maintenance process they were using to maintain the manufacturing infrastructure was sinking, so to speak.

Fast forward to the current day, and we know now that all it took for this to be a success story was some flexible thinking among it’s dedicated staff, and a little help from their friends at TRO Maintenance Solutions.

So why does it take so much courage to commit to change?  Well the answer is simple.  All of us have tried change something in the past.  Usually the first thing we encounter is resistance.  Whether that resistance comes from within us, or around us, it is the number one killer of change.

When implementing a maintenance management strategy, a critical component to most certainly deal with every time is the inevitable resistance to change.  Whether it is the introduction of new software or a complete overhaul of the maintenance function, the process of change usually represents the involvement of disruptive technology.  A “thought-path” of least resistance might tell us that most changes are really just improvements on something old and, thus, the old paradigms can be used as a starting point.  However, there are often changes that organizations need to make (whether they do or not is another story) that serve to disrupt the dominant paradigm, rather than sustaining it.  These types of shifts usually involve disruptive technologies and make the old things less important or obsolete.  The problem with these disruptive changes is that people will still attempt to apply the old paradigms to the new realities.  This is a mistake, which leads to resistance. When this mistake is being made, the person feeling feeling and thus spreading the resistance are, in a sense, trying to understand the car as nothing more than a carriage without horses.

In part 2 of this story, we will learn how the following elements played out at the ship building business in manner that resulted in a very successful change for the better:

  • Disruptive Change
  • How to change mindset – moving from the horseless carriage to the car
    • Model for Sustainable Improvement
  • Using the Flexible Thinker®
  • Implementing the learning strategy
  • Lessons learned

The Future of CMMS and Virtual Reality

Virtual reality and CMMS

If you are like me, you have been awaiting the rise of virtual reality (or VR) for a very long time. Thanks to recent advances in technologies such as 360-degree photography, the long wait is finally over and we can now leave our old humdrum, boring world in the dust as we dive head-first into digital realms unknown! But not all is fun and games when it comes to VR. In fact, the technology serves many purposes outside of entertainment. One area is in the workplace, which begs the question, how will future computer maintenance management systems (CMMS) adapt to this new tool?

Virtual reality and the reliability industry, believe it or not, are a perfect match for one another. If you own a pair of VR goggles, such as the ones offered by Samsung or even the cardboard offerings from Google, then you know that the possibilities are nearly limitless. And while there may not be thousands of apps for these devices yet, with the pending launch of Sony’s virtual reality system for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Neo, you can expect a huge explosion in the marketplace.

One cool feature that VR can bring to an industrial or warehouse setting is interactive education. Already, there are software programs that allow you to practice certain skill sets, such as public speaking (I highly recommend this particular option, by the way, especially for managers or management hopefuls) and even surgery, though hopefully any doctor you encounter has worked on real-life humans as well!

Picture a piece of maintenance management software that allowed you to do something as simple as read a digital training manual or, better yet, let you practice performing maintenance on a virtual copy of a machine. Imagine the time and money that would save when training employees, especially if the equipment you needed to train on was in a far-away location.

Now, take that a step further. Perhaps a machine breaks down and you can’t quite figure out how to replace a part; the manuals are full of heavy techno-jargon and are poorly written, offering no clear instructions on how to fix the machine. Enter virtual reality. Pop on your headset and get a tour of the machine from the inside out, click on the spare part you need to replace, and then watch a video of it being replaced. What could be easier?

Another great tool that VR can bring to the reliability industry is document storage. Just like regular CMMSes today, a VR CMMS could hold all of your important documents, which you could flip through as though you had them right in front of you. And if you have a portable VR system, all the better!

Add to the list the possibility of remote workshops, conferences, live customer support, and virtual stores that you could browse as though you were there in person and you can easily see how virtual reality (and augmented reality as well) are set to be a major part of our industry in the not-too-distant future.

Now, if only they could make those VR goggles look a little less nerdy …

8 Tips for Reducing the Cost of Assets

Tips for Reducing the Cost of Assets

In any asset-intensive business, it’s crucial to take the best care of assets as possible. It’s also vital to avoid downtime, which can have a significant impact on your company’s bottom line. The following initiatives can help your organization improve asset utilization rates  and operational performance while reducing long-term capital costs.

