With the current economic uncertainty driven by COVID-19, efficiency in facility maintenance has become crucial. Now more than ever, facilities and maintenance managers need to get more done with less. CMMS software can help. It’s a powerful tool for protecting value and cutting costs.

If CMMS software were applying for a job in your department, its resume would read “Great communicator with a mind like a steel trap and a real head for numbers.”

Quick introduction to CMMS software

Modern CMMS platforms use cloud computing, which means all your data lives in one secure database that everyone on the team can access from anywhere, at any time. No more chasing work orders scribbled on scraps of paper. No more hunting down out-of-date spreadsheet file attachments on old emails. Everything is in one spot, and it’s safe, secure, and accessible. And because everything is done in real-time, your department can react to shifting demands seamlessly. Everyone is in the loop, working from the same up-to-date data.

CMMS software is really good at capturing data and keeping it safe. It’s also really good at crunching that data and generating reports packed with graphs and KPIs for data-driven decision-making. With a couple of quick clicks, you can see the maintenance big picture. And knowing where your budget is going is the first step to reducing waste.

Something that’s always been true but has recently become more important is that your CMMS provider does all the IT heavy lifting for you. They maintain the servers, secure and backup the data, update and upgrade the software. That means there’s no extra work for your company’s IT team, who are likely already busy trying to support other departments who have made an unplanned shift to working remotely.

Now that we know what it is and a bit about how it works, let’s look at how CMMS software protects value and cuts costs.

Protect “tribal knowledge” with CMMS software

For a lot of departments, their most valuable possession is the hard-won knowledge of the assets they maintain. No one knows a machine or piece of equipment better than the technicians who have been keeping it running. When someone can diagnose a problem simply by listening to an asset or just placing a hand on it to feel for vibrations, it’s impressive. And very dangerous.

That’s because as soon as you lose the techs, you also lose all that know-how. This is not a new problem, and there’s even a great urban legend about it. In the story, a maintenance tech retires after many years on the job. Within the first month, he’s called back by his desperate boss. One of the machines is down and none of the newer techs know to get it back up and running. The retired tech comes, walks around the machine a few times, and then marks a spot with chalk. That’s the part that needs to be replaced, he explains. Then he presents his old boss with the invoice. The chalk mark? A penny. Knowing where to put the chalk mark? Ten thousand dollars.

CMMS software safeguards all your techs’ experience and know-how by making it easy to include lots of information in work orders. Remember, the work orders are not scribbled on pieces of paper or stuck in spreadsheets. They’re inside the CMMS, making it easy to add everything technicians need to do the work properly and close out efficiently, including:

  • Step-by-step instructions
  • Customizable checklists
  • Digital schematics, manuals, and images
  • Associated parts and materials


Good CMMS software even has interactive site plans and floor maps.

That story about the retired tech and the ten-thousand-dollar invoice is just that, a story. But departments really do lose a lot of value when technicians retire or move to other companies.

Manage inventory with CMMS software

Poor inventory management leads to waste. When an asset is offline, the company is paying operators to stand around doing nothing. You’re paying technicians to work on the asset, and if things take a long time, you could also be paying them overtime. There’s also the cost of lost production. If the downtime stretches on long enough, the company might be forced to run extra shifts. If you don’t have the right parts and materials on hand, everything takes even longer, which means every cost skyrockets. On top of that, you also have to spend extra money on rush deliveries to get the parts and materials you need.

But keeping as much in inventory as possible is not the answer. Inventory comes with carrying costs. You need somewhere to keep it, and if it’s sensitive to temperature or light, you need to create and maintain the right environment for it. If you don’t use it in time, it’s going to expire, degrade, or become obsolete. For example, fan belts dry out and crack. Spare parts for an old fork lift become useless the instant the company sells the fork lift for scrap. When you have too much inventory, after paying for it, then paying to store it, you end up just throwing it away.

With inventory, too much is just as bad as too little. CMMS software helps you set the right levels for every material and spare part by looking at historical work orders, preventive maintenance schedules, and vendors’ lead times. You can find a sweet spot where you have the smallest amount on hand while never running out before the next shipment arrives just in time.

Inventory management has always been important, but with new and increasing strains on supply chains, you really need to make sure you have the right inventory controls in place. A few months ago, you could run out of a part and not worry too much about it because you knew you could get it sent overnight express. But now that might not be an option. As shipping companies focus solely on essential products, it is becoming more and more difficult to source parts and materials.

Schedule preventive maintenance with CMMS software

It’s simple. Downtime costs a lot of money. Preventive maintenance catches small issues before they have a chance to grow into big problems. That reduces the amount of downtime, and that cuts costs. 

Where does CMMS software come in? It makes it a lot easier to set up and follow a preventive maintenance schedule. Remember, your CMMS is going to be packed with data about your operations. When the database is first set up, it’s packed with data about your assets. Then every time someone generates or closes out a work order, the work order software captures all that data, too. Every important piece of data gets added.

And it can all get used. With that data, you can easily see not only which assets need more attention but also what type. For example, the conveyer belt has stopped working three times in the last two months. Every time it was because one of the belts had become misaligned. You can set a preventive work order for every few weeks to visually inspect and adjust the belt. Once the schedule is set, CMMS software makes it easier to follow. Every PM is right there on the calendar. You can even set the software to send out email reminders.


Regardless of how COVID-19 is affecting your organization, preventive maintenance can be an important part of the response. If you’re dealing with reduced production, you now have the time to invest in getting set up with a CMMS, putting you in a better position when things inevitably pick back up. Or, your organization might have been pushed into high gear to meet new, unexpected demand. Reducing downtime through preventive maintenance should be one of your main focuses.    

Get started with CMMS software

To understand CMMS software, you need to do more than read about it. To really get a feel for how it works and how it can work for your department, you need to see it in action.

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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