In recent years, Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) has transformed how companies do business and in particular, how they oversee their facility management. During the past two decades, businesses - large and small - are increasingly making the move from spreadsheet programs to the highly sophisticated and robust maintenance management packages offered by a growing number of CMMS vendors. This shift has come about in response to market demands, economic challenges and advances in technology that have challenged companies across a wide range of industry sectors to find ways of conducting business in leaner, smarter and more efficient ways. Once thought to be the purview of large companies alone (i.e., those with multiple enterprises), it is now recognized that the range of options available in CMMS packages make them extremely well suited for small businesses as well.
According to the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy, small businesses are defined as companies with a maximum of $35.5 million in annual sales and 1500 employees. Given these threshold limits, it is easy to see that CMMS software for small businesses can reap similar benefits as their large business counterparts when it comes to increased organizational efficiency, extended equipment lifespans, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced costs and increased profits. With CMMS’s ability to fully automate preventive maintenance schedules, work orders and inventory levels, small businesses are able to operate more efficiently with cost saving benefits.
Small businesses represent a diverse group of companies spanning a broad range of industry, corporate and commercial sectors. Because of this, as well as the range in their size and structure, small business owners face a number of challenges when seeking a CMMS that is best suited to their needs. Fortunately, most maintenance management systems are known for their customizability. This means that the CMMS software can meet the individual needs of businesses large and small, and with differing numbers of assets, users, sites and preventive maintenance requirements. Automated systems also have the ability to adjust to the changing needs of organizations as they grow and reformulate, a common concern among emerging businesses. With a customizable CMMS, the system adapts to the organization and not the organization adapting to the system.
The following is a list of other features well suited toward small businesses with unique concerns:
Cloud Based Software
Small businesses may not have its own in-house IT staff. Because of this, simplicity and cost savings are important. Many CMMS systems offer cloud-based deployment, which means the system is accessed through a vendor’s server with all maintenance and upgrades, provided remotely. There is no need for any in-house system support or additional security software. Up front costs of cloud based systems are less costly than on site installed systems. Overall, with cloud based CMMS software, the work, worry and added costs of maintenance and upgrades are all taken care of by the CMMS vendor.
Customized User Access
Small businesses typically have people assigned to doing different tasks with different levels of responsibility. These may also involve having varying levels of security clearance. CMMS software is able to address these issues by assigning different levels of system access for users based on security, role descriptions or other considerations. For example, maintenance managers can be assigned comprehensive access to the entire system, while maintenance techs can be assigned limited access to specific areas of the CMMS.
In small businesses, it is common for maintenance staff to be deployed to various locations within or outside of a facility. For example, a maintenance tech may be assigned to work within a facility and then later be deployed to carry out tasks off site. One of the most appealing features of CMMS software is its portability through mobile access capabilities that make it possible for maintenance technicians to place work orders, check inventory levels, order parts or generate reports etc. wherever they may be. Being able to access a CMMS dashboard from any device with an internet connection is incredibly efficient because it reduces unnecessary time delays associated with having to rely on office based computers to complete these tasks.
Image Capturing Capabilities
Avoiding errors when ordering parts is a common concern for businesses of all sizes. Too often, maintenance technicians make the mistake of transcribing the wrong part or serial number. The best way to overcome this problem is to capture the barcodes via an image. Utilizing bar code scanning through the mobile device app ensures that the correct part or piece of equipment will be ordered. As well, photo images of a piece of equipment and its location can be captured as well. These CMMS integrated features can accurately identify equipment in need of repair and capture a scanned image of a part’s barcode in need of replacement. Both features reduce often-costly delays when common mistakes are made.
Access to Architectural Plans and Documents
When familiarizing new employees with the layout and structure of a facility or identifying the locations of electrical or plumbing installations when adding equipment, having architectural drawings are helpful to small business owners. These drawings are also known as blueprints - they are a rendering of an architectural design as plan and/or elevation views of a building or structure. Architectural drawings are accessible through system dashboards in many CMMS packages. Having these provide another way to identify the exact location of equipment as well as any electrical and plumbing placements that may impact a facility’s operations.
CMMS Software Ongoing Supports
The bottom line for small businesses is having reliable ongoing support that ensures they are getting the most from their investment. Many CMMS software packages bundle supports into its pricing structure while other CMMS vendors sell supports as add-on features. CMMS supports are available to cover businesses from implementation through after care with the aim of having the system perform as it was designed. Of great importance is the implementation phase when all critical data regarding inventory, assets and users are entered along with configuration of preventive maintenance schedules. CMMS vendors offer clients a choice of in house audits or remote and telephone tech support for implementation purposes. As well, many CMMS vendors include in their system packages a variety of onboarding and ongoing resources to assist users in system use across time. These resources are available as online manuals, videos, email, chat and webinar recordings as well as telephone support.
Small businesses, like their large business counterparts have the opportunity to realize cost saving benefits by adding CMMS software to their operations. Small businesses, typically operating on smaller margins have an even greater motivation to find ways of operating better, leaner, faster and smarter. CMMS software makes this possible through increased operating efficiencies by reducing costs, saving time and resources and ultimately, achieving a greater return on investment (ROI). CMMSs are designed to meet the diverse needs of small businesses now and as they continue to grow and evolve in the future.