How many times over the last year did a critical piece of equipment break down unexpectedly? How many hours of productivity were lost due to an emergency repair? How many preventive maintenance tasks were missed due to a scheduling oversight? Do you know how many work orders were submitted, actioned and resolved over the last 6 months and if any of them are still opened?
If you’re at a point where you are tired of managing your facility using an archaic system of handwritten checklists, multiple excel spreadsheets, duplicate asset tracking documentation and other common inefficiencies, then you are probably searching for a way to automate and simplify your maintenance operation with a maintenance software.
With so many options on the market, choosing the best maintenance software that can satisfy all of your business needs is definitely not an easy task.
To help you make the right decision, we developed this guide that will help you concentrate on most important things during your selection process.
Identify Your Pain Points
The first step in the process of selecting the right maintenance software is to critically examine your own internal processes.
A good place to start is by reviewing your Standard Maintenance Procedures or anything that documents the processes you’ll be automating. If one does not exist, have the maintenance team write down what they do on a daily basis and this can serve as your guidepost when navigating through various features you want to see in your maintenance software.
Additionally, your team should also be able to provide a list of assets your facility owns that you wish to organize and maintain.
Having such a detailed account will help you identify the current workflow inefficiencies and find answers to important questions like:
- How quickly are we solving maintenance requests and breakdowns?
- How is preventative maintenance currently scheduled?
- Who keeps track of equipment and their maintenance schedules?
- How much overtime work is happening and why?
- Do you know where all of your assets are?
- Do you know how much spare parts you have in stock?
- What are some other problems technicians face on a regular basis?
Discussing the entire process in detail will highlight the areas that consistently experience issues. Finding a solution that can address these pain points will help determine what is the best maintenance software for your company.
Get Clear on Needs and Wants
As we already mentioned, the more defined your internal processes are, the easier it will be to identify which features you need.
Let’s presume that at this point you have a list of all the features you would want to have at your disposal. Your next move should be to organize the list in a way that you have a clear picture of what are the must-have features and what are the optional features.
The list could look something like this:
Besides the feature list, you should also define things like the price range you’re aiming for so you can immediately filter out solutions that don’t fit into your budget.
Now that you got your priorities straight, here are some questions you can use to zone in on the perfect maintenance software that will give your company that competitive edge.
10 Questions You Should Ask When Choosing The Best Maintenance Software
1) Does it have all necessary features?
This is the first line of elimination and it is based on all the prep work we talked about so far.
If a certain software can’t check all must-have features you put on your list, save yourself some time and start looking at other solutions.
Of course, just because the feature exists, doesn’t necessarily mean it can be easily implemented or used. That’s why it is also important to see how that feature actually works through an online webinar or product tutorials. We will touch on this more in the upcoming questions.
There are multiple ways in which you can find out the full set of features that a certain solution offers. Besides contacting the providers themselves, the next best thing is to look at CMMS reviews on popular sites.
2) A cloud-based system or a desktop (installed on-premises) solution?
Cloud-based or an on-premise solution is an important choice as it significantly changes your overall implementation costs, how quickly updates/bug fixes occur and other important aspects.
Setting up a cloud-based system requires fewer upfront costs. You do not have to purchase hardware for the CMMS to run on or have IT spend precious time setting it up and managing the server.
Additionally, getting started on a cloud-based system is extremely quick. An account with your first assets can be created within a matter of minutes.
You can get started with Limble CMMS for as litle as 1$ per month/per asset.
Another important aspect of cloud-based versus on-premise approach is how updates and bug fixes will be deployed. On-premise solutions are often updated once a year while cloud-based systems are updated in real-time. This means that if the on-premise maintenance software vendor releases a new feature or fixes an annoying bug, you may need to wait a total of 12 months before you see the updates in your CMMS. Additionally, new features and bug fixes on on-premise solutions often come with additional costs.
That being said, there are scenarios in which you should consider an on-premise solution. If your company has data or regulatory requirements that force the data to stay on site, you may need to use an on-premise solution.
3) How well does the software track maintenance work and inventory usage?
You’ve already outlined the features you need, but these two features merit mentioning again. The ability to easily communicate and accurately track maintenance tasks and associate those tasks with parts is critical for a smooth running maintenance department. This allows you to easily organize, assign and track work, maintain an accurate inventory, alert staff when inventory is low and most importantly, have the needed parts to promptly restore equipment when it malfunctions.
If you still aren’t convinced these are extremely useful features, take a look at the CMMS statistics for 2018 which show that work order management and inventory management are the most requested features in a CMMS.
