Compliance poses unique challenges for organizations because of the complexity of the rules, the severity of being caught out of compliance, and the need for coordination across departments. And at the start, when first trying to tackle compliance, it can be hard to even separate fact from fiction. More than any other aspect of asset management, compliance tends to have the most associated myths.
Let's go through them one at a time and see which ones need busting.
Myth: Every industry has its own governing body in charge of compliance just for that industry
Although a lot of compliance requirements are industry specific, there are both government agencies and private organizations that cover multiple types of workplaces. For example, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets safety standards for most private sector and some public sector workplaces across all 50 states. Interesting side note: although OSHA coverage applies across industries, it does not apply to operations of all sizes. For example, a small farm is exempt as long as all the workers are related. But once that family-run farm hires unrelated employees, the entire farm falls under OSHA rules.
At the same time, organizations in the same industry but different locations are can be covered by different rules. In Canada, for example, there are fourteen jurisdictions, federal, provincial, and territorial, each with its own set of workplace health and safety legislation. So, a dairy farm in Manitoba follows a different set of rules than one in Saskatchewan. The most famous example of cross-border compliance is the European Union, where 28 countries have agreed on a shared set of regulations to make it easier to trade goods and services.
Conclusion: myth busted
Myth: Becoming compliant is like getting through high school math. You do it once, and then it never really comes up again
Compliance is an ongoing effort, and it's possible to achieve compliance and then lose it. In fact, there are two common ways to fall out of compliance. The first is by not keeping up with compliance schedules. If you install machine guarding around potentially dangerous equipment, you can be in compliance with local safety regulations. But if you fail to maintain them, you eventually fall out.
The second way a company can fall out of compliance is when the rules change. For example, the Canadian government recently introduced new regulations for food processors. The explanation behind the changes: "The existing control system has served us well, but it was developed decades before the creation of the CFIA, when most Canadian food originated in Canada, food technology was less evolved, and supply chains were simple." Another example is OSHA's new guidelines for companies that are reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies remain legally responsible for providing a safe work environment, but the dangers have evolved, and companies need to adapt.
Conclusion: myth busted
Myth: Once you get software that's compliant, you're all set
It depends. In some cases, it's the software itself that must meet specific standards. Examples might be software and networks that handle sensitive military, government, or medical information.
But it's also common that the software is not compliant but instead supports compliance. That means that for some standards, the CMMS software is not compliant, but the systems and schedules it supports help organizations achieve compliance. For example, a manufacturing plant has to meet or surpass a specific level of air quality throughout the facility, and the most efficient way to do this is to have the maintenance team regularly inspect, repair, and replace the HVAC system. A good CMMS helps with inventory control, so the right parts and materials are always available. On top of that, it lets the maintenance lead set up and schedule a preventive maintenance program. PMs are automatically generated, assigned, and tracked through the CMMS. With autogenerated reports and detailed asset histories, the department can make important repair-or-replace decisions that keep the HVAC system running smoothly with the least amount of wasted time, effort, money, and frustration.
For a deeper dive into how this works, check out How Your Maintenance Team Can Avoid OSHA Violations. It does a great job of explaining how CMMS software helps organizations meet OSHA requirements.
Conclusion: myth sort of depends on which standards you're focusing on
Myth: You only need to worry about compliance that's mandatory
The wording is a bit tricky here. Worry? Yes, you should only worry about mandatory compliance. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't care about voluntary standards. Some of them offer a lot of benefits, and for asset-heavy industries, a great example is ISO 55000, a three-part set of standards for every aspect of asset management. ISO 5500 covers the principles and terminology. ISO 55001 deals with the requirements, while ISO 55002 layouts out general recommendations for applying the ideas in ISO 5500. The good news is that everyone refers to the three separate sections collectively as ISO 5500, making it a lot easier to remember. On top of the benefits of a properly planned and executed asset management plan, adopting these standards helps organizations prove they're serious about delivering value to customers and shareholders.
For facility managers, a good example of voluntary standards delivering value is the LEED program, an internationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction, and operation of buildings. The standards are high, but meeting them creates a lot of new efficiencies. There are also marketing opportunities for your organization.
Conclusion: myth busted
Myth: CMMS software makes compliance much easier
Finally, we get to one that's true. A good CMMS solution makes it a lot easier to become and stay compliant. And remember, compliance has two parts: being compliant and proving you're compliant. CMMS software helps you with both.
Conclusion: myth confirmed
Document procedures and adopt best practices with CMMS software
Often, compliance is all about doing things the right way, and good facility management software makes that a lot easier. With paper- or spreadsheet-based methods, there's always the challenge of getting in enough information. How many instructions can you scribble on a piece of paper? How many readable digital images can you can get into a spreadsheet cell?
With maintenance management software, you can pack work orders with everything technicians need to complete task properly, including:
- Step-by-step instructions
- Customizable checklists
- Complete maintenance and repair histories
- Digital images, schematics, O&M manuals
- Associate parts and materials
- Interactive site and floor maps
Those first two are the important ones here. Instead of having each tech do everything slightly differently, you can ensure everyone is following best practices.
In fact, before they close out work orders, you can have technicians upload pictures of their completed work for remote visual inspection and approval.
Control inventory with CMMS software
And often, compliance is about getting things done within a certain amount of time, and nothing stops you deader in your tracks than not having the right part or material when you need it. Maintenance management software work orders come packed with information, including associated parts and materials, and when technicians close out a work order, the maintenance management software automatically adjusts the related inventory levels. Then, when an inventory level dips below the customizable par level, the software sends you an alert so you can contact your vendor and place an order. Long before you run out, you're stocked back up, ready for on-demand repairs and routine maintenance.
Another benefit: with a lot of facility management software, most of process is done from inside the software. No more switching between programs or having to chase down contact information. The built-in purchase order module means you can take care of everything quickly.
Set up and schedule preventive maintenance with CMMS software
Remember, compliance is an ongoing challenge, and nothing meets that sort of challenge better than a carefully planned and consistently followed preventive maintenance program. Maintenance management software helps you set up the program, follow it, and make adjustments as needed.
First, the software contains all your asset information, including repair and maintenance histories. Using that data, you can see when to set up PMs and which tasks to focus on. If assets are relatively new, you can always rely on manufacturers' recommendations, but if you've been running them for a while, it makes more sense to look at your data when creating your schedule. For example, you might have a pump that overheats about once every three months. Set a PM to visually inspect and add lubricant every two and a half months.
Second, once your schedule is set up, the software auto-generates PM work orders when they're due. Because everything is right there on the calendar view, nothing gets missed. Work gets done when it's scheduled, not when someone finally remembers to do it.
Third, making adjustments is quick and easy with drag and drop. Need to increase the frequency of the sanitation schedule because of COVID-19? It only takes a few clicks to update your data in real-time; everyone stays in the loop.
Auto-generate reports for audits with CMMS software
Compliance always has two parts. First, you have to do the work to meet the requirements. Second, you need to prove you did the work. Maintenance management software keeps your data accurate, safe, and searchable. It also leverages it into graph- and KPI-rich reports.
If the department gets audited, you have everything you need to show all the work you did, including dates, times, who did what and how they did it.
Myth: There's no rush when it comes to compliance
With mandatory compliance, organizations run the risk of penalties, financial liability, and loss of reputation. And with voluntary compliance, they're losing out of all the benefits of adopting best practices. The right time to start focusing on compliance was yesterday. The second best time is right now.
If you are looking for CMMS software to help you achieve your compliance goals, start reaching out to providers. They can help you find the right solution for your organization not only for compliance but all your asset management needs.
Conclusion: get a CMMS solution