FIRE and security installers

Upgrading your planned preventative maintenance strategy in 5 steps

Marketing executive, Commusoft

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Commusoft is job management software with over 1200 clients and 10,000 users.
July 2, 2019

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A planned preventative maintenance (PPM) strategy doesn’t happen overnight.

Most likely you’ve been thinking of breaking into the business or upgrading your existing system for some time. At the end of the day, as the name says, it’s all about having a plan.

Automation and the fourth industrial revolution have affected the way most companies work. From improved communications to better data, you now have a series of opportunities that were hard to imagine a few years ago.

Digitising your PPM is taking things one step further. For those remaining who rely on pen & paper solutions to the ones who have upgraded to virtual spreadsheets and down to those who already employ a preventive maintenance software, it’s important to keep in mind that technology advances not in steps but in leaps. Auditing your existing strategy and realising it needs an upgrade is perfectly normal.

Which is why we created this quick guide on upgrading your PPM strategy in five steps.

Step 1. Write down the key features your software should have

Whether you already have a digital solution in place or are thinking of investing in one, you need to keep in mind that not all software is created equal. Some are easier to use but cater to smaller businesses therefore don’t have the ability to handle more complex maintenance schedules.

Then there’s the complete opposite: the ones that have been designed for enterprises and offer too many bells and whistles, all of which you have to pay for whether you’re using them or not.

There are certainly middle ground options as well but no matter which one you go for, make sure it has the following features with the additional note that while not all of them might be crucial now, you’re definitely hoping for growth therefore your software of choice should be future-proof.

How will you know if it has these? Well, from the get-go, you shouldn’t get a product as important as PPM software without a minimum of a two-week trial period where you get to sit down with it and assess. This being said, here are some vital features:

Clear visualisation tools

Any PPM software should have visualisation tools – it’s what they’re made for – but once again, there are good and bad options out there. It’s the reason why Excel spreadsheets only work as a solution for so long and only for businesses of a certain size.

Once you’re out of the ‘small company’ stage, the number of jobs you need to input and contracts you need to follow, especially when everything is done manually, simply means that you need to hire as many office staff as engineers – which is the opposite of scalable growth.

A good visualisation tool should be complex enough to give you all the information you need at a glance (colour coded events, engineer details, assets involved, etc.) but well-organized enough that an office admin can easily keep track of it. The way to make sure your choice is right is to trial it properly before committing. Input data as you would normally do for as long as the trial permits then judge the results.

Job auto-creation…

With an option to select a preference for the pace at which jobs are auto-created. Bulk generating jobs as soon as you input a contract will only diminish your flexibility and encumber your schedule.

Make sure your PPM solution auto-generates jobs approx. one or two weeks in advance (ideally, it would let you decide on the appropriate amount of time!) and don’t even bother considering something that lacks auto-generation in the first place. That is the point of automation, isn’t it?

Skill association & differentiation

A solution can’t be truly automated if it doesn’t have skill association and the ability to differentiate between engineers. Carrying over from the previous feature, a lack of details associated with a job can only lead to issues down the road, where your engineers show up to the appointment without the necessary parts or they have the wrong qualifications.

For example, if your business covers commercial buildings and you need to fulfil an SLA for lifts, you won’t be sending gas engineers. Which takes us to…

Engineer portal

Engineers are not office managers and they shouldn’t have the skills of one. Which is why you need to make sure a digital solution comes with a separate engineer portal that is easy to use and, most importantly, updates their schedule in real-time.

More often than not, this comes in the shape of a mobile application. Even the most basic one should at least offer access to the diary, a map view, and the option to accept or decline jobs. Additionally, real-time schedule updates should be the norm, allowing engineers to see immediately if there are any changes to their day.

SLAs notifications and warnings

A fundamental feature of any PPM software are notifications and warnings when approaching an SLA breach. Service Level Agreements are legally binding therefore breaching one is a serious issue.

Your software should help you keep track of them, auto-generate jobs accordingly, and warn you if you’re approaching a deadline and the appointment hasn’t been fulfilled.

Facilitate client communication

One often overlooked feature is client communication. You don’t realize how important it is until you have to send proof of schedule to a client and all you have is a messy screenshot of an Excel sheet.

