That's a good question, and it has a straightforward answer. In today's world, data is everything, and with the right work order management software, you can centralize, standardize, organize, share, protect, and leverage your data from anywhere, at any time. With the right work order software, you have complete control over your data. Your data works for you.
Work order software helps you centralize and standardize your data
If you don't have work order software yet, your data is likely just floating around, hard to find and difficult to combine. Take your maintenance manuals, for example. Back when you first got them, they were likely all together, neatly stacked on a shelf. Maybe you had them in the maintenance department's office. If the department has a workshop, maybe you kept them in there. But over time, a lot of them slowly disappeared. Even if you had all of them, how easily could you use them with your Preventive Maintenance program? Let's say you want to write a PM(Preventive Maintenance) related to changing the brake pads on a forklift. Step-by-step instructions, complete with helpful diagrams, are in the paper manuals, but there's no way for you include them in your spreadsheet-based PMs. It's like trying to watch a VHS cassette on a DVD player. Both are perfectly fine, but the formats don't work together.
So, without work order software, you lose a lot of your data, and what you do manage to hold onto is in a bunch of different formats, making it impossible to use together. But work order software, and here I mean just the process of setting it up, not even using it, helps you finally get all your data together in one spot, safely backed up and protect. And because everything is digital and inside the same piece of software, you can combine the data in useful ways. Basically, all your data is now on Blu-ray disks and your work order software is the latest Blu-ray player.
Work order software helps you organize data
Once your data is safely centralized and standardized, you can start keeping it organized.
Decide what data gets added through the request portal
Depending on your industry, you might have tickets coming in from a variety of sources. The maintenance department on a campus can have requests coming from students, teachers, and administrative staff. In a manufacturing plant, it might be from the people operating the assets. Regardless of where they're coming from, you need to sort through them, deciding which ones to accept and which to decline. Without work order software, tickets could be coming in over the phone, as attachments to emails, or on easy-to-misplace slips of paper. With work order software, requests all come in the same way, making it easy for you to sort through them and decide which to accept and which to decline.
Decide what data gets added to work orders
Once you've decided which tickets to approve, work order software lets you build data-packed work orders that include:
- digital schematics and interactive maps
- associated parts and materials
- digital maintenance manuals
- step-by-step instructions
- customizable checklists to ensure best practices
Everything technicians need to efficiently close out the work order is accessible from any desktop or mobile device. No more running back to the office to ask questions or double-check.
Work order software helps you share data
The word "share" here has a specific meaning, so it's worth taking the time to define it carefully. With work order management software, sharing is not the same as when you take a spreadsheet-based work order and send it to a technician as an email attachment. Remember, in the case of an email, you're not actually sharing data. Instead, you're making a copy of it, and sending the copy. You and the person who gets the email now have your own copies, but as soon as one of you makes a change to your file, you have unconnected versions. You have no idea what they're doing to their version, and they have no idea what you're doing to yours. But with work order management software, everyone is always looking at the same data. That's because there's only one copy in the database. It's like being in a movie theater. Everyone is looking at the same screen.
And here is the most important part: If anyone changes the data, it's updated in the work order management software in real-time. For example, if a work order gets closed out, everyone can see the new status. No one is making bad decisions based on out-of-date data.
There's no need to get too deep into the specifics, but a cool feature of work order software sharing is that you can control what different people get to see. So department heads might be able to see every piece of data, experienced technicians might see just the open work orders, while junior technicians might only be able to see the work orders specifically assigned to them. Work order software helps you truly share data. It also makes sure you're not oversharing.
Work order software helps you share data on the move with a mobile app
The introduction of maintenance apps has expanded the meaning of sharing. Because the apps live right on mobile devices and can tie directly into the hardware, there's now more to share, more ways to do it, and techs can capture and access data from anywhere—even when they're offline.
Find asset with bar code scanning
The right work order software solution helps you keep a lot of data about every asset, and apps create a fast, reliable way for techs to access all that data while on the go.
