Computerized maintenance management systems

CMMS offers benefits beyond operational efficiencies
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
By Ryan Gallimore

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) assists property managers in the daily coordination of repair efforts. With the emergence of cloud-based “software as a service,” an online CMMS has emerged, allowing residents, managers and contractors to access the software from anywhere. With this new model, residents may submit a service request quickly and easily from their desktop computer or mobile device.

A CMMS presents an online form to the resident to complete, auto-assigns the work according to a predetermined assignment list and sends an e-mail to the relevant parties: management, service provider and resident.

By delegating maintenance dispatching to a CMMS, management companies relieve the pressure of administrative tasks related to maintenance. The system assumes the task of collecting initial request details, job assignment and notification.

As work is performed, a CMMS maintains a database of work history, which often includes a complete record of correspondence between staff and service providers, uploaded documents, images, purchase orders and invoices.

By acting as an automated maintenance assistant, a CMMS improves maintenance performance beyond the capacity of paper and spreadsheets.

Managing job backlog is a critical issue for management companies. A proactive approach ensures jobs are completed as efficiently as possible before they are lost in the flood of incoming requests. Automated request assignment dispatches jobs without delay. Quick reporting on outstanding items, easy searching and prioritization permits identification of critical issues. The result is a more sophisticated triaging process that better responds to resident needs.

A building’s preventive maintenance plan works in tandem with a CMMS scheduler to guarantee key building components are maintained on a regular basis. E-mail or text message reminders are sent out prior to scheduled work to notify trades in advance. Some solutions notify residents prior to entry into their unit.

Incomplete or inaccurate job information delays work. Each electronic work order in the system includes all the information required for a job to be completed. Trades need not call managers for additional information, nor are managers required to contact residents.

Leveraging the data collected from maintenance requests, a CMMS generates reports such as average response and completion times, and service requests by unit or common area. An analysis of these reports helps to identify and eliminate inefficiencies.

With a more streamlined maintenance workflow, management companies spend less time coordinating maintenance activities. This increases the capacity of the organization and allows staff to pursue business development goals, all while reducing costs.

Managers are able to do more business with existing resources. Maintenance management consumes up to 40 per cent (or two full days per week) of staff time. Transferring part of this burden to a computerized system frees staff to attend to existing clients’ needs.

A CMMS reduces staff costs by absorbing the role of request taker, dispatcher and communicator. Management effectively outsources these tasks to an automated system. Staff that used to answer phones, follow up on faxes and e-mails, maintain spreadsheets and route these requests to service providers can be used elsewhere.

Online CMMS may use e-mail or text messaging to communicate with users. This is often done whenever the information in the service request changes. For example, if a new issue is raised or a comment is posted, an e-mail is sent to the submitter of the request and the person assigned to resolve the problem. The CMMS can often generate the e-mail content instantly from a template. This is a much cheaper and time efficient way of informing residents than paper work orders that must be filled out and delivered individually.

Businesses also save on paper products, postage and filing time by communicating electronically. Utilizing services that are environmentally conscious also benefit an organization’s corporate image.

Operational reporting provides a picture of maintenance activities and how maintenance dollars are spent. It is also an opportunity to demonstrate cost-savings.

A CMMS increases confidence in management’s ability to coordinate maintenance. A company offering a technological solution to maintenance coordination over paper and spreadsheets has a competitive advantage when approaching new clients or reinforcing relationships with existing customers.

The property management industry has few barriers to entry. Because of this, companies in this business need to focus on being as efficient and effective as possible in all their operations.

A CMMS assists management in this goal. A technology that introduces efficiencies puts an organization in a low barrier market space at an advantage.

Armed with an automated maintenance assistant, the property management company is a healthier organization. It has the tool, credibility, additional time and resources to better serve existing clients, reduce costs and pursue new avenues of business.

Ryan Gallimore is president of Spire Software, which makes CondoHub, a maintenance management solution for condominiums.

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