- Buyer's Guide
When implementing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) into a facility, one of the largest tasks involved is entering the data into the system. This is a two-part task that first requires the one-time entry of the initial data that has been gathered. The second task is the entry of the ongoing information required to use the CMMS to its full potential.
Initial data entry is a large task, but making a good commitment to the initial data gathering will make the job easier.
There is a massive amount of work required between gathering and entering this initial data. After all, there will be equipment data such as model number, serial number, equipment ID, purchase date, installation date, warranty, etc. Included in the data should be information on preventive maintenance on each asset (what needs to be done, how often work should be performed, etc.). There will also be inventory parts information including part number, description, location and reorder point. Labor information including each technician’s name and basic employee information also should be incorporated.
Make forms to collect all the data you are planning on entering into the CMMS, have technicians fill out these forms, and then decide on a data-entry method. Who will do this job? There are three basic options that can be considered.
Using your current employees to enter in the data will work if you have committed them to this project. Using them on a “need basis” doesn’t work effectively. Temporary employees are cost-effective and work well especially if the initial data gathering provides them with clearly filled-out forms to follow. Turnkey operations complete the entire implementation process from start-to-finish. Each has its pros and cons, and only you can decide which is best for your situation.
Next, you need to determine what will be the best method of entering in the necessary day-to-day information that the CMMS will manage. Every time a technician completes a job, the information regarding the actual job done, the amount of time it took, specific parts used and any additional details the technician includes will need to be entered into the system. The two most common methods include having an administrative assistant enter in all of the information or having each technician enter in the information.
One big misconception is the thought that having one person do the data entry (such as an administrative assistant) will save time and money in the long run. After all, having one person spend one day a week entering in all the information seems easier than having 20 maintenance technicians spend five to 15 minutes entering in each of their information daily.
However, by having an administrative assistant enter in the data, this requires the technician to record everything on paper. In addition, the time required for the technician to correctly fill out the paper and submit to the administrative assistant could have been used to simply enter the information directly into the system.
The information may be illegible due to handwriting or environmental issues such as oil or grease getting on the paper. The paper may even get lost. At this point, the administrative assistant will need to track down the appropriate technician (which may not be an easy task) to get the correct data. Valuable time is wasted because of the process in place. Or, perhaps the data is just entered incorrectly because of guesswork or frustration. By using paper, there could easily be a backlog of documents that need to be entered, which can lead to inaccurate data analysis as the data is not current.
Having the technicians enter in the information themselves allows quicker access to data in the system. The time required to document the data is reduced, along with paperwork. The information is also fresh in their mind and potentially more technically correct than if an administrative assistant is entering in recorded data. One concern employers have is giving technicians the freedom to use computers. That “freedom” is misused sometimes by the technicians who stay on the computers for hours when entering data should only take a few minutes. But, with the proper supervision and training, this concern can easily be negated.
Having a solid plan for how to enter initial data into the system, as well as managing the ongoing data entry requirements, will deter confusion later. Review your work process flow carefully to decide the best method that will work in your situation.