The changing paradigm for CMMS development

There's a great deal of pressure to use modern technology for coordinating logistics and overcoming business challenges—particularly in manufacturing, where processes can be complex and efficiency is key.
By Smartware Group March 29, 2016

Users have the ability to configure a number of options within Bigfoot CMMS, including safety program categories, work order task categories, measurement units, and more. Courtesy: Smartware GroupThere’s a great deal of pressure to use modern technology for coordinating logistics and overcoming business challenges— particularly in manufacturing, where processes can be complex and efficiency is key.

Surprisingly, though, there’s been a notable decline in recent months in companies relying on outside software providers to help them manage operations. The market for outsourcing just isn’t what it used to be.

Largely, this is the case because companies are moving away from client server-based software and embracing cloud platforms instead. This is unsurprising—it’s a natural stage in the evolution of business technology. Cloud-based systems, such as flexibly-designed computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), reduce the need for customizations and implementations that span several months and years. The developments from forward-thinking CMMS providers today rely on configurable architecture to give greater control to the user, rather than reliance on highly technical third parties.

CMMS workflows as part of the evolution

So how does configuration come into play in a CMMS? Configuration is the selection of programmable options that make the program function to the user’s liking. Configuration allows users to choose the naming of fields, field options, field requirement and visibility settings, among other options. This setup reduces the need for programmatic changes to the software code, called customization, which can be difficult and costly to support and maintain.

Automation is another foreground aspect of the modern CMMS software development model. A form of automation can be found in CMMS workflows, in which records are automatically routed based on a user action or triggered setting, for example. In one case study, a pharmaceutical manufacturer needed an easier way to track various stages of the work order process so that the organization’s key constituents could review, approve, and move the work order to the next sequential process to meet compliance requirements.

A complete review of the business process was required to create a workflow by enforcing logic and notification protocols for each step in the process. As a result, the work order status could be matched to the workflow, where routing and notification to the appropriate individuals to take action was considered a critical success factor. With the logic in place, both traceability and accountability was enforceable and helped the organization meet and exceed regulatory requirements.

A walk in the park

In another case, a theme park operation that manages four hotels, 20 commercial properties, more than 100 different amusement rides and nearly 10,000 inventoried assets and parts needed a robust, yet easy-to-use request and work order management process for park guests, operations, and maintenance staff. The key objective for this situation was to improve service level while also balancing available resources according to priority and cost.

The work order management process started with the initial work request, an area that is highly variable based on what is requested and who made the request. From this point, each request would be routed, based on the conditions indicated in the request form, to the appropriate decision maker for review and disposition to the next step. In certain cases where monetary value was implicated, the routing could then be directed to another decision maker based on his/her level of authority. Often this person was not part of the same organizational entity.

Following a detailed review of all the interrelated business processes and variables, it was determined that the workflow could take multiple routes in the decision process tree, and yet come back to a core set of rules as the details of the work order matured in status. There were also key elements, such as which positions could edit, reject, or roll-back work order statuses to maintain control and accountability.

Today, each end user can clearly see the flow of information transitioning through the CMMS from the initial request phase to work order processing and current status, which helps management gauge performance on how well their organization executed the activities or where there may be opportunities for improvement.

—This article originally appeared on Smartware Group blog. Smartware Group is a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Erin Dunne, production coordinator, CFE Media, edunne@cfemedia.com.

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