Yes, those really are objectives for your department and your CMMS. Here's why: If you want to master maintenance management, you need more than just the right combination of features and workflows. You also need good technicians. Who else can help you set up and fine-tune efficient workflows? Who else can roll up their sleeves and do the hands-on work? Here are some ideas on how to build the right team and how the right CMMS software solution makes it easier.
Before looking at the how, it's important to understand why you need the best possible maintenance technicians and why it's so hard to find them.
Why finding the best maintenance technicians is critical
It's a perfect example of that old saying about the right tool for the right job. If you need assets and equipment maintained or fixed, you need to hire someone good at maintaining and fixing assets and equipment.
The idea feels so intrinsically true that just watching a team come together can be immensely satisfying. That's why so many Hollywood movies have a "getting the team together" montage. Based on a quick poll of our offices, here are the Hippo favorites:
The Blues Brothers is 95% just them traveling around "getting the band back together," and it's a cinematic classic.
Like a lot of things in movies, they make it all look so easy. But in real life, for maintenance departments across industries, attracting and training maintenance technicians is getting harder and harder.
Why finding the best maintenance technicians is tough
The problem stems from a combination of changing attitudes and aging demographics.
Even in places where there are lots of maintenance technician jobs available, there's been a cultural shift, and now everyone wants a college degree. Mike Rowe, famous for his work on Deadliest Catch and Dirty Jobs, traces the problem back to how we see blue-collar jobs and how we have, as a culture, devalued working with your hands and your head in favor of sitting and staring at screens. Rowe explains:
"Pop culture has glorified the 'corner office job' while unintentionally belittling the jobs that helped build the corner office... Millions of well-intended parents and guidance counselors see apprenticeships and on-the-job training opportunities as 'vocational consolation prizes,' best suited for those not cut out for the brass ring: a four-year degree."
Now when senior technicians retire, there's no one coming up to take their place. The supply of good technicians keeps getting smaller while demand stays the same or increases. The result is that even if you had a great team, you'd be in constantly increasing danger of losing it.
So, what are the concrete steps you can take to find and keep the best people for the maintenance department? And how does CMMS software help?
Nurture new talent with internships and apprenticeships and CMMS software
Start with a few quick phone calls to local trade schools to learn about existing internship programs or to set up new ones. Trade schools love providing students real-world experience, so they're always happy to hear from companies in related fields. They'll want to know about your organization, who you already have on the team, what sorts of work you can have students do, and what level of oversight and feedback you can provide.
Here's where have facility management software helps you get the best possible interns and apprentices. Remember, the students are future technicians, not future historians. They're interested in opportunities to work with newer technology, not older paper- or spreadsheet-based systems. Having a modern, cloud-based work order management system makes your organization a more attractive option for both the trade schools and their students.
Depending on your industry, you might not have to reach out to trade schools at all. For example, the National Automobile Dealers Association created the NADA Foundation to encourage people to become service technicians. If an organization or governing body in your industry has a pre-existing system, all you need to do it tap into it.
Attract new talent with CMMS software
That covers the steps you can take to work with future technicians. But what about the latest batch of graduates? You need to make yourself an attractive option, and adopting modern technologies and maintenance strategies is a great way to do that.
Remember those famous perks from Google? The tech giant is famous for offering employees:
- Gourmet dishes in the cafeteria
- Indoor slides throughout the facilities
- Onsite, roaming massage therapists
- Daily rides to and from the office
- Extended time off for passion projects
Those are the ones everyone remembers, but they're not the only ones that help Google attract and hold onto talent. According to this report, people love being able to bring their dogs to the office, but they also really love all the cool tech they get to play with at work.
Adopting equipment management software proves to recent trade-school grads that they:
- are supported by the organization and seen as worth the investment.
- can build skills they can use throughout their careers. Working with modern solutions means they're not falling behind other graduates.
