Annmarie Bhola is a former engineer and the owner of Enhanced Building Solutions, LLC – EBS is committed to transforming the culture within the building industry through training and leadership.
With so much PM software to choose from, how do you make a decision? The reality is, it can be confusing, overwhelming, and just plain frustrating. As a decision maker, it’s up to you and whatever you choose, right or wrong, you have to live with it, and so does everyone else. Here are some pitfalls to avoid when you make your choice.
How it used to be done:
I don’t know exactly when the first preventative maintenance software was developed, but I do remember being introduced to one in 1999. It seemed like a great concept…
We had a database that listed every piece of equipment in our system. Each day (based on a recurring calendar schedule), a list populated with all the equipment that needed to be checked. We’d print out about 30 – 40 sheets, and each operator would get an equal number of sheets with a list of maintenance tasks to accomplish for the day.
After walking around with our clipboard and performing our work, smudging up the sheets with oil and dirt as we tried to write every detail, we would then have to come back to the control room and re-enter the data into a central computer. Oh the good ole days.
Sounds frustrating, right?
It was difficult to write the information down and explain all that was done. A picture would have said a thousand words, but at that time, that wasn’t an option. Not only did it take about a year to set up the system, we lost time every day when we manually logged the completed work in the database. All of us highly paid operators now had administrative responsibilities added on to our workday. As I reflect today, I realize how ineffective it really was.
Fortunately, today we live in an age where technology is growing, evolving, and creating ways to work smarter, not harder. Your job, as a decision maker, is to make sure you implement systems that actually help your team, rather than just pile on more work.
Stop and ask yourself the questions:
- What are we trying to accomplish?
- What information do we need?
- How user-friendly is it?
In the Preventative Maintenance world here’s what important:
- Knowing that my equipment has been serviced.
- Knowing when it was last looked at.
- Knowing what was done.
Period end of story!
Here are 3 suggestions on how to avoid wasting money while finding something that will actually improve your operations:
1. One Stop Shop
“Stop looking for one system that will do everything.”
Unless you have plans on building specific software yourself, it doesn’t exist. The goal is to focus on the results. The more you get hung up on having a system that covers every intricate detail, you overthink, you procrastinate, and the longer it takes to get started.
2. Wi-Fi or not to Wi-Fi
“Do I need Wifi for my mobile app to work?”
If you select software that doesn’t have a real mobile version, you’re not only falling behind the curve, you’re hurting your bottom line. Web apps that rely on constant Internet connection are hard to use and ignore the reality that many of the locations where PMs take place, don’t have consistent Internet connection. Web-based apps can do a lot of great things but if user-friendliness matters, then purchasing a software that has a native app version is the way to go.
3. We’ll build it ourselves!
“Let me know how that works out for you, in two years.”
In 2011, I was part of a team that built an internal app for a previous employer, and I learned first hand how expensive it is to do this. If you don’t have a dedicated full-time team that’s working on constantly improving your internal software, save your money!
Calculate your development time, programing costs, number of revisions, the debugging process and the list can go on and on…you will see that it just doesn’t make sense.
If you already have PM software, I challenge managers to ask your employees the following questions about your existing preventative maintenance system:
- How easy/difficult is it to enter data?
- How long does it take you to enter data?
- How easy/difficult is it to communicate the issue?
I promise, the answers to these discovery questions will increase communication and guide your decision-making.
I’ve had decision-makers ask me “why should you ask the operators their opinion? I’m paying for this!”
Here’s what I ask them: “Will the software system actually help your team, or does it slow them down?”
I know from personal experience, when I would present better ideas to my boss that would help my job and he didn’t listen, I was discouraged, and really didn’t care to perform my greatest.
So I tell managers now: listen to your operators, focus on what really matters, and don’t let all the bells and whistles fool you.
Concentrate on what you’re trying to achieve, think about who’s going to be using it, and consider how user-friendly the app is. If you stick to that, I’m sure you will make the best decision.
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