Case Study: To Upgrade or Replace?

case studyThe challenge
When a large Texas school district learned that their CMMS software was no longer going to be supported, they were faced with the dilemma of upgrading their FM software or replacing it with another off-the-shelf CMMS. The district, which maintains over 70 facilities across 55 campuses, had been using their CMMS software for a long time and were comfortable with it, but there were several components they felt didn’t work well for them, particularly reporting and dashboards. There was building pressure to abandon their existing CMMS and utilize the maintenance module of the installed ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) that the Finance Department was utilizing.

The Solution
Ensoft conducted a general review and assessment of the district’s FM operations and helped them clarify their vision for the department. Ensoft reviewed the various alternatives and based on the analysis recommended that upgrading their current software would best fit the district’s long-term objectives. Once the client decided to upgrade, Ensoft helped with the upgrade process and stayed engaged to assist with configuration, rollout and training of the upgraded CMMS software.

DistrictQuoteThe Result
The district’s FM department is now operating in a very proactive mode. With increased functionality and advanced reporting and dashboards, their CMMS system and its reporting dashboards are more relevant and part of the employees’ daily routines.

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Complimentary Webinar: Optimizing Your Preventative Maintenance Program – Start from Where You Are!

Ensoft Webinar Header

If you’re like most organizations, you’re probably performing some level of preventive maintenance (PM) on your buildings and equipment. And, like most organizations, you probably feel your PM can be improved and made more effective. Whether you are looking to get more out of your Preventive Maintenance program or just looking to get your PM program off the ground, this complimentary webinar offers best practice solutions for setting up an effective PM program.

During the webinar, we will review:

  • Building blocks of a PM System in your CMMS
  • Data required for PM program setup
  • Tips for optimizing and improving your PM program
  • Keeping your PM system updated
  • Optimizing your PM program over time

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Is Your CMMS Taking You in the Right Direction?

too-many-choicesAre you getting the most out of your CMMS system? In most cases, you’re not. And you’re not alone.

Most organizations implementing CMMS have achieved some level of process improvements, but not much else. Reporting from the system is often limited and supervisors seldom use the system for more than assigning work orders and closing them out. During implementation, there is often too much focus on software capabilities, not enough on management improvements and business practices. Today’s FM software is complex, with ever-increasing functionality. During implementation it’s very easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles and lose sight of what’s really important. For example, after implementing a CMMS, many organizations often find that they can’t develop desired reporting or pursue certain high priority improvement initiatives. Why? The CMMS was not setup to enable it. During implementation, there was no deliberate and meaningful effort to link the software setup with management strategies.

Today’s top FM organizations are using their CMMS to achieve a high level of proactiveness within their departments. CMMS is being used as a strategic tool, not just a maintenance operating tool. Process improvement is only one of the many goals to be pursued during a CMMS implementation. To do it right, your departmental objectives should drive your software decisions, not the other way around. To ensure a successful CMMS installation, you should:

1) Define and document your objectives (be specific!)
2) Determine how you’ll monitor the department towards achieving your objectives (performance metrics)
3) Determine CMMS requirements to enable your defined objectives

Use a change management approach to user rollout. During training sessions be sure to emphasize desired new management practices and objectives. Don’t just train on software features. The features are useful and value-adding, but make sure your key objectives are at the forefront of your CMMS implementation.

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Ensoft to Host Complimentary CMMS Webinar

Strategic Alignment of Your CMMS
Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Today, organizations are spending a lot of money implementing facilities maintenance software, but are achieving little or no ROI from their investment. During this complimentary webinar we’ll review a roadmap to bucking the trend.


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5 Things Every Facilities Manager Should Know About Their Operations

Changing-Light-Bulb-Guy8 hours to change a light bulb! It sounds like a punch line to a joke, but for facilities managers time is money. In order to effectively manage maintenance operations, facilities managers must be able to understand – and communicate – what’s going on in their organization. Benchmarking and accurate reporting are key to managing the organization’s resources, the effectiveness of current operations, improving productivity and making effective, data-driven decisions.

You can’t effectively manage what you can’t measure. Otherwise, how do you know if your facility and resources are performing well? Here are 5 things you should be keeping an eye on.

1. Labor utilization and work management. Labor is a large expense for any organization and an area in which time and again facilities managers are asked to reduce costs and/or increase productivity. It’s not enough to simply manage labor hours and work orders. True labor analysis must factor in number of productive hours, staffing ratios and various work order management indices. Tracking and analyzing work order completion and aging rates can also help to determine current trends and future scheduling needs. For example, we had one client who audited their work orders and discovered an employee was routinely logging 8 hours to change one light bulb. Was this a case of an unproductive employee? Or did further analyses bring to light special materials, equipment and other factors unique to this situation? (It didn’t.)

