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The Maintenance Management Blog

July 07, 2022

The Functions of a CMMS

When I hear the term 'business function,' I think of business luncheons where deals are discussed and agreements negotiated. In this case, 'function' is a specific event rather than a broader concept. A luncheon could be part of, or all of the points discussed below.

I look to a short article from CommercePK for these points. Other articles might have other ideas of what functions a business has, but these five are a good beginning. In addition, these can be shown to be functions of a computerized maintenance management system. (CMMS)

Image: a collection of clocks1. Organizing Function

"I would like to see anyone, prophet, king or God, convince a thousand cats to do the same thing at the same time." ― Neil Gaiman

I thought the quote apropos. Sometimes a supervisor feels like he's trying to herd cats, not just dealing with employees, but in other areas where things seem out of control.

Spreadsheets used to be the way to stay organized. However, a time came when businesses needed more. The basic organization from a spreadsheet wasn't enough.

How does a computerized maintenance management system function as an organizer?

Preventive maintenance. With spreadsheets, you couldn't add too many details without them looking cluttered. You input basic information and worked from there. With a CMMS, there's an entire PM menu including setting cycles, generating work orders from PMs, and a plethora of PM-related reports.

The menu should be organized to get you organized. When creating lists of equipment, inventory, cost centers, etc., the tabs and options should be laid out logically. Create your PMs with minimal information. Then you decide how detailed to be. Can you add labor details (crews, crafts, shifts, job steps), any material and tools needed, attachments for clarification, and more? Your PMs are organized for easy viewing. Double click one to bring up the information.

Work Orders – Spreadsheets couldn't organize work orders. You might have emailed a job, texted, or handed out paper notes. A quality CMMS lets you create work requests ("Found a florescent light hanging by one cord. We probably should fix this.") and initiate work orders. ("Bob, fix the hanging light.") In each of these areas, again, everything is organized for efficiency, letting you detail as much as you want about the job. From work order types to priorities, site/zones, submitted dates, and attachments. ("Here's an image of the hanging light.")

Beyond work requests and orders, the system needs to provide numerous ways to track them, even after they're completed. Since many of the jobs will be PMs, can you reuse work orders? Of course, as with everything, plenty of reports to stay organized.

Checklists – One of the best ways to be organized. Don't let Bob guess in what order to do the job, show him a list. This is similar to job steps.

Safety Procedures – Keep Bob safe when he's on the job. These can be official regulations to attach or measures standard to your facility.

Equipment/Inventory/Location – I combine these because many times in a CMMS, they'll work together. The same attributes for creating a PM list exist for these three.

With locations, you can break down as far as you want so no one is confused about where a piece of equipment is or where maintenance is to be completed. ("East wing, third level, hallway B, fourth room. Got all that, Bob?") Inventory management– The system should let you organize your stockroom layout to assign parts/tools to specific locations as in Aisle, Shelf, and Bin.

Routes – An excellent way to organize maintenance. Create the steps for a route with each having checklists or specific jobs to complete. No more guessing and calling back for the next destination.

Purchase Orders – As with maintenance, there are requisitions and purchase orders. A CMMS should also organize receiving and invoice reconciliation. Want more? Create a list of items from the same vendor from which to make purchase orders that much simpler. Why have a new PO every time for an item you often buy? Grab it from the pre-made blanket purchase order list and you're moving on.

Human Resources – A CMMS should do more than handle maintenance. How about organizing your employees. (Helps you herd those pesky cats, right?) Name, title, contact info, even down to where Bob graduated college. ("Where is Iowa Wesleyan?") Track timecards, compensation rates, and shifts worked.

2. Financing Function

"Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget Rule No. 1." ― Warren Buffett

All businesses are concerned with the bottom line…and the lines above it. Budgets, bills, monthly expenses, office supplies, and labor costs: all add up.

A CMMS helps. Returning to HR, you're going to look for labor reports by: craft, shift, crew, route, time off ("Bob took how many days last month?"), cost center, equipment.

Attainment reports. (Bob worked a 40-hour week but registered only 14 hours of maintenance time.)

