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The benefits of a CMMS are that you get more done, faster, with less effort and less stress. Your life gets easier because your workday is more predictable. 

But to really understand the benefits, it pays to look at what a CMMS is, how it works, why it's better than paper and spreadsheets, what it has in terms of features, and how those features come together to deliver efficient workflows. Why do you need to know how it works to better understand the benefits? It's the same with your car. The more you know about how the engine works, the better you can be at driving. 

What is a CMMS, anyway? 

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is software that you use to centralize, standardize, and streamline your maintenance operations. You get all your data in one spot, making is safe, secure, and accessible. 

It's often easier to understand how it all comes together by thinking of a CMMS as having two separate-but-interconnected parts. 

The CMMS database 

At the core is the database, where you keep all your data organized and up to date. Modern solutions handle the database a bit differently, and part of understanding CMMS software is looking at how a lot of providers prefer an ongoing partnership instead of a one-time sale. 

Older systems were on-premises, which means you had the servers onsite. But a lot of newer systems have the database in the cloud, which means your provider takes care of all the servers for you, ensuring everything is updated and up and running. Instead of buying the software outright, you get a subscription, giving you unlimited access. 

This software as a service (SaaS) business model is the same deal you have with Netflix. You're not buying all those movies and TV shows. Instead, you have a subscription that gives you access to them so you can binge as much as you need. 

A key difference, though, is that all your maintenance data is yours, and if you decide to end the subscription with your CMMS provider, you take your data with you. Here, the analogy switches to a babysitter. Your CMMS provider is there to look after your data and make sure it's safe, but as soon as you ask for it back, you get it back. 

The CMMS interface 

The other part of the CMMS is the interface, which is the part you interact with directly to add, update, and share data. You can also think of the interface as all the different features of the CMMS, including: 

  • Work order management 
  • Preventive maintenance 
  • Inventory control 
  • Maintenance reports 

The interface is the part of the software you see, while the database is more behind the scenes. 

What are the advantages of a CMMS over paper and spreadsheets? 

A modern CMMS is better than paper and it's better than spreadsheets, but for opposite reasons. 

Paper work orders make it hard to generate and share data 

When you're trying to track and schedule all your maintenance with paper, you run straight into two problems. First, it's hard to generate data because you have to write everything out by hand, leaving you with scribbled work orders full of small but often critical errors. Sometimes it's the wrong date. Other times you write down the wrong asset. Either way, those small mistakes can end up costing you and the rest of the maintenance department a lot of time and trouble. 

And that's sometimes the least of your awful problems. A lot of times, the work simply falls through the cracks because it's so easy to misplace all those slips of paper. Then you're missing the little tasks that you should have done early, setting yourself up for bigger problems down the line. 

Even when the system works perfectly, when everyone has perfect handwriting and no one ever loses anything, you struggle under a system that is just plain slow. Every time you assign a new work order, you have to either chase down the assigned tech or wait for them to swing by the office to pick up the paperwork. That slows you down. And having to run back to the office for new assignments slows down the techs. 

Spreadsheet work orders make it too easy to generate and share data 

With spreadsheets, you have the opposite problem. Because now you can copy and paste from one file to the next, making copies is fast and easy. 

But those copies don't stay copies for long. When you first send out a copy as an email attachment, it's the same as the original. But as soon as just one tech makes any changes to their copy, there are now multiple versions of that file out there. Right away, every other version of that file is instantly out of date, and anyone who uses one is working from stale data. 

The advantage of a CMMS over paper and spreadsheets is that you never have to worry about working off stale data again. Remember, everything is in one database, and everyone is looking at the same data. If you make a change, update a work order, or change the date on an inspection, the whole team can see the same up-to-date data. 

One source or truth means zero confusion. 

What are the benefits of a CMMS? 

It all boils down to your workday becoming more predictable and less stressful. You get more control, fewer surprises. That's it in broad strokes. But there's also a long list of specific benefits that come with a modern maintenance management software solution. 

Set up, schedule, and track preventive maintenance 

A good CMMS helps you plan preventive maintenance inspections and tasks, so you catch small issues before they have a chance to grow into big, budget-busting problems. It's just like when you always remember to check and change the oil in your car. A small bit of preventive maintenance saves you from a costly seized engine. 

Stay on top of reactive maintenance 

And for those times when things go wrong anyway, CMMS software helps you react faster. Instead of waiting for the problem to become so big everyone knows about it, the built-in open request portal makes it easy for anyone onsite to reach out and contact you as soon as they see a brewing issue.