  1. Purchase EAM software. If you are not already using EAM software in your organization, it is worthwhile to consider. Enterprise asset management software automatically reminds maintenance technicians of maintenance needs and helps them follow best maintenance practices.
  2. Standardize routine maintenance tasks. Many assets fail before their lifespan should be over due to a pattern of poor maintenance, resulting in preventable major repairs or fatal failures. Following a standardized preventive maintenance program will extend the life of your assets and save money.
  3. Warranty recovery. Tracking asset warranty information with EAM software can help you process warranty claims and recover the cost of repairs.
  4. Consider eliminating redundant equipment. Redundant equipment costs money to maintain and depreciates, so it may be more cost effective to maximize the use of a single piece of equipment instead of running two at half-capacity.
  5. Capture as much data as possible. If you are already using EAM software, maximize its use by capturing as many data points as possible about all your assets. This will give you the freedom to run more detailed analyses to inform future business decisions.
  6. Keep aging assets running. Keeping aging assets running for as long as possible is key to the financial performance of any organization. Regularly planned maintenance is crucial to keeping assets online.
  7. Analyze key performance indicators and make the necessary adjustments. You can improve your operations by analyzing equipment breakdown data, maintenance costs, work order backlog, equipment downtime, etc. An analytics dashboard will enable you to quickly evaluate key performance indicators and identify opportunities to lower asset costs.
  8. Effectively track and control spare parts. Effective tracking and controlling equipment can help you increase your profitability by ensuring that you don’t order duplicate or excess parts. Reducing spare part inventory levels will enable you to cut costs, and by securing parts just in time, you can prevent costly downtime.

DPSI’s iMaint EAM software provides you with the information and tools you need to maximize the performance of your assets, control maintenance costs, and improve your operations. DPSI has been in business since 1986 and has over 50,000 satisfied users in 50 countries around the world.  Contact DPSI for more information, or sign up for a free trial.

How To Achieve Inventory Process Reliability

As companies seek to achieve world-class maintenance reliability, many are discovering that the weak link in the chain is a lack of inventory process reliability.  Maintenance reliability too often suffers for the lack or misplacement of parts, and automated processes can only do so much without the support of your maintenance team.

During this recorded webinar, Dan Floen, President of PM2, presents the foundational elements of a self-directed, high-performance work team.  Ultimately, inventory process reliability rests in the hands of a fully-committed team that understands the connection between consistent labor performance and the overall success of your organization.
The insights offered will help illustrate the importance of ongoing inventory reliability. As key takeaways from the webinar, you will be provided with:

-Methods and industry best practices for improving inventory control
-Ways to engage your maintenance team toward better inventory procedures

Not Just for Maintenance: How CMMS Benefits Other Functions, Part I

It’s true that CMMS is typically designed for maintenance operations. With the advancement of cloud-based CMMS/EAM today, however, well-designed platforms have become an essential system for other departments within, and outside of, the organization. A Spend Matters interview with Michael Croasdale, senior project manager at Source One Management Services, relays that MRO service providers should be lock-step in line with client companies, to the degree that they’re sharing “specific data to benchmark pricing, [ensuring] service levels exceed industry standard and [helping] to institute industry best practices.” One way to maintain this alignment, of course, is through supplier access to the client’s CMMS. Internally, functions such as Human Resources, EH&S, QA/QC, Engineering, Operations, Supply Chain, and Finance also stand to benefit from regular usage of CMMS. As Part I of this series, we’ll look at how Engineering and Quality can experience improvements in their respective business processes through their CMMS roles and maintenance collaboration.

The Scenario

Let’s set the scene: while performing calibrations recently, your Quality Manager found unsatisfactory deviations in feed rates from a volumetric feeder, according to the Asset Trend Analysis generated by your CMMS. An automatic e-mail notification is generated by the CMMS, based on the equipment’s condition, to an Engineer to troubleshoot the issue.

The Action

volumetric feeder

By including your Quality and Engineering teams as roles within your CMMS, QA can automatically monitor and trend equipment data while Engineering can define the PMs to address deviations.

