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When it comes to New Year's resolutions, the numbers are against you. More than 75% of people give up before the end of January. How many stick it out long-term? Less than 8%. A big reason people fail is they make too many resolutions. But in 2021, you can finally take control of maintenance by focusing on just one thing.  

And it's not limited to maintenance management. It's life cycle asset management, pro-active preventive maintenance management, complete facility management, and even inventory control. 

In the end, reaching all these goals comes down to the quality of your data. That means the best New Year's resolution for 2021 is to focus on data. 

And the easiest way to get good maintenance data, keep it safe and make it accessible, and even leverage it—get it working for you—is to get the right CMMS software. 

Capture maintenance data with CMMS software 

When it comes to grabbing quality data, it pays to be both active and passive. You need programs to go out and capture the data you need to keep things running smoothly. But you need ways to effortlessly collect data, too. It's just like fishing. Sometimes the best way is to grab a spear and go out and find the fish. Other times, it makes more sense to bait your hook and wait for lunch to come to you. 

Set up and standardize your SOPs with CMMS software 

Right now, your department likely has tons of valuable data in a less-than-safe place. It's walking around in senior techs' heads. 

You can't underestimate the value of that knowledge. All that accumulated hard-won know-how is a huge benefit to the department. So much of the time, diagnosing problems and troubleshooting solutions comes down to experience. It's just like when you go to the doctor. Nothing puts you more at ease than hearing them say, "Oh, I've seen this a bunch of times before." 

And you can't underestimate how easily you could lose all that know-how. When even just a few of your senior techs transfer or retire, it all walks right out the door with them. Business schools warn managers against what they call key-man risk, where your success is too closely tied to a few employees who could leave the company at any time. But it's often worse than that. Even if your senior techs could stay with the company forever, they're still not able to reliably, consistently, and easily share their know-how with the rest of the department. 

So, you need to actively safeguard all that know-how with an effective "knowledge transfer" program, and it's easier than it sounds. There are really only five steps. Once you have everything in the CMMS, you can then make all that knowledge available across the department in the form of work order templates packed with step-by-step instructions and checklists. Everyone has instant access, even long after the senior techs have left the department. 

As an added benefit, you've also standardized your maintenance and repairs tasks, ensuring the same works get done the same way every time. This makes updating and fine-tuning your SOPs a lot easier. Because the techs do everything the same way, you can make changes and accurately track the results. When every tech does things their own way, it's much harder to know what's working and what's not. Think of it this way: how could you improve a recipe if every chef was adding different ingredients? 

Make capturing data part of the workflow with a maintenance mobile app 

You should also make it easy to capture data outside of the formal knowledge transfer program. When techs are working on an asset, they notice something or figure something out that the maintenance department should include in future work orders.     

Using the tasks and work order comments feature built into the mobile maintenance app, they can quickly communicate with the maintenance department, explaining what they're doing and why. And the whole process is as easy as taking out their mobile device and tapping in some quick notes. When their workaround or insight has been added to the system, the whole department eventually benefits. 

Leverage maintenance data with CMMS software 

Once you have good data, you can start using it to make your life easier. The right data works for you, and that means you do less work. 

Streamline work by including data in CMMS software work orders 

We've already covered how using work order templates helps you add step-by-step instructions and checklists to work orders. But they're really only the beginning. With the right work order software, you can quickly add all the information techs need to close out efficiently, including: 

  • Interactive site maps and floor plans 
  • Associated parts and materials 
  • Digital schematics, images, O&M manuals, and warranties 
  • Asset maintenance and repair histories 

Let's go through and see how they help techs get more done with less effort. 

First, the maps and floor plans mean they never waste time trying to figure where to go. As soon as they're assigned a work order, they go directly to exactly where they're needed. Even if it's their first day on the job. They also never arrive empty-handed because they already know what parts and materials they need. No more arriving at the asset only to have to run back to the supply closet. Not only do they have what they need, but they also know what to do with it, thanks to detailed instructions and checklists. And when an asset breaks down unexpectedly, techs can access manuals as well as detailed maintenance and repair histories to help them troubleshoot. 

Create a preventive maintenance program with CMMS software 

Good data helps with on-demand work orders, but where it shines is with preventive maintenance. And for so many maintenance leads, this is their annual New Year's resolution: finally, get a preventive maintenance program up and running. With good data and the right preventive maintenance software, 2021 is the year you finally make it happen. 

When you're setting up the program, in broad strokes, you start by looking at your assets and determining the best maintenance strategy for each one. For some, it's run to failure. Light bulbs are the classic example. But for a lot of them, it's preventive maintenance. Once you know which ones you want to include in your PMs schedule, you need to determine the tasks and timelines. You need to know what you're going to do and how often. 

For tasks, you subdivide them into things you look for and things you do. So, for a conveyor belt, you inspect the belt for wear and add lubricant. And for timelines, you subdivide them into calendar and meter. Some PMs you do according to time, others according to use. For example, with a car you change to snow tires based on the season, but you change the oil based on the mileage. 

That's a lot of decisions to make for a lot of assets. In some cases, especially for newer assets, you can go by the manufacturers' recommendations. But for older assets, it makes more sense to leverage your data. 

How often should you run a PM on your forklift? Check how often it's broken down in the last year, and then schedule PMs for shorter intervals. If it tends to break down every three months, you can set PMs every two and a half. Your data also tells you what tasks to include. Does the forklift tend to get leaks? Create PMs to inspect the seals and top off the fluids. 

Once everything is set up in the CMMS, the software does all the remembering for you. When PMs come due, it automatically generates preventive maintenance work orders. Depending on how you set them up, it can also automatically assign them.   

Take that preventive maintenance program and make it even better 

As you build up the amount and quality of your data, you can keep going back and fine-tuning your preventive maintenance program. After six months, it might make more sense to look at that forklift less often. Or, you might switch to a different set of inspections and tasks. Remember, a big part of what makes fine-tuning possible is the overall consistency of the maintenance and repairs. Because everyone is doing the same jobs the same ways, you can reliably track which tasks and timelines work and what needs improving. 

The right CMMS even comes with built-in auto-generated reports for your preventive maintenance program, letting you track KPIs like the percentage of PMs completed on time. The data can tell you if you need to adjust the number of resources you're putting into preventive maintenance, for example. You can see where the bottlenecks are, who needs more training, and who needs more supervision. 

Next steps 

It's that time of again, when people make themselves promises about the new year. If you're tired of dealing with 2020, make 2021 your Year of Data. And the easiest way to do that is with the right CMMS. 

So, your next step is to start reaching out to providers. Once they have an idea of your goals for 2021, they can start explaining your options and how you can make this New Year's resolution stick. 

Speak to CMMS specialist

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.