2. Maintenance activity. It’s hard to believe but many typical maintenance activities are unnecessary. This includes routine equipment checks and preventative maintenance on equipment that doesn’t need it. Many best practices organizations have moved beyond preventative maintenance (by which equipment is serviced on a calendar, or run-time, basis) to predictive maintenance (by which equipment conditions are monitored and maintenance is scheduled based on a prediction of when a problem is most likely to occur). Other factors that can impact maintenance activity costs, productivity and scheduling are the type of repair needed (impacting labor utilization and work management), location of repair (are repairs being clustered by area or are techs being sent across campus and back) and volume of repairs needed.

3. Inventory spending. It is not uncommon for an organization to have a workflow management system that does not include inventory control. For example, we worked with a large university client who was not using any type of inventory control. If a part was used, it was automatically re-ordered. Multiple departments across campus each housed their own inventory supply closet in addition to parts aboard various maintenance trucks and those housed within the maintenance department. When we created a centralized inventory system, they were shocked at the sheer volume of parts they had on hand, not to mention the waste of resources. Inventory control helps to keep a lid on inventory spending by creating a system to determine what’s in stock, what parts need to be regularly ordered (or automatically re-ordered) and which parts are special-use and do not require an automatic re-order.

4. Asset replacement forecasts. It’s time to put away the pen and paper and make sure your facilities management software can generate the reports you need to determine asset replacement costs. These determinations can be cumbersome – comparing multiple performance criteria, such as modality, model, location, department, risk category and more – but using evidence-based data can help you make smarter replacement decisions. These forecasts can also help identify and prioritize where repairs, renovations or replacements are required.

5. Costs of maintenance. Key factors in determining costs of maintenance include labor, materials, vendors, equipment and warranty expenses. In addition, it’s important to understand how the assets are performing relative to others. For example, we worked with a client who had a large fleet of pickup trucks, which was comprised of 5 and 10 year models, each from 2 different manufacturers. At first glance, the 10 year old trucks had slightly higher costs of maintenance in the last year than the 5 year old models. However, when they analyzed the cost of maintenance over the life of the vehicles, they were surprised to learn that the 5 year old trucks cost far more to maintain and repair than their 10 year old counterparts, not to mention the increased downtime from the greater frequency of repairs. The 5 year old trucks were lemons compared to their 10 year old counterparts.

Ensoft Consulting is a customer-focused, minority-owned consulting firm utilizing real-world experience to provide clients with software and operations solutions to move their organization forward.

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Facilities Operations Best Practices

arrowIn today’s budget-conscious environment, process improvements alone will not move an organization forward. A deeper culture shift is necessary. With advancing technology and FM software capabilities, the industry best practices for facilities operations is trending to a more streamlined and improvement-oriented facilities approach.

Armed with mobile technology and advanced FM software features, facility directors are looking for ways to elevate their departments within their organizations. To do this, the best organizations in the industry are becoming more proactive, not just with process improvements and preventive maintenance, but by changing the organizational culture to one of continuous improvement and proactiveness. They are realizing that a proactive approach is much more than a preventive maintenance or inspection program. It is a mindset…a way of life. Below are some general proactive initiatives and best practices being used with success by some of today’s leading facilities organizations:

  • Frequent customer meetings and punch list requests
  • Regular management reporting and work review
  • Equipment and work analysis
  • Automated exception reporting (alerts)
  • Managing spare parts availability
  • Operating reports automatically generated and distributed
  • Proactive exception notifications (alerts from CMMS) to managers and staff
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Rethinking the Role of CMMS

phoneCMMS software is a useful and popular tool to handle work orders and asset management. However, for many organizations, complacency has set in. Work orders are being tracked and completed, processes seem to be working…everything seems to be “fine”.

In recent years, we have seen an awakening of sorts. Facility managers are exploring ways to use their CMMS as a MANAGEMENT tool, rather than just a workflow tool. They are looking for activity reports, cost tracking, efficient scheduling, and more. This shift in thinking is evidenced by three major changes we see taking place in how CMMS systems are being used today:

1. CMMS reports being used as tools for day-to-day decision-making
2. Widespread use of CMMS throughout the FM department
3. Mobile solutions used by management and technicians

CMMS and Decision-Making
For many years, CMMS software has been an integral component of the facilities operations. However, the systems have been primarily used as a workflow tool. The focus has been on operational efficiencies and process improvements. CMMS software is now being utilized more and more as an actual management tool. Facility managers are screaming for data and reports from their CMMS. Among other things, they are looking for operating information and asset performance data. We expect CMMS software usage to continue evolving as an integral component of operations and management workflows while also playing a pivotal role in providing managers with operating information for day-to-day decision-making.