Your Engineer then creates a PM work order, defining the appropriate tasks or steps in the correct order and references the necessary documentation, associating parts, estimated hours, and assigning the PM based on skill qualification. She checks the PM procedures against Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), but finds a PM task is incorrect when returning the equipment back to service, however. The PM procedure is then revised with added verification steps, including a series of work order status approvals, and uploaded “visual aids” when setting load cells.

The assigned PM work order is routed through your Maintenance Planner for actual Technician assignment, which is confirmed after checking your CMMS’ PM Planner to avoid scheduling conflicts and unnecessary overtime. The assigned Tech receives an automatic e-mail notification of the PM work order, and also sees the new PM listed on his CMMS Dashboard. He performs the work as requested, following the outlined steps, and indicates the material used and records his labor through the CMMS’ mobile app labor timer on his iPhone. The Tech adds a few comments about the feeder and his signature to complete the work order.

The Resolution

Your Maintenance Supervisor receives an automatic e-mail notifying her of the completed work order, which requires her signature approval. After reviewing the work, the Supervisor is satisfied and signs off on the work order. The Quality Manager receives notification of this approved, completed work order via an automatic e-mail. He can go about other tasks, as he knows that the feeder issue has been addressed successfully.

The Catch

But what if your Maintenance Supervisor isn’t satisfied with the Tech’s work or the current status of the feeder? She can reject the work order, re-routing it back to the Maintenance Planner and the Tech. The work order can be re-opened for continued work by the same Tech or re-assigned by the Planner as needed.

This is just one sample CMMS business process workflow out of many different variations that may include multi-layered approval processes, routing, and notification setups. But by incorporating your Quality and Engineering teams into an advanced CMMS, you can enable better communication, increased productivity, and improved efficiency across your enterprise.

Determining CMMS Outcomes With Simple Cost Benefit Analysis


A positive return on investment (or ROI) is an important metric to prove before making a business investment decision. In most situations, ROI is calculated in the context of marketing and sales investments to expand an organization’s awareness or client base. Along with being one of the most important metrics from which to base decisions on, it can also be one of the most difficult metrics to calculate, especially when it comes to CMMS systems.

Let’s look at the ROI formula:  CMMS ROI = (Value – Cost) / Cost

Seems simple right? Guess again. Determining the “value” variable of a CMMS is a complex task and becomes increasingly more difficult the larger your operations are. Because value is found within the areas of cost saving, facility managers look to maintenance data, such as:

  • Asset and Equipment Life,
  • Reduced Downtime,
  • Parts and Inventory,
  • Increased Productivity, and

The irony here is that the value metrics needed to move forward with CMMS buying decisions are the same metrics generated by a software system of this nature. As facility managers find themselves in a chicken vs egg scenario, projects are halted before they even begin.

So how do we make the case for investing in software when we can’t find its ROI? The answer lies in the calculation of another business metric- cost benefit analysis.

A cost benefit analysis assesses the trade-off between a project’s proposed benefits and its costs. If the benefits seem to outweigh the costs, then a business can reasonably move forward with such a project. If the organization finds it would have a negative impact on the department, then it may want to reassess the reasons they pursued CMMS implementation in the first place. Either way, determining the benefits of CMMS is much easier than quantifying a dollar amount for its value as you would when calculating ROI.

As the name suggests, a CMMS cost benefit analysis is comprised of two variables, cost and benefit. Both variables however are determined by several factors, each of which we will examine in closer detail.


We suggest making a list of all the benefits a CMMS offers your organization, both tangible- you can apply a monetary value to it, and intangible- intrinsic benefits that may be harder to quantify.

Tangible Benefits

  • Extend the life of assets and equipment

A wealth of research suggests that implementing a formal preventive maintenance system extends the life of assets. One report confirms that without a PM program the expected useful life (EUL) of a manufacturer’s assets would decrease by 10-90% depending on the specific asset. A common statistic used by CMMS industry research states the average increase in an asset’s life expectancy is 20% when preventive maintenance is regularly applied. A similar approach to quantifying your organization’s PM implementation can be taken by tracking a small sampling of critical equipment/ assets and measuring its estimated breakdown period with and without PM in place. You can also speak with the asset’s manufacturer to better understand its EUL and how preventive maintenance can help.