WorkOrder_tablet_android-1All they have to do is open the online request page and submit their maintenance request. And because the page comes with customizable fields, you can ensure you get the information you need to properly prioritize the work and generate a work order with the everything your techs need to close out efficiently. 

Control inventory, cut costs 

Even if you have your best techs show up at the perfect spot at just the right time, they can't do anything without the right parts and materials. 

And it's more than just efficiency. A small failure could drag on for days if you have to sit and wait on parts to come in from a vendor. Not only are your techs sitting on their hands, but all the asset operators are there also sitting idle. 

But once you're tracking MRO inventory using the software, you don't have to worry about running out of critical parts. Because you always know what you have on hand, you also always know when you should set up the next order. And when you're ordering well before you need things, you also save on costly overnight shipping costs. 

Leverage data, make better decisions

A good CMMS puts you in control of today, but it also helps you better prepare for the future. Because you're now able to capture better, more reliable data, you can leverage it into actionable insights on your overall operations. 

How does that work? Inside the CMMS is all the data on, for example, one of the pumps you have at your facility. By looking at the data, you know that it tends to break down about once every three months. And it's generally because of issues with the lubrication. 

Because you can trust that data, you can take steps to make your life easier. First, reshuffle the connected PMs so that you're checking for issues every two and a half months. Also, make sure those PMs include inspections focused on signs of excess heat and other signs the lubrication needs attention. Finally, if the issue keeps coming up, you can switch suppliers and start stocking higher quality lubricants.  

What are the key features of a CMMS? 

Another way to think about the benefits is by looking at the most common features. Once you know the features, you have a better sense of how you could combine them into efficient workflows. 

It's the same as looking at a list of construction materials to get a sense of what you could eventually build for yourself. 

Work order management module 

At the heart of maintenance management is work order management, where you control what the team does, how they do it, and in what order. 

CMMS software gives you as seamless work order workflow, starting with the open maintenance request portal. As soon as a request comes in, you can review and approve it. From there, and still inside the CMMS, you can generate a new work order, prioritize it, assign it to a tech, and then track their progress to close out. 

Preventive maintenance module 

The last place you want to be is behind the maintenance curve, always running around putting out fires. The preventive maintenance module helps keep you out ahead, where you're finally in charge of what the team does because it's all proactive, not reactive. 

ScheduledWorkORders_Desktop

Using the CMMS, you can set up your PMs with all the data techs need to work efficiently. They show up onsite knowing what to do and with all the parts and materials they need to do it right. 

And once you have your PMs packed with the right data, you can set them to generate based on meter or time. For example, you might have a pump that you check after a set number of cycles and a conveyor belt you check once every three weeks. 

Asset and equipment management module 

Before you can maintain your assets and equipment, you need to know which ones you have. Although this seems obvious, many organizations do not have complete, up-to-date asset and equipment lists. 

Modern CMMS solutions give you the perfect place to collect and keep all your asset data, including everything from serial numbers to O&M manuals. And because you now know where everything is, it's a lot easier for you to keep it up to date. 

Inventory management module 

On the topic of needing to know what you have, a CMMS makes inventory control much easier. Once you have your current levels in the software, the CMMS automatically updates them every time a tech closes out a work order with associated parts and materials. 

InventoryParts_Desktop

For example, you have three small motors in inventory. A pump goes offline, so you generate a work order, associating one of the motors. When the tech closes out, the software helps you track inventory by automatically updating the levels. When you check, now you can see you only have two motors on hand. 

Better yet, you can set the software up so that when you dip below your par levels, you get an email alert telling you it's time to get more. And with all the vendor info already inside the CMMS, you can easily set up your order. 

Next steps 

 Ready to start seeing the benefits of a CMMS?

Hippo's here to help you get the solution that works best for you, including answering your questions about maintenance management software, helping you book a live software demo, or even setting you up with a free trial.

Summary 

Modern CMMS solutions deliver a long list of benefits, and the more you know about how the software works, the easier it is to understand them. Maintenance and facility managers can use the software to take control of their maintenance operations by making their data safe, secure, and accessible. It starts with cloud computing, where all your data lives in a central database. The interface is what you use to add, update, and share the data. Unlike older maintenance management methods like paper and spreadsheets, with a CMMS all your data is always up to date and having one source of truth means no one on the maintenance team is ever out of the loop. 

A good CMMS makes it easier to manage work orders, set up and schedule preventive maintenance inspections and tasks, control inventory, and leverage data. It helps you do all of these with a combination of features you can use to build streamlined workflows, including modules for work order management, preventive maintenance, inventory, and reports. 

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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