You're under constant pressure to find new ways to cut facility management costs, and you've heard that implementing facility management software can help. But you still have questions, and the most important one is "Does it really work?"
It does, but not by focusing directly on spending. Instead, the right software solution helps you streamline and strengthen two other key parts of your operations.
First, let's look at why facility managers are always thinking about their budgets.
Others often focus only on facility management costs
It's unfair, but the C-suite and other departments sometimes see facility management and the maintenance department as cost centers, eating up resources without directly contributing to the organization's bottom line.
According to a recent McKinsey report on facility management costs, when you're under-appreciated, you're also undervalued, leaving facility managers vulnerable to budget cuts.
"When facing ongoing pressure to reduce operating costs, companies tend to look for savings without giving much thought to the long-term repercussions ... [making] facilities management a particularly ripe target."
The result: facility managers need to always be on the lookout for ways to maximize their budgets. It's just part of the job. So the question is "What's the best way to do it?"
The first step isn't to look at facility management costs.
Inefficiencies force facility management costs to grow
The math is simple: more steps and more time equals increased costs. So if you want to control your budget, you need to find and fix your inefficiencies.
But where are they hiding?
They're tangled up inside your workflows. They're tucked in behind all the parts of your operation you can't see.
Without fast access to accurate information, every single process takes more time and effort than it should. Technicians run around tail-chasing instead of arriving onsite prepared to complete tasks quickly and correctly. And without a reliable way to see the operational "big picture," you're stuck trying to manage resources and assets with trial and error.
Facility management software removes inefficiencies by streamlining workflows and creating transparency.
Let's look at some of the feature sets that can help you.
Take control of work order management with facility management software
Successful asset or facility management starts with efficient work orders. With the right set of work order features, everything moves a lot more smoothly.
Find issues faster with an open request portal
When dealing with on-demand work orders, it starts with getting the right data as quickly as possible. The sooner you know about a problem and the more you know about it, the faster and more effectively you can deal with it.
With an open request portal, everyone in the facility acts as an extra set of eyes for you. As soon as someone notices something, from a leaky pipe in the bathroom to a malfunctioning elevator, they're able to reach out and contact you directly. No one has to try to track down your phone number or email. No one's going to wait until they have a chance to swing by your office. As soon as they see a problem, they can submit a request through the open portal.
And because the online form has defined fields, people know what information your team needs to respond properly. You can review the request, and if you approve it, more easily prioritize it.
Set techs up for success with data-packed work orders
For the work orders you approve and assign, the right facility management software helps you give technicians everything they need to work efficiently and close out quickly, including:
- Associated parts and materials
- Interactive site plans and floor maps
- Digital O&M manuals, schematics, images, and warranties
- Detailed step-by-step instructions and customizable checklists
- Comprehensive asset data, including maintenance and repair histories
Let's look at how those work together to help technicians work faster, better. Even before they head out to the site, they already have a list of the parts and materials they need. They save themselves the wasted time and effort of having to run back to the office to grab parts.
With the plans and maps, they can move in a straight line to the assigned asset. In a large facility or an operation spread out over multiple locations, even a small wrong turn leads to a lot of wasted time. Site plans and floor maps are especially helpful for junior technicians who are new on the job. Instead of asking senior staff to babysit them, you can trust them to find their way around.
Once they're at the asset with the right inventory, they have instant access to manuals, instructions, and checklists, which should cover them for all routine and basic maintenance and repairs. When the issue is more challenging, they can troubleshoot by reviewing the asset's repair and maintenance histories.
Establish clear lines of communication with direct image uploads and task comments
A good CMMS delivers a lot of important information to technicians wherever they are in the facility. But strong lines of communication always work both ways. Using a mobile maintenance app, technicians can easily send data back to the department.
Two important methods are task comments and image uploads. There are times when technicians are working on an asset, and they need to explain to the department the steps they are taking. For example, a technician arrives at an asset to complete a routine inspection followed by a few scheduled maintenance tasks. They already have the parts and materials they thought would be enough, but the asset needs a lot more work. Adding a quick note to the work order, they can warn the department about the unexpected delay.
Using their mobile device's built-in camera, they can quickly take a picture and upload it to the work order. Everyone on the team can instantly see the issue and offer suggestions on how best to fix it. Alternatively, technicians can upload images to work orders before close out, requesting a remote visual inspection from the maintenance lead or more experienced staff.
Set up a preventive maintenance schedule with facility management software
Preventive maintenance helps you find small issues before they have a chance to grow into big problems. It's always going to be easier and cheaper to periodically check the oil than replace a seized engine.
It's also always cheaper to order parts and materials long before they're needed. When you can schedule work in advance, you give yourself more than enough time to ensure you have the required parts and materials in inventory for when you need them. When you rely on reactive work orders, you often have to rush deliver parts you didn't know you needed.
But the right preventive maintenance program delivers even more.
In a recent interview on the Asset Champion podcast, the director of product and design at ManagerPlus, Cody Gray, explained the additional benefits of preventive maintenance.
"I always hear when we talk about asset management, the number one thing I hear is avoid costly repairs by making sure your equipment is well-maintained... [But] if you have a really good asset management strategy, you can provide your services or make your goods more efficiently, or you can do it at a higher rate, or you can do it at a higher quality. A good asset management strategy therefore becomes a competitive advantage ... [A preventive maintenance program's goal is] to keep you at the top of your game."
Automate reporting for better tracking and compliance with facility management software
Unlike older paper- and spreadsheet-based methods, facility management software makes it easy to capture and safeguard data. When you try to manage everything on paper, it's hard to make copies of work orders, and it's even harder to get them into the hands of the right people. Technicians spend all day running back and forth to and from the office, picking up and dropping off paperwork.
Spreadsheets are just as unreliable, but for the opposite reason. It's easy to distribute spreadsheets, but any changes you make to one file are not carried over to the other versions. Quickly, everyone has their own out-of-sync version.
Modern solutions solve these problems by securing all your data in one spot, where it can keep everything up to date in real time. And it also makes all the data available from any mobile device. Everyone on the team is looking at the same data, and they can see it from anywhere.
Those are the advantages of being able to capture and share data in real time. But there's more you can do with your data.
Good facility management software also makes it easy to crunch the data into actionable insights. Now instead of relying on trial and error, you can make decisions backed by hard numbers.
For example, by looking at your maintenance and repair histories, you can see which assets are the most prone to breaking down. By focusing on the types of breakdown and their frequencies, you can begin to fine-tune your preventive maintenance schedules. If the grill in the cafeteria has stopped working three times in the last six months, you can start to schedule inspections to catch any small issues before they have a chance to become real problems.
You can also use this data to make important repair-or-replace decisions for larger assets. By looking at how much it's costing you to keep an asset up and running, you can see when it becomes cheaper to replace it.
Once you're managing work orders through the software, you can start accurately tracking resource hours. And once you have a clear idea of how long assigned tasks take, you can better manage the schedule. In some cases, you can see which technicians are falling outside the average for close-out times and supply more supervision or training.
There are always two parts to successful compliance. It's not enough to do the work. You also have to prove you did it.
With automated reports, you can quickly generate data-packed reports full of easy-to-read graphs and charts to show the work your department completed and when. You can track and report on maintenance metrics and key performance indicators to prove compliance.
If you've been thinking about getting facility management software, or you have one but it's not living up to what you were promised, it's time to get started.
Reach out to providers. They can help you better understand your options and find the solution that works best for you.