Hours Worked Report menu – How many ways do you want to add up the hours? Many of these are listed above.

Cost Centers – Some facilities have several cost centers and the system used should track those.

Purchasing – Track receipts by Category, Vendor, Due Date, and User. Make sure your system generates a report to show you the performance of vendors. ("Didn't we order that part last year? Why isn't it here, yet?")

Projects – Does your company take on large projects? Maybe you're erecting a new building or adding to an existing building. Look for CMMS software that will assist with special projects.

Image: diagram of a blank work tree3. Production Function

"It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?" – Henry David Thoreau

Sorry for the slight digression, but this rhyming point reminded me of that old Saturday morning educational cartoon during Scooby-Doo episodes, the one that had the song about conjunction words…and asking about their function.

So, how does a CMMS help your productivity? Part of the answer lies in Point 1, organization. When assets and inventory are set, when locations and routes are specified, your work orders should be better organized. In fact, you can spend more time focusing on those work orders. Adjusting time estimates, ascertaining their completion and if they met completion goals.

With better organization, you're able to better focus on the job. Increased productivity should be measurable. Look for a system that has an Issue/Return procedure. And lets you create Tool Kits for more efficiency.

What about those checklists and safety procedures? See how they all overlap in function?

4. Marketing Function

"Who was the marketing genius that called them killer whales instead of sea-pandas?" – Uber Humor

I'm not the only person who's felt slighted by a company. Ignored emails, phone calls not returned, apathetic clerks. When any of these happen, what is the result? Well, I don't return as a repeat customer. Moreover, I don't recommend the company in discussion with friends and acquaintances.

Word of mouth is indirect marketing and produces positive results when customers are satisfied with the product/service. Marketing is not 'advertising' in the strictest sense. I look at marketing as showing value and benefit without necessarily announcing "For sale. Buy me."

Marketing can be done through blogs, social media, and yes, word of mouth. Companies and industries also market through annual conferences.

A CMMS value is derived through scalability, excellent support, and new features for clients including unique feature creation. Vendors – Look for a CMMS that helps you track the best deals from suppliers, noting those who give discounts for bulk orders, and performance reports.

A huge value is the number of reports and data to keep auditors happy.

You'll want a mobile app for your system. Set up Bob with the app and he'll never darken your office doorway again. (Just kidding. You'll need to congratulate him on a job well done because he's been using his app to complete those PMs on time.)

Image: 2 construction workers on a deck5. Employment Function

"You never become a howling success by just howling." – Bob Harrington

Using a quality CMMS instills a sense of teamwork. Dispatch work orders to a leader or each member of the crew, so everyone understands the job at hand.

Give a sense of belonging to employees who aren't users of the system. They're still part of the team. Remember that hanging light issue from earlier? I gave it as an example of a work request. But if the person who discovers the issue is not assigned a user of a CMMS, should he have to dash back to the office to report the problem? No, because the system should have an HTML link to be copied and emailed by his supervisor. Once the worker fills out the information, that report goes into the system where it can be reviewed, authorized, and sent on down the line to become an actual work order. (Reminds of that bill sitting on Capitol Hill waiting to become law on another Saturday morning bit.)

What do you see as your 'business functions' for your company? By now, you understand that a CMMS benefits in so many ways by fulfilling a variety of functions. When considering the various functions of such a system, look at MAPCON be part of your facilities management. It's your function as a supervisor/maintenance manager to find out. Call 800-922-4336 to talk with one of MAPCON's representatives whose function is to assist you with your needs.


Stephen Brayton

About the Author – Stephen Brayton


Stephen L. Brayton is a Marketing Associate at Mapcon Technologies, Inc. He graduated from Iowa Wesleyan College with a degree in Communications. His background includes radio, hospitality, martial arts, and print media. He has authored several published books (fiction), and his short stories have been included in numerous anthologies. With his joining the Mapcon team, he ventures in a new and exciting direction with his writing and marketing. He’ll bring a unique perspective in presenting the Mapcon system to prospective companies, as well as our current valued clients.


Filed under: business function, maintenance management, cmms, organization — Stephen Brayton on July 07, 2022