Exponential growth in technology has made IT uptime mission critical for facilities managers, and not just those who work in traditionally data-intensive industries like finance, telecommunications, and e-commerce. A recent survey revealed that growth has been strongest in industries like hospitality, public works, and transportation, which have seen their dependence on data centers more than double since 2010. And fully 92% of decision makers at major companies have said that they will “definitely or probably” expand their IT infrastructure.

This means that facilities managers who may have little prior experience with the demands of IT maintenance must contend with the huge consequences associated with failures in these systems: data center downtime alone can cost nearly $1,000 per minute at a minimum, and can reach as high as $16,000 per minute in the worst cases.

The two most common causes cited for these outages are back-up power supply failure and human error. Maintenance management software can help mitigate both.

IT equipment should be inspected regularly as part of a thorough preventive maintenance routine to optimize efficiency and catch problems early before they develop into expensive emergencies. And in cases of unpredictable human error, it is vital to have a plan in place that can be executed quickly in the event of a failure—preventive maintenance software makes this easy.

Preventive Maintenance for IT

Of 67 companies surveyed in the above cited Emerson Network Power study, some 24% responded that failure in uninterruptible power source (UPS) was the main cause of outages. These back-up power systems can be highly complex, and day-to-day maintenance staff may lack the expertise to conduct proper inspections.

According to the Emerson study, 21% of the managers of data facilities don’t know what the power demands of their servers are. Obviously, this will make it hard to accurately evaluate the state of UPS systems, which are comprised of numerous complex components.

Fortunately, there are resources available that provide detailed instructions and checks for these systems. Electrical Construction & Maintenance magazine has an excellent guide on their site for free.

These steps can be added to a schedule group within your CMMS software system, and then assigned to experts who can go through and perform them. Schematics and other support materials can be attached directly to work orders and/or schedule groups to ensure that these experts have everything they need to perform checks efficiently.

The same steps can be taken to shore up the reliability of all IT systems within a facility. Inspections and preventive maintenance tasks can easily be created for both physical and virtual upkeep of this infrastructure with information from owner/user manuals and expert sources.

Minimize Response Turnaround Time

Building thorough schedule groups will also help maintenance staff respond quickly when IT systems fail unexpectedly as the result of human error. Tracking down and adding maintenance information will familiarize staff members with different IT components, which will enable them to respond more quickly when a problem arises.

In best-in-class CMMS software systems, work orders can be accessed from mobile devices, enabling work to continue even as other IT systems are offline. Processes can be built around this functionality to ensure that workers can respond immediately no matter where they are on the worksite.

If employees are scattered over a worksite, the time it takes to call them or wait for them to report to the main office can add up quickly. Shaving even just a few minutes off of response time can translate into thousands of dollars of savings.

It’s critical that companies take the time to review their emergency protocols and think of ways that CMMS software can be used to improve them.  Schedule groups can be created specifically for certain emergencies and activated when they arise, providing workers with a specific plan of action. Operational clarity is vital to effective emergency response, so these plans should be thorough and staff should be well-trained.

These are just two of the ways that CMMS software can be helpful in managing IT infrastructure. Reports on lifetime asset costs can help identify problem areas that need to be replaced or upgraded. Tracking labor rates and generating cost estimates can help companies increase efficiency.

Above all, the most important thing is to be organized. Administrative inefficiency can compound IT outage costs, so it’s critical to have clear systems and procedures in place.

Be sure to check back here regularly for all the latest maintenance news, tips, and insights from ManagerPlus.

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ManagerPlus is the preferred solution across the most asset-intensive industries, including Fortune 500 companies, to improve reliability and minimize downtime.
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