Using the mobile device's built-in camera, the technician can scan a bar code label on an asset for a comprehensive rundown of relevant data, including open on-demand and preventive maintenance work orders. Instead of guessing which of the identical, side-by-side air conditioning units they need to inspect, they know right away.
But real communication is always a two-way street. Modern maintenance apps make it easy for techs to reach out and connect with the team.
Share a thousand words with direct image uploads
The camera can be used for more than just scanning bar codes. Techs can quickly take a picture and then upload it directly to a work order. Here are three possible workflows with images.
A tech arrives at an asset but the required repairs are outside their experience and ability. Instead of running around looking for the maintenance manager or a more experienced coworker, the tech can take and upload a few images, with a request for advice. Because everyone on the team can see the work order, it's not long before someone sends along an explanation of what to do next.
Or, there are cases where the tech knows exactly what to do, and they want to document their work at critical stages. This is especially helpful when working on equipment where a lot of the parts are on top of one another. For example, an engine. As they disassemble, work on, and then reassemble the equipment, they can take and upload images, documenting their progress.
A third workflow involves a remote visual inspection. The tech can complete their work and upload an image. Once the maintenance manager has had a chance to review the images, they can approve the work and remotely close out the work order.
Capture reliable data with offline sync
Maintenance is a hands-on project, and technicians need to go where the assets are to work on them. And sometimes that means going where there's no Internet. It might be down into the second subbasement of a high rise, on top of a wind turbine, or inside the bowels of oil rig in the middle of the North Sea.
And when conditions are demanding, the last thing you want is for techs to feel like they need to juggle a bunch of numbers in their head, remembering how long they worked on an asset, the steps they took, and the parts and materials they used. With offline sync, even when they're disconnected from the Internet, they're still basically connected to the CMMS. Any data they enter into the app is safely stored on the mobile device until the app can sync with the central database in the cloud.
Work order software helps you protect your data
There's two ways to look at the idea of protection, and both of them are important.
Protect data from accidental loss
Modern work order management software is all cloud-based, which means the provider does all the technical heavy lifting for you behind the scenes. They do all the backing up of the data and patching and upgrading of the software. Because of the built-in back-ups, you never have to worry about losing your data. And because of the built-in security, you never have to worry about unauthorized access.
Protect data from eventual loss
In traditional paper- and spreadsheet-based systems, a lot of the most important data is locked up in the maintenance department's collective memory. All that hard-won, direct-experience-based know-how your technicians have in their heads. That boiler pipe that needs to be adjusted just so and the motor for the conveyor belt that eats any oil below a certain weight. The fan by the wielders that's always the first to go and the pump that needs to be checked after every 10,000 cycles, not every 30,000 like the manufacturer suggests. Without work order software, every retirement party is a mini disaster as all that information walks out the door.
But with work order software, all that data is safe inside the database. Once you have your experienced technicians help you write the work orders for your preventive maintenance program, that data is yours forever.
Work order software helps you leverage data
Now that you've got all your data in one place, can add to it and access it easily, and it's backed up and protected, you can start to really put it to work for you.
Good work order management software auto-generates reports, allowing you to track key KPIs. For example, you can see:
- Which machines are costing you the most to keep up and running
- Which technicians are closing out the most work orders per month
- What you're spending in parts and materials
For more on the KPIs work order software can deliver, check out our blog post Classic KPIs for CMMS ROI.
You can also use the data to set up a new preventive maintenance program or fine-tune an existing one. For example, by looking at all the work orders associated with an asset, you can determine which sorts of PMs you need and how often you need them.
If you don't have work order software, now's the time to get it. Start reaching out to providers and watching some live demos for all the CMMS Software. Make sure you go in with a list of features you want, but all the best features in the world can't make up for poor user experience design. If you can't easily find, learn, and use a feature, it might as well not even be there to begin with. It's like having a really nice car but not being able to find the keys. Now all you have is a very expensive sculpture. Also ask providers about what they have in place for customer support. Back to the car idea, you don't want to end up with a shiny new car you don't know how to drive.