CMMS: Work out the kinks in maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, don’t underestimate the value of CMMS consulting and maintenance organization analysis.


A longtime client (a large facility) approached us about taking their CMMS to “the next level.” After holding meetings with the maintenance staff, we discovered frustration between the technicians and their supervisors about the basic functions of their CMMS. “We need the system to go faster,” was the common complaint of users during our meetings. I instantly wondered how effective they were in using the core functions of the system.

The client had been using the CMMS productively for years and had amassed tens of thousands of work orders (WOs) and related items. While the maintenance team had attended training soon after installation, few of the original users were still in the same “troop level” positions as a result of turnover and promotions within the organization. Unused (or under-used) training and support assistance had led to some poor user behaviors.

For example, routine preventive maintenance items (PMs) on 50-plus identical assets, which rarely warranted more than an acknowledgement of task completion, were each being closed individually by a single technician. While closing a single WO only takes seconds, multiply that by 50 and you’ve wasted nearly enough time to bring maintenance to a screeching halt. The one technician actually had a fairly easy option to close all 50 WOs at once directly within the software. As a result, this process was optimized: all of those extra clicks were reduced to one and all 50 WOs can now be closed in a few seconds rather than one at a time.

This example was just one of many areas in which operational use of the CMMS was enhanced as a result of analysis and training. Is the system any faster? The software is the same, the servers are the same, but users are now spending less time doing routine tasks with more available wrench time and maintenance planning. In the end, the users are faster and more efficient.

By assisting the client organization to focus on additional work order data, such as problem codes, cause codes, and more, we were able to guide them toward better analysis and, ultimately, better CMMS ROI. We were able to introduce a wider use of the CMMS so more employees could take advantage of capabilities beyond WOs and PMs, like planning for capital expenditures, managing replacement parts inventory, managing outside vendor repairs and contracts, meeting safety compliance, and so on.

The takeaway here is simple: don’t underestimate the value of CMMS consulting and maintenance organization analysis. What started out as a project to take things to “the next level” ended up as a cleanup/optimization project that allowed for a nice combination of both improving a client’s current maintenance operations while introducing software functionality for an overall improved customer experience.

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