  • Reduced downtime

It is easy to make the case for preventive maintenance by looking at the effect it has on reducing equipment downtime. This is an important and quantifiable metric as scheduling maintenance procedures instead of waiting for assets to breakdown without warning significantly increases the asset’s uptime. If your equipment suddenly requires un-scheduled repair, your organization’s overall productivity slows which has huge implications on your bottom line.

  • Eliminate manual processes

One of the greatest benefits that a CMMS system provides its users with is extensive automation, and a CMMS’ preventive maintenance module is no exception. Work orders automatically generate on a given frequency and are pre-assigned to a specific technician for completion. Further, e-mail notifications are sent in advance, both when work is due and to communicate any past due projects. For managers, reports are automatically emailed on a given frequency, eliminating the need to manually gather data and create weekly, monthly, or quarterly reports. Maintenance software systems also include work order templates for equipment models. This allows users to easily create new PMs for units with existing model types, saving the user time and ensuring all PMs are standardized. Some systems can also be set up to order parts when minimum quantity thresholds have been met. Having this level of automation frees up maintenance worker’s time to focus on maintaining facilities and equipment.

  • Reduce maintenance costs

If you don’t have a formal preventive maintenance system in place, your technicians are waiting for equipment to break down and then reacting. This is very costly in many ways. Firstly, corrective maintenance is more costly than planned preventive maintenance. In one scenario an air compressor’s repair costs were compared to its preventive maintenance.  It found that with a PM program the compressor would have to be fixed once every 4 years translating to a cost of $236/ yr. With preventive maintenance, the same compressor would need to be fixed in three years at a cost of $315/ yr. Although a $79 difference may not seem significant at first, consider the implications of servicing dozens of air compressors, handlers, and HVAC systems across multiple facilities year after year. $79 quickly adds up to tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance repair across your entire operations.

  • Increase worker productivity

In addition to maintenance repair cost savings, a PM system will make your maintenance team more productive. By planning maintenance on a set schedule, your team is better utilized within their work hours. Projects don’t spill into overtime as all jobs are carefully planned and coordinated to fit within the timeframe of a normal 8 hour workday. The result is lower labor costs and a better work/life balance for staff. These small adjustments are easily made via nimble calendar and scheduling tools within the system. CMMS software makes it easy to pull up staff schedules and make adjustments.

All productivity info is easily tracked and monitored through a CMMS system. Due dates and estimated completion times can be assigned to work orders and reports are then generated to show a performance breakdown of the maintenance team.

  • Create a paperless environment

Paper-based maintenance activities may satisfy the immediate requirements but it makes record keeping a nightmare. With CMMS software, the maintenance department moves away from work orders and task lists on paper and towards automated processes. Keeping data in a centralized location allows it to continuously be tracked and measured, whereas manual methods don’t allow for efficient data collection let alone in-depth analysis for reporting. Managers then find themselves spending precious work hours combing through paper to find reporting data or hand written work orders to view an asset’s maintenance history. As CMMS systems become more user-friendly and affordable- initial barriers for many organizations in the past- businesses are more and more willing to move away from archaic paper-based systems.

  • Make data-driven decisions

CMMS software allows maintenance managers and supervisors to access data quickly and make informed decisions based on in-depth reporting. If you have hundreds of work orders and purchases being processed monthly, managers need to make sense of equipment records to gage its performance. Maintenance management systems are equipped with metrics and KPIs that managers use to monitor their departments and make informed decisions to improve processes. Without metrics, managers are working off intuition and their gut feeling….which shall we say can be less than accurate.

Intangible Benefits

  • Increased visibility and transparency

Often overlooked as a CMMS benefit is the transparency that it brings to departments. There is nothing worse than a supervisor grilling the team on how performance needs to be improved without data to support it. Maintenance management systems allow managers and staff to agree on expectations and monitor performance to adjust their methods. Measuring and tracking of data is standard across the entire maintenance operation to instill an environment of fairness and provide the manager with solid data to back up their evaluations.

  • Improved customer satisfaction

Although it may be difficult to calculate the extent to which CMMS software affects customer satisfaction, one can ascertain that CMMS plays its part. One of those indications is shown through a system’s PM program. As indicated above, preventive maintenance helps to decrease downtime on assets to increase overall productivity. Customers are satisfied when their orders are shipped on time and correctly, aspects that wouldn’t always be possible without the help of automated processes.