4) How easy (or difficult) it is to schedule maintenance work?
As you can see from the picture above, maintenance scheduling is also one of the top requested features in a CMMS.
The reason for that is simple. If you want to run an effective maintenance department and minimize your operating costs, then having the ability to easily schedule and track routine maintenance work is critical.
Analyse your potential vendors to see how their software handles scheduling work. Make sure that PM schedules can be easily set in a clear and understandable format, open work can be easily viewed in a calendar format, and PM templates can be built so that the routine work has clear, detailed and consistent instructions.
5) Is the system compatible with mobile technology?
Make sure your selected CMMS provider has a mobile maintenance app that is well designed and easy to use. Utilizing mobile technologies allows for extremely large time efficiency gains.
Technicians no longer have to go to a file folder or desktop computer to look up an equipment’s entire work history which drastically speeds up diagnostic times.
Work can be closed out while being physically at the equipment location which again decreases the amount of time spent.
From the convenience of their phone, managers can check or redirect open work to accommodate new work requests or tickets that are coming in.
We could go on and on about the benefits of a mobile maintenance app, but make sure the CMMS vendors you are looking at have a well-designed app. If the app is difficult to use or has a horrible user interface, you will quickly lose the efficiencies gained from using mobile technology.
6) Are there any hidden costs?
Always check that you are getting an upfront description of pricing for the total package including any add-on features, scaling costs, implementation consultation, and on-going support fees.
Nothing is more frustrating than discovering in the middle of the implementation process that there are additional costs associated with items like levels of support or future feature upgrades.
7) Can the software properly scale and follow the growth of your business?
When it comes to scaling, the first thing people like to talk about is IT challenges. However, if you decided to go with a cloud-based deployment, you won’t need to worry about that.
So what should you focus on then?
A good thing to look at is the ease of use and user experience. If the CMMS you are looking at isn’t particularly user-friendly out of the box, things are only going to get worse when you decide to track more assets or coordinate even bigger maintenance team.
8) What types of reports can be generated using the system?
One of the biggest advantages of using a CMMS is its ability to gather an enormous amount of data and produce accurate reports so data-driven decisions can be easily made.
That’s why it is paramount to ensure that the system you decide to implement can generate all necessary reports to answer questions like:
- Has the right maintenance work been done?
- Was that work done on time and what is it costing me?
- Which asset is costing the most and why?
- What is my average time to repair (MTTR) and my average time between failures (MTBF)?
- Where is my maintenance team’s time being spent?
- How many parts were used last month and what did it cost?
9) How involved is the implementation process?
An important part of choosing the best maintenance software is finding a solution that you can implement in a reasonable time frame.
If the software is flexible enough to adjust to your needs and the vendor is willing to provide you with an adequate support, the implementation process should go quickly without any hiccups. Additionally, having access to 1 on 1 support, knowledge bases or instructional videos is a big plus for making sure the implementation goes smoothly.
While small to mid-sized businesses can often work with the solution out of the box with minimal modifications, larger companies also have to think about available integration options and how easy or hard it will be to connect a particular maintenance software with their existing system.
10) What type of support is offered with the CMMS?
Having quick access to competent support is of utmost importance. CMMS vendors should offer phone, live chat, email and 1 on 1 support.
Here at Limble CMMS, we provide each client with a dedicated CMMS advisor that is readily available to help customers quickly and easily implement our software into their organization.
What Comes Next?
Now that you have reviewed all of your options, you’ll need to introduce the shortlisted solutions to your maintenance team and get their feedback before you make the final decision.
Getting your team’s buy-in will make the implementation process go much smoother and ultimately result in a more effective long-term operation.
Once you are ready to get started with your selected CMMS, it might not be a bad idea to look at some guides and tutorials that will help you with this transition and make sure you get the most out of your new CMMS.
If you are reviewing different maintenance solutions because your current operations focus heavily on reactive maintenance and you are looking to adopt a more proactive approach, check out our step by step guide that details how to switch from reactive to preventive maintenance with the help of a CMMS.
At the End of the Day
…the process for choosing the best maintenance software starts with having the company’s core internal processes well-defined.
Understanding the motivating factors that prompted the need to organize and automate your maintenance process, as well as identifying key metrics for data tracking for future business decisions, will lead the way in finding the best maintenance software for your business.
If you are interested in finding out how Limble CMMS can help you improve your maintenance operations or if you have any general question, don’t hesitate to get in touch.