- will keep up with industry trends. No one wants to find themselves stuck with the same process and workflows from now until the day they retire.
We've covered future and freshly minted maintenance technicians, but what about the ones already on the team?
Build up the talent you already have
Invest in your current technicians with the right training and certification. Here are some of the popular options.
Certified Maintenance & Reliability Technician (CMRT)
Managed by the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP), it's a comprehensive certification covering general maintenance management, covering maintenance practices, preventative and predictive maintenance, troubleshooting and analysis, and corrective maintenance.
Certified Maintenance & Reliability Professional (CMRP)
Also from the SMRP, this one covers business and management, equipment reliability, manufacturing process reliability, organization and leadership, and work management. Accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Certified Facility Manager (CFM)
International Facility Management Association (IFMA) trains workers on the technical specifics of facility maintenance and also leadership and operational concepts. The organization offers a wide variety of educational opportunities.
Certified Plant Engineer (CPE)
Capture and safeguard all that knowledge with CMMS software
We've looked at technicians-to-be, recent grads, and your current technicians. There's only one more group we need to cover: senior, closer-to-retirement-age technicians.
With this group, you need to make sure they don't take all their hard-won wisdom with them when they leave. Because what's the point of investing heavily in your maintenance team only to see all your hard work disappear over time? With the right facility management software, you can collect and safeguard all your organization's SOPs and best practices, ensuring long-lasting ROI on the investments you've made to build up the maintenance team.
Let's run through just a few of the CMMS software features that help you capture and keep maintenance know-how.
Data-packed work orders and PMs
With old-fashioned paper- and spreadsheet-based systems, you're always struggling to find enough space on work orders. There's only so much you can scribble onto a single sheet of paper, cram into a spreadsheet cell. Modern work order management software makes it easy to include everything technicians need to close out efficiently, including:
- Comprehensive repair and maintenance histories
- Digital images, schematics, O&M manuals, and warranties
- Associated inventory
- Interactive site plans and floor maps
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
And those last two are where you're able to collect and safeguard all your team's know-how. For common repairs and PMs in the preventive maintenance software, you can have the more senior techs write out comprehensive instructions and checklists. Because the software can save these inside templates, it only takes a few clicks to include everything in future on-demand and preventive maintenance work orders.
Task and work order comments
But even the best sets of instructions and checklists can't cover every single variable, and there are times when a technician needs to reach out and get some advice on a task or repair. Traditionally, techs have two options, one bad and one worse. They can stop what they are doing and start walking around the facility, trying to track down someone to help. Even in a smaller facility, finding a senior technician or the maintenance lead wastes a lot of time. Add to that the time the senior tech now has to spend away from their work. The second option is worse. Instead of tracking down help, technicians can always wing it, leaving the organization open to costly unscheduled downtime and unexpected repairs.
Task comments allow technicians to communicate with the maintenance lead directly from anywhere. Using their mobile device, they can add comments to work orders and tasks, asking questions, requesting clarification, or explaining their suggested solution. They have the advantage of having senior staff looking over their shoulder, right away and from anywhere.
Direct image uploads for virtual visual inspections
This feature highlights the use of mobile maintenance apps, and how they leverage a mobile device's built-in features, including the camera. Once a task has been completed, a technician can quickly upload a digital image of their work to the work order, where the maintenance lead or a senior member of the team can review it before closing it out. In fact, the department can set up the asset management software so that only certain members of the team can close out work orders, ensuring that more experienced eyes have a chance to review all the work.
The best way to get the maintenance team you want is to build it yourself. You need to nurture the next generation through internships and apprenticeships, attract the best grads by offering the right perks, build up your team with educational opportunities, and finally safeguard all that hard-won know-how.
And the right CMMS solution makes every step of the process easier.
If you've been thinking of upgrading to modern asset management, or if you already have a CMMS but it's not living up to what you were promised, now is the time to reach out and start talking with providers. You deserve an efficient team, and that team needs the right software.