  • Improved employee moral

Put simply, an empowered employee is happier and more productive. CMMS systems provide simple tools for maintenance staff to do their jobs better and faster. When management purchases systems with their staff in mind it sends a huge message that they are valued and have ownership over their own tasks. As ownership and autonomy increase, employees become more motivated and perform more efficiently which in turn has significant productivity benefits and increases the bottom line. Read more about how employee motivation affects productivity here. Additionally, investing in a CMMS signals to employees that management is taking steps to streamline processes that may have been outdated or unintuitive. Managers who seek to foster a culture of continuous improvement are seen as positive leaders and role models to their employees.


Now that we have a list of CMMS benefits, we need to look at the costs. When it comes to costs associated with CMMS, you need to consider both direct and indirect costs. For the purpose of this analysis we will only consider web-based CMMS software.

Direct Costs

  • Software license fees

Software license fees are either paid annually for a small discount or month-to-month to mitigate perceived buyer risk. Despite the pay period, these fees are ongoing and allow the buyer to act as a software leaser. Software license fees vary from vendor to vendor depending on their features and price structure. Although vendors commonly charge a per user license fee, others offer a more creative pricing structure such as charging per facility or building. For more information on how to research the best CMMS for your business, read our post here. Once you have a few vendors in mind, plug in their applicable license fee to your cost/ benefit analysis.

  • Set up fees

Usually, but not always, there are some set up costs associated with implementing a CMMS system. These costs vary depending on the vendor and the level of services required. At Hippo CMMS, 10% of our clients have our engineers come on-site, audit all equipment, and handle data integration from start to finish; 75% deliver data sheets for Hippo integration specialists to validate and import; and 15% take the DIY approach. Site audits obviously involve higher set up costs than providing data sheets to be imported. For more information on how to choose the right setup type for your organization, read our post here and here.

  • Training and technical support fees

It’s a good idea to pad your CMMS budget with enough room to accommodate potential training and technical support fees. One of the most frequently cited reasons for CMMS implementation failures is lack of training and support from the vendor. Personalized training sessions are the best way to properly understand various features that a CMMS has to offer and can be catered to each of your users for relevancy. The good news is that many vendors now offer free training and tech support for a period or bundle these services into the license fee. More and more vendors are starting to understand the importance of offering this vital service, so make sure to look for it during your research phase. At Hippo CMMS we offer initial training and on-going technical support at no charge.

Indirect Costs

The costs associated with changing processes and onboarding staff when implementing CMMS software is often overlooked and difficult to estimate. There is no real way to accurately quantify this number, but it’s important that you dedicate time towards this process. Onboarding will involve several rounds of training sessions with all users over the course of a few months to a year depending on the size of your maintenance team, the extent of advanced features that you want to use, and how drastic a change an automated CMMS will be from your current operations. If you have a team of 40 maintenance staff who have never used a CMMS system, you may find more resistance and a steeper learning curve. Carve out adequate time to integrate a CMMS into your operations and make sure to get feedback from your team every step of the way. For more tips to optimize your training sessions and ensure proper CMMS implementation, read our post here.

There is no question that CMMS software provides value to its users. After all, why else would more and more companies jump on board and pay for a new automated process? The key is to ensure that a CMMS would provide your organization with enough benefit to outweigh its overall costs of time and money. In terms of identifying the costs, concentrate on the dollar value of license fees, setup costs, and administrative man-hours that will be used to help implement the system. For benefits, determine the cost of machine downtime and the importance of increasing the longevity of your assets. A solid system also helps to save organizations both time and money by streamlining processes and reducing the need to sort through paper-based work orders or gather data. Once you’ve determined a CMMS’ cost and benefit, make sure you come out with a positive result. Although this method may not be as accurate as an ROI, it’s sure to give your decision makers the information they need to make a more informed choice.

Cloud-Based Asset Management Tracks Activity Across Hundreds of Small Outlets

When you operate more than nine million square feet (840,000 square meters) of retail space across more than 1,100 small points of sale, facilities maintenance can become very challenging, very fast.

It isn’t that any of the properties requires daily maintenance—and that’s the problem. None of the spaces needs enough time or attention to justify the daily presence of an internal maintenance specialist. But they still need to be managed and maintained at a level that will impress and delight customers—in this case, the more than 13 million shoppers who buy more than 115 million clothing items per year from Gruppo Coin, Italy’s leading fast-fashion business.

