The success of a business is largely dependent on the abilities of those who work for it. Without a well-trained staff, it is unlikely that companies will be able to reach their full potential.
In the world of manufacturing, inadequate training often results in production delays that translate into increased costs and decreased revenues. Simply put, insufficiently trained staffers lead to operational deficits.
For many businesses experiencing operational deficits, the root of the problem may be attributed to a company’s inability to maintain and communicate its “tribal knowledge.” In the business world, tribal knowledge refers to unwritten, but known information about company operations among longstanding employees. Problems occur when unwritten information fails to get passed down to new employees before their longstanding counterparts are no longer with the company. Unfortunately, without documentation of often-critical operations information, essential knowledge may be lost forever unless communicated to new employees. With this in mind, it is easy to appreciate why proper documentation of all operations procedures is essential to not only ongoing company functions but also to its long-term viability and success.
Here, I’ll show some of the ways Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) is able to maintain a company’s tribal knowledge and make it easier to train new maintenance and service technicians in all aspects of their job requirements. In short, CMMS platforms are able to do this by ensuring that all maintenance operations and related information are properly documented and stored while also being systematically accessible to all employees, new and old.
Apart from the CMMS software’s ability to walk new technicians from start to finish through the work order process, this particular module contains valuable information on all essential company assets. Of value to new maintenance technicians is their ability to access asset operations and maintenance manuals that are stored within the system’s database. Technicians who are unfamiliar with any maintenance procedures need only to refer to the manual for detailed instructions and helpful images. As well, technicians can review the work order history for a particular asset. This lets them see what went wrong with assets in the past and how problems were resolved. A CMMS removes any uncertainties that may exist by providing the required information with a simple click of a mouse or tap on a tablet.
Not all systems have this feature, but those that do prove to be invaluable, particularly for large facilities with numerous assets or for companies where the technicians work across a number of different locations. Having access to interactive floor plan and site maps saves both time and resources. By searching for a particular asset on the CMMS system, its exact location can be quickly identified on its stored floor plan within a company’s database. Being able to locate an asset in need of servicing without guidance from another technician is a huge benefit for those who are just starting out. It makes them independent much faster, freeing up the other technicians’ time.
Preventive Maintenance is the number one draw for most companies choosing a CMMS to manage their maintenance needs. Although its primary purpose is to oversee, schedule, and report on routine maintenance checks for all company equipment, the CMMS preventive maintenance component is also an excellent tool in technician training. The preventive maintenance module assists new maintenance technicians in many ways, including:
The PM scheduling feature makes it possible for maintenance managers to delegate and track work orders. In the case of a new technician, maintenance managers can assign a work order that is best suited to their abilities to conduct the task and close it out on time. Since the CMMS lets maintenance managers track the progress of a work order, help can be offered to a new technician when a work order is taking too long to complete. If a work order that should be completed in an hour is still not closed out two hours later, the manager knows there’s a problem, for example.
As a quality control check, the CMMS has the added ability to prevent new technicians from closing out work orders on their own. In this way, managers can double-check that maintenance inspections are being done correctly before they close out work orders on their own through the CMMS system. Once a new technician has been with the company for a while, their user permission settings can be adjusted.
More generally, PMs are a great example of how computerized maintenance management software preserves tribal knowledge. When a company first gets a new asset, the PM schedule is set according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. But over time, the maintenance department will start to adjust the schedule. They’ll look at the asset repair history, see what repairs were done and get an idea for what does and doesn’t work. By taking technicians’ direct experience with the asset into account, they can set their own PM schedule and include all the related tricks and tips in the PMs.
KPIs are quantitatively measured values that provide information about how effectively a company is achieving its key business objectives. KPIs are set based on a company’s unique goals that may include such things as asset utilization, avoided costs, compliance rates, demand forecasting and customer satisfaction, just to name a few. To assess new technician performance, CMMSs have the ability to conduct month end KPIs that are specifically related to manpower resources. Using this measure, managers can assess new technicians’ performance by letting them know if they are being overworked or under challenged.
Bringing in new employees requires a company’s commitment to the time, energy, and resources needed to train them. Cutting corners on proper training creates risks on a number of fronts, including productivity, safety, and employee motivation, satisfaction, and retention. While CMMS programs offer a robust solution for overall maintenance management, it also has the added benefit of training and monitoring new technicians’ performance. Considered together, this makes CMMS systems a cost effective and productive resource for effective and profitable company operations.