Department-Wide Use of CMMS
In the past, CMMS software was used by a small handful of administrative staff within a facilities organization. Aside from these few administrators, user interaction with the CMMS was typically limited to work order entry and closeout. Many organizations are now instituting widespread use of the software by all facilities employees for their day-to-day tasks. Technicians are expected to utilize CMMS data for analysis and equipment monitoring. Supervisors are using the CMMS for labor scheduling and workload balancing. Managers are starting to utilize the CMMS for financial budgeting and operations analysis. The CMMS is beginning to take the shape of a true enterprise system rather than just a work order processing tool.

Mobile Technology
It is abundantly clear that mobile CMMS solutions can add value to the organization. Among other benefits, they enable better point-of-use access to information, better response times, and improved workflow efficiencies. Until recently, one of the main barriers from implementing mobile solutions has been cost. Specifically, the perceived benefits of a mobile solution did not outweigh the implementation costs. Now, with the availability of smart phones and tablets at significantly lower costs, facility managers are eager to evaluate and implement a mobile solution for themselves and for their maintenance technicians, supervisors, and inspectors. Mobile CMMS solutions in the facilities environment are steadily becoming the norm, and they are no longer just for the field technicians.

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Tackling the Hidden Costs in Facility Operations

Hidden FeesOrganizations have considerable money invested in real estate and facilities assets. Yet facilities management is viewed by many as a cost center or just a maintenance function. With shrinking budgets, facility managers are repeatedly asked to streamline operations and reduce the expense of facilities maintenance.

The difficulty in any general cost-cutting initiative is identifying and eliminating the non-productive excessive costs that can be cut. The tendency is to search for quick-hit, big-ticket cost reductions that won’t adversely affect operations. In most facilities departments, these big-ticket items don’t exist. And, when they do, they will typically only provide a one-time cost savings that doesn’t really reduce your ongoing budgets.

To truly reduce budget needs, facility managers need to implement true and sustainable cost reduction strategies. This type of cost reduction involves identifying where excessive costs are leaking and closing the leaks. These slow cost “leaks” are your hidden costs. On your budget lines, they look normal. However, with some analysis, you’ll often find cost reduction opportunities in them. By identifying and reducing these hidden costs, you can enable and achieve long-term budget reductions.

By digging deep into a few specific areas of the facilities operation, facility managers will be surprised to learn that a good portion of their shrinking budget dollars is being spent on various non-productive hidden costs. Below are examples of some common hidden costs found in most facilities operations:

  • Purchasing and carrying cost of excessive spare parts inventory.
  • Labor time spent following inefficient and redundant processes.
  • Labor and materials cost of performing repairs on equipment under warranty.
  • Labor and materials cost of performing preventive maintenance work too frequently.
  • Equipment costs incurred because of inadequate equipment maintenance procedures – causing unnecessary breakdowns, costly repairs, or avoidable replacements.
  • Excessive administrative costs gathering operating information and compiling management reports.
  • Labor and materials cost of performing billable off-the-record work for customers, but not recapturing the costs.

Sustainable cost-reduction is not easy and it doesn’t happen overnight. For a facility manager to initiate and successfully implement cost-cutting measures, they must first understand their current operations. They must have access to operating information which typically comes in the form of reporting from their Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS). Most CMMS software available on the market today has the inherent ability to provide the needed information. Most often, what’s missing is the availability of useful management reports.

With the right analytical information and reports from the CMMS, a facility manager will better understand their operations and can start identifying and initiating improvement efforts targeted at the various hidden costs.

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Best Practices – CMMS Implementation

BestPracticesThere is a strong drive in the facilities operations industry to implement automated workflows and other sophisticated technology available with newer CMMS software. The newer systems on the market today allow for customized dashboards, automated reporting, custom workflow designers, and other best-in-class features. These are excellent value-adding features, but they must be implemented with a purpose.

Best-in-class organizations today are not implementing sophisticated technology too quickly. They are implementing desired features over time, as the need for it becomes apparent. Some general best practice philosophies are listed below:

  • Implement technology to provide point-of-use information access (i.e. mobile capabilities for technicians, tablets/laptops for custodial leads, workstations for storeroom clerks, etc.)
  • Use newer workflow technology to automate processes where appropriate to achieve standardization, but don’t let the software dictate decision-making. When implementing automated workflows, first define specific improvements to be achieved, then implement the CMMS workflow features to enable and support the desired improvements.
  • Processes should be implemented such that they are not perceived as a series of distinct steps to be taken. Rather, processes should be simply viewed as the natural flow of day-to-day tasks.
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