Every time you create new users in your CMMS (and actually at any time after that), setting the right permissions is a simple but powerful way to boost productivity.

What are user permissions?

They’re what a user can do inside the CMMS software. On a basic level, permissions control what a user can:

  • view

  • add

  • edit

  • delete

So you can have one user who can only view work orders. A second can view, add, and edit work orders while a third user can view, add, edit, and also delete them. But that’s just for work orders. With these same three users, you can have a different combination of permissions for digital floor plans. The first user can only see them, but the second and third can view, add, edit, and delete them.

How do I decide which permissions to assign each user?

It usually doesn’t make sense to make an unique set of permissions for each user. Instead, you should decide on a set of permissions for each user type.

Every organization is different, but for many of our customers, Hippo sets up:

  • System Admins

  • Admins

  • Resources

  • Requesters

A quick way to understand these user types is to connect each one to a character from Batman. Stay with me here.

The System Admin is Alfred, the butler. Sitting behind a wall of monitors back at the Batcave, Alfred is able to see and control everything thanks to the all-powerful Batcomputer. If something is possible in the software, he can do it.

The Admin is Batman. He’s the one out in the field calling the shots, with complete control over the work order workflows and PM schedules. If a request comes in, he can choose to assign it to Robin or reject it altogether.

The Resources are Robin. They’re able to see work orders. Depending on how his permissions are set up, he can see all or only a portion of the work orders. Batman can also enable and disable Robin’s ability to close out work orders on his own. (Astute readers will point out that Batman has the cool utility belt and should therefore be the Resources. Diehard fans will know that Robin also had a cool utility belt.)

The Requesters are Commissioner Gordon. They’re limited to turning on the Bat-Signal when they need something done. It’s up to Batman to review requests and decide which will become assigned work orders.

How do I determine my own user types?

Do they have to be characters from Batman? No, don’t worry. Instead, good way is to start by making a list of the groups of people who will be using the CMMS. It’s likely easiest to go by job title. If you work at a manufacturing plant, for example, you have:

  • CEO
  • Maintenance department head
  • Senior technicians
  • Junior technicians
  • Operators

For each group, write down what you need them to be able to do within the CMMS. The maintenance department head, for example, needs to be able to view, add, edit, and delete nearly every piece of data in the CMMS. Way down on the list, operators likely only need to be able to submit requests.

A good CMMS provider is going to help you work this out during the onboarding process. That said, you put yourself a couple of steps ahead by first on your own trying to work out the types of users you’ll need.

Where do I see productivity gains?

Even before you’re up and running, by dividing users by type, you can streamline the training process. While your System Admin (Alfred) is going to need opportunities to learn all the CMMS platform’s ins and outs, Resources (Robin) might be able to get most of what they need in a few sessions. By limiting what people can do inside the software, you’re reducing their training time.

Once you are up and running, the benefits depend on how you set the permissions.

User can only see their assigned work orders By limiting what they can see, you make it easier for them to find and focus on their own work. First, you cut down on visual clutter, and those saved clicks and scrolls add up over time. Second, employees who spend too much time worrying about what other employees are doing now have less to worry about. Not every organization has this type of employee, but some definitely do.

User can see all associated work orders Let’s say the maintenance department has ten technicians, and three of them are electricians. By setting them up to see associated work orders, any one electrician can see their own work orders plus all the work orders assigned to the other electricians. If someone closes out early, they know exactly where to go to lend a hand.

User cannot close out work orders on their own New technicians benefit from having more experienced employees double-check their work to ensure they’re following in-house best practices, and a simple way to enforce this is to remove permission to close out assigned work orders. With a good cloud-based CMMS that’s updated and backed up in real-time, senior staff don’t have to see the work directly to close out the work order. They can remotely confirm that the work order’s checklist has been completed and review any uploaded notes.

User can only submit requests A great way to find little issues before they become budget-busting problems is to have as many eyes and ears working for you as possible. If people see something, you want them to say something. In manufacturing, the operators, the people who every day work directly with the asset, are your early-warning system. In education, it’s the teachers.

But what you never want is for them to be able to generate work orders on their own. You’re going to be overrun with false positives. And in the cases where they’re right, there should be a work order, they’re not likely to generate a good one for you. What are the chances they know the parts, O&M manuals, and floor diagrams that need to be included in a data-rich work order?

By limiting these users to submitting requests, you can properly gate-keep your work order workflow. Only the right work orders get generated, and they’re generated properly.

Next steps

Remember, to get the benefits of user permissions, you need a CMMS. If you don’t have one, start contacting providers. If you already have a CMMS but your permissions are not set up the way you’d like them, call your current provider and ask for help. If they’re any good, they really want you to get the most out of their software.

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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