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Facilities Management Software

Facilities management software is an integral tool to maintaining large networking operations.

The right facilities management software can keep a business running smoothly. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
The right facilities management software can keep a business running smoothly.

Facilities Management Software

Facilities management software is often called computerized maintenance management software or simply CMMS. CMMS has broad applications; there are programs designed to meet the needs of schools, medical facilities and industrial plants, to name a few. No matter what a software's niche, FacilitiesNet reports that the goal is streamlining maintenance operations. To do this, a CMMS program may track work orders, keep tabs on machine maintenance and generally monitor equipment performance.

Implementing facilities management software can be a long, costly proposition for an organization. In addition to installing the program, facilities managers must train staff to use it. Unless a program is fed the right data, it is practically useless. Sometimes this is a matter of choosing the right software, one that reflects the organization's current maintenance process. If it is successfully integrated into an organization's operations, CMMS can reduce labor and paperwork and increase equipment lifespan.

Questions to Consider

When choosing facilities management software, buyers should consider an organization's current IT capabilities can the department handle installing and maintaining a CMMS program? Managers should also decide whether their maintenance staff is tech-savvy enough to effectively use a particular program. Finally, managers should also evaluate their own budget and commitment, as implementing CMMS is costly. In addition to the program itself, the organization will need to invest in training. Maintenance staff will need to learn the program as they continue to carry out their normal duties, which will require either longer hours for the current staff or more people on staff to help with the workload.

Selecting a CMMS Program

Choosing the right CMMS program is the key to facilities maintenance success, so the decision should be approached in a systematic manner. FacilitiesNet recommends that an organization assemble an internal team of experts to decide precisely what is required from a facilities management program, solicit proposals from CMMS providers, and ultimately choose the most promising vendor.

When evaluating an organizations needs, the selection team might find it helpful to break possible CMMS features into three distinct categories. The most important are must-haves, without which a facilities management software program simply will not do. From there, the team can identify features a program should have. If a program lacks features on this list, the organization might be able to work around it. Finally, the team should list all the features software would ideally have. Items in this category would be great, but are not essential to a functioning facilities maintenance program.

Features to Consider

The Plant Maintenance Resource Center lists 50 questions buyers should ask when evaluating their needs. Some of these questions pertain to the work orders a particular program produces are they easy to read, and can they be printed easily? Does a program automatically formulate the cost of parts and labor? Does it record information about service calls?

Buyers might also look to the way in which a program handles maintenance history. For instance, consumers should check to see that a CMMS program can keep track of a detailed maintenance history, and whether the program can formulate a report on maintenance budget, staffing and equipment performance. Some programs track how often equipment fails and can calculate the average period between breakdowns, and how long it takes to repair equipment. Buyers should also evaluate how easy it is for maintenance staff to access these reports and enter data into the system.

A big part of CMMS is a program's predictive maintenance, or PM, capabilities. PM recommends equipment inspections and maintenance based on equipment age and history. For the program to be useful, mechanics should be able to input information from their inspections that is then incorporated into the PM report. It might also be useful if the program can notify staff when a proposed repair is more costly than a breakdown.

Finding Facilities Management Software Vendors

Once an organization has a report detailing what it needs CMMS to do, it can then start soliciting offers from facilities management software vendors. The right software provider will depend heavily on the size of the organization, the extent of its maintenance operation and the type of equipment it owns. Forbes.com maintains a directory of facilities management software, searchable by feature whether the program offers reporting and data importing, and whether parts of it are customizable.

Many buyers look for industry-specific solutions. For instance, the National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities has a comprehensive database of studies and articles on implementing CMMS in schools. PlantServices.com, which reports on industrial processes, has a comprehensive review section that discusses industry specialization and CMMS.

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