“With all those points of sale, there are a lot of assets to manage, including electrical and air conditioning plants; smoke detection, fire safety, and alarm systems; public address and sound systems; hoisting systems; and the hardware for its data transmission systems,” Infor notes in a case study on Gruppo Coin’s Enterprise Asset Management strategy. Weekly, bimonthly, and monthly maintenance requires strict scheduling, but the system also has to be flexible enough to accommodate unexpected alarms or maintenance requests.

The Way It Was
Gruppo Coin manages its equipment and facility maintenance through Service Level Agreements (SLAs) with 20 different external providers. In the past, a 20-member technical team monitored maintenance activities, while the outside vendors “relied on Excel spreadsheets and Word files sent by email, text messages, and telephone calls to manage both planned and extraordinary maintenance activities,” Infor reports.

“These were absolutely insufficient tools for guaranteeing that our technical services provided suitable and effective monitoring and control over maintenance services,” said Gruppo Coin’s Manager of Technical Services, Andrea Scussel.

“This lack of specialized tools made it impossible to precisely check and analyze compliance by our external suppliers with the services stipulated in the SLA contracts,” he recalled. So “it was also impossible to keep track of actual costs and overall efficiency of the services.”

Moving Enterprise Asset Management to the Cloud
Gruppo Coin set out to reorganize its maintenance system around three key objectives.

The company wanted a database of its physical assets.

It sought an information management platform that could deliver a clear picture of all its facilities’ current status, as a basis for managing supplier relationships and ensuring SLA contract compliance.

And it was concerned about cost control, particularly for unplanned service calls generated by individual sites.

After a two-month search, Gruppo Coin placed its confidence in Infor Enterprise Asset Management (EAM). “It seemed clear to us that this company was particularly active, receptive, and flexible concerning our specific requirements,” Scussel said. And EAM delivered, with a cloud-based system that:

  • Gives store managers an up-to-date view of all their assets, including upcoming maintenance calls and resulting costs and material use
  • Provides a “virtual bulletin board” for scheduling, prioritizing, and monitoring specific tasks
  • Allows the company to benchmark and standardize practices across an extended network of small to medium-sized stores
  • Will allow for historical analysis as more data is added to the system, enabling the company to streamline maintenance procedures and optimize costs.

The ‘Irreplaceable Control Tool’
Gruppo Coin is still working to extend the EAM system to all its assets. But there’s no question that Scussel is satisfied with his IT solution and pleased with Infor.

“The application has kept all of its promises,” he said. “It has become an irreplaceable control tool and an important benchmark for the company. Infor knew how to listen to our needs, and supported the creation of a work group that was aimed specifically at meeting our demands and translating them into the best solutions.”

Click here for a copy of Infor’s Gruppo Coin case study.

Why is Preventive Maintenance So Important?

Is it Preventative or Preventive Maintenance? No matter how you say it either one it is essential to a Facility Manager and all the assets associated with the facility. This action is for the sole purpose of maintaining equipment and facilities in an optimal condition by using inspection, detection and corrective maintenance before any issues arise from normal wear and tear. The maintaining of the equipment provides an extended life to the equipment as well as preserves the top dollar value of the facility.

Preventive Maintenance is a process that needs a strategy and a system in order to be effective. Through Preventative Maintenance one can increase the equipment reliability and the wellness of the facility overall.  The Facility Managers can utilize a CMMS which will allow for full team participation,  a generation of reminders and work orders, tracking of any maintenance costs coinciding with corrective costs and the capability to work efficiently and save  time and money.

