If your maintenance department has fallen into the habit of chasing down repairs and fighting fires, it’s unlikely that implementing even the most feature-rich CMMS will change the culture. In a reactive environment, the team member who gets saddled with the implementation will be sweating bullets as he slogs through asset data entry, while repairs pile up and work gets put on hold.
Without taking the time upfront to look at the “big picture,” understand maintenance workflows and come up with goals and objectives for the CMMS, the maintenance team will end up with an abandoned system that no one uses and a gradual return to paper binders and Excel® spreadsheets.
Hope Isn’t a Strategy
One way to ensure that CMMS delivers a decent return on investment in terms of time, money and a thriving team that can catch its collective breath is to utilize implementation consulting services to bring your team together to lay out a solid CMMS implementation plan and follow it through.
CMMS strategy and planning, configuring and set up, follow up and training are capabilities that maintenance directors should expect from their implementation consultants. An effective consultant should ask pertinent questions as planning gets underway. For example:
- How do technicians handle their workload today in terms of repairs and maintenance tasks? What steps are involved in that process?
- Is there a champion to move the implementation along and gather knowledge that he’ll share with the team?
- Ideally, what are the measures of success for improving processes and making maintenance more efficient?
- How do you want to use the CMMS? Will it be used to schedule preventive maintenance (PMs)? Track inventory? Manage work orders? What about PMs for non-assets like safety tasks, training re-certification, fleet registration renewals, etc.?
- Can the CMMS data be integrated into the budget process to help with decisions about replacing equipment when it starts to wear out?
- Which reports will the CMMS need to generate for audits and regulatory inspections?
Matching the CMMS to Your Work Flows
For a successful set-up, managers need to configure the CMMS to match the work flows of their facilities and add unique information for the facility’s assets as necessary. And they ought to be able to eliminate redundancies. For instance, it shouldn’t require entering 20 separate PMs for 20 air conditioning units in different locations.
Once the team agrees on objectives and understands the benefits, and the CMMS is implemented, a competent consultant should structure the testing and follow-up phase to measure the success or failure of the implementation and make the proper adjustments by configuring the features that best match the needs of the individual facility or groups of facilities.
The consultant’s job is to also encourage team members to participate in training webinars and videos to learn about the CMMS early on in the implementation process. Doing so can reduce the process down to a few weeks, if not days.
Championing the User
For technicians who lack computer skills, there’s an easy fix. First, it’s important that a solution is selected based on its simplicity of design, preferably with the maintenance user in mind. Second, technicians do not need to interact with the system at the same level as the administrator.
Initially, they only need to learn the basics: how to access work order (WO) assignments and what to do to complete them. As the CMMS becomes integrated into the maintenance functions of a facility, technicians can learn to use other features of the system when the need arises. Recap sessions to review CMMS procedures can also help build confidence and competency among staff members who do the hands-on work of equipment repair.
Once implementation is underway and the team is cranking out PMs and work orders, a CMMS consultant can move onto more advanced features, like generating reports that show which machinery is breaking down frequently, and which can be used to bolster requests for new purchases. He or she can show the team how to call up an archive of work orders and repairs in the CMMS and create an audit trail to make it far easier to comply with government or other third-party reporting requirements. In short, when all of the advantages of a CMMS become apparent to maintenance professionals, it tends to be a driver for follow-through to make the system more efficient and effective.