Professional software will greatly improve your relationship with facilities managers and other clients as they will be properly informed and updated when changes appear.

Security features

When it comes to data regulations, companies employing any type of software have a great deal of responsibility when it comes to managing the information. Any type of security breach is a risk, especially when working with larger clients. Whenever you’re searching for a software, make sure that they take encryption seriously and has built-in back-up system.

Step 2. Consult with your team

As a business manager or owner, you are the main decision maker. But it’s your employees that have to live with your choices so in order to promote workplace wellbeing, the next step should be to consult them too before making a decision. Good software should make things easier for employees, improve communication across teams, and promote shared responsibility and accountability.

Make sure that your team is at ease with the idea of digital solutions being implemented and aware that they will be trained on how to use them. More often than not, digitising attempts encounter resistance from employees because they are nervous about not being knowledgeable enough. If they feel involved in the process and have a chance to trial the software themselves, they will be much more open and you can count on their honest opinion.

Step 3. Train your employees

As we’ve mentioned in our previous step, training your team is vital when upgrading your business. PPM is challenging by nature as it’s admin-heavy and requires a great deal of attention to detail.

It’s difficult after investing in a product to spend more money on training as well but if you don’t then your investment goes to waste as your team won’t be making the most out of their new tool. According to Field Service News, connected devices have had a great impact on how engineers operate on-field, implying that knowledge on the subject has become a precious commodity.

There is software out there that doesn’t require any training and it will definitely suit a small business that’s looking to stay that way. But any company that wants to grow knows that something that’s easy enough to learn on your own can’t possibly support complex operations like those of a field service business with multiple clients.

Wasting hours upon hours of your office staff’s time on organising papers and folders is a resource that could be put to better use.

Step 4. Market your new potential

Make sure that once you get your new software going and your team is happily trained and working away, you don’t forget to market your new potential. Advertise your PPM tool on your website and when you tender for contracts. Large contractors that hire field service companies to do maintenance want guarantees that they can handle the workload and have appropriate measures in place when it comes to scheduling and upholding SLAs.

Imagine you were a Facilities Manager for a large office building. Would you trust the field service business that sends you colour coded schedule breakdowns in neat PDFs or the one with a coffee stained diary? The answer is pretty easy to gleam.

Step 5. Analyse and optimise

One major advantage of the big data movement was that with more advanced software, comes the possibility of storing more information. Don’t forget after you get accomodated with your PPM software to audit, analyse, and optimise. Set a few KPIs when your trial period is over then measure your results.

For example, one KPI could be number of jobs performed. This way you can also set goals for your team. Now that you have a means to measure them, it’s much easier to see where your business is doing well and where it could be improved. Optimisation measures can’t be implemented without information and if you never optimise, how are you going to get better?

The takeaway

All in all, the ideal PPM software should cover all these bases and work seamlessly with your other operations. Commusoft has been providing field service businesses with management software for over 15 years, helping them with scheduling, stock control, invoicing, asset tracking and many others.

This experience has given us an edge in developing a Planned Preventative Maintenance feature that integrates perfectly with every other aspect of a property maintenance or fire & security business.

All in all, the ideal PPM software should cover all these bases and work seamlessly with your other operations. Commusoft has been providing field service businesses with management software for over 15 years, helping them with scheduling, stock control, invoicing, asset tracking and many others.

This experience has given us an edge in developing a Planned Preventative Maintenance feature that integrates perfectly with every other aspect of a property maintenance or fire & security business. Whereas traditional PPM software is little more than a list of tasks, Commusoft has developed a visually appealing, flexible feature with automatic job creation that will aid your business in winning contracts and upholding service level agreements.

For more details, book a demo with our team here.

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Hannan Ahmad
Hannan Ahmad
September 26, 2019 8:26 am

Among all the important aspects of building management, the most crucial one is maintenance. Keeping the buildings, no matter the type, up and running with minimum unplanned downtime is the goal of every building maintenance strategy squad. However, to achieve those levels of efficiency, we need to maintain the building assets in such a way that we identify and solve a problem before it takes down our operations. Now the question is how best to do that. The digital revolution has reached the real estate and construction sector. As a result, buildings are becoming more and more connected, thereby increasing… Read more »