The Modern Way to Preventive Maintenance

With Preventive Maintenance Facility Managers are able to continually track costs, monitor equipment warranty dates, proactive replacements, and schedule manufacturer upgrades in order to provide better performance.  Imagine eliminating archaic asset tracking methods and using a system that can hold, manage, track, and remind you of the upcoming preventive maintenance schedules. Instead of finding out the hard way when assets fail, you need systems in place to tell you when, where, why, and on what asset to perform the preventive scheduled maintenance tasks. You no longer have to rely on someone’s memory, a stack of post-it notes, paper files, or emails to remind you when to schedule preventive maintenance. Asset tracking software will tell you when preventive maintenance is overdue so that you can take action. You will be collecting invaluable data regarding past maintenance and future maintenance, which will impact your ability to plan and manage future events

For example using a NetFacilities CMMS in Schools (K-12 & Specialty Schools), Universities, and Colleges, Facility Managers can manage hundreds, if not thousands, of assets, requests, and tasks each day. The maintenance department responsible for so much work needs a better way to stay on task, connect with management, and get things done (efficiently) across multiple locations. Managing the many assets (air conditioners, boilers, HVAC systems, computers, etc.) at each location involves many mission-critical tasks in the form of preventive maintenance, impulsive work orders, and inspections.

Obviously nobody can predict the future, but with the ability to generate customized schedules and reports as well as Work Orders which can be grouped by location and user notification the Facility Manager can foresee an increase in productivity and equipment life.

Why Your Maintenance Management Needs a Mobile App

Mobile has surged as our channel of choice—and apps our new currency.

Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends report illustrates a few ways the workforce is getting more tech-savvy with mobile:

  • We’re using personal devices for work: 45% of millennials and 18% of older generations.
  • We’re likely to download applications for work: 41% millennials and 24% older generations.
  • Connectivity is up 830%+ since 1995 (from 9% to 84%).

And connectivity via mobile devices is up 255%+ since 2009 (from 18% to 64%).

In the U.S., we’re spending an average of 151 minutes looking at our smartphone screen. Any time we want a status update or notification, we check our phone. Last year, we checked them an average of 85 times a day! It’s an obvious and preferred mode of connection, research and productivity. So why do so many maintenance organizations and maintenance managers fall back to Excel, printouts, or handwritten notes when there’s likely an app for that?

For maintenance managers and planners specifically, it’s essential to know the current status of all jobs in the backlog. This type of data (and more) has traditionally been stored in a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Now, all of that valuable information is available in the pockets of maintenance planners and technicians alike, with mobile CMMS applications. As CMMS goes mobile, keeping a pulse on your organization’s truly current job status is possible. Mobile CMMS brings opportunities for better, real-time insights; improved department-wide productivity; and a connected on-the-go workforce.

3 Reasons to Take Your CMMS Mobile

Companies that integrate mobile for CMMS surge ahead of the competition, and future-proof facility operations. They save time, have better access to information, leave a kinder environmental footprint—and at the end of the day, are more productive because of it.

1. Save time. When it comes to building a world-class organization, uptime is a top priority. Think in terms of operations and employees—and making the most of each moment.

With mobile, managers and techs spend less time receiving instructions, gathering tools or materials, traveling to and from the site, etc., and more time completing maintenance tasks. How does mobile make a difference? Techs now have in-app access to mobile work order signatures, can log wrench time with a stop-start timer, and can upload images or video using the device’s camera. Technicians can receive alerts about new work assignments instantly, and work requesters can obtain minute-by-minute status updates.

2. Gain insights, access to critical information. From on-the-go techs to management, one of the biggest advantages of mobile is immediate access to real-time information. For example, technicians can access critical documents from the field. Or, do a global database search from the field should a complexity pop up (when it’s often most needed). With an asset’s complete work history at your fingertips, mobile CMMS becomes an incredibly useful tool. And the ability for techs to update job progress gives organizations access to critical metrics, such as average response times, average completion times, and total downtime. Overall, access to information fosters an organization-wide culture of productivity and collaboration.

3. Go green. Think of the cabinets full of asset records, work histories, and more (who knows what you’ll find if you dig deep). A new job pops up on the calendar, and it’s status quo to find documentation, print copies for a tech, then re-file new paperwork once the work order is completed. It’s a vicious cycle, and one that limits scalable growth.

A mobile platform is essential if you’re committed to going paperless. Rather than copies and printouts, disseminate job information with the click of a button. Files are stored direct to a tech’s device—convenient and eco-friendly. These digital documents, attached to work requests, can be accessed from anywhere. The entire process saves time, supports growth and enables a mobile team. At then end of the day, paperless processes makes the job easier and soften an organizational footprint.

Are you ready to get started with a top-notch mobile CMMS? Test drive Maintenance Connection with a free trial today!