In honor of a great review of ManagerPlus products by the contracting experts at CraftPro Home Improvements, we’ve asked our own experts to offer insights into the ways that Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) solutions can help contractors organize their equipment, inventory, and labor, in order to streamline overall operations, maximize ROI on assets, and keep projects on deadline.
Most importantly, our experts emphasized that, if utilized properly, CMMS software can be a powerful client relationship tool, as it can increase visibility into operations and bolster contractor accountability.
Here are our top four reasons why every contractor should be using CMMS:
1. Reduce Delays. Although not always deserved, the contracting industry is often associated with negative stigmas such as frequent delays, cost overruns, and sub-par work. These problems, when they do occur, leave clients upset, and can even lead to litigation in extreme circumstances. Consequently, many construction contracts contain some variation of the “no damages for delay” clause, which putatively shields contractors against delay-related damages. But according to a William and Mary Law Review paper, which comprehensively examines the risks associated with construction delays, these stipulations are only sporadically enforced and do not provide reliable protection for contractors. Given the severity of the problems that can arise from delays, it is vital that contractors streamline their workflow, improve scheduling, maintain sufficient levels of parts inventory, and keep equipment running. In an industry with a mixed reputation, an efficiently run company will have a distinct competitive advantage.
2. Create a solid book of record. Accountability is one of the keys to building trust in any business relationship. Good Contractors understand this and use CMMS products with advanced reporting capabilities to generate detailed views of all of the work they are doing, including who is doing it, how long it is taking them, the quantity and cost of materials they are using, and how progress is measuring up against expectations. The effect is to take much of the “he said, she said” out of the process of assessing work performance and replacing it with hard data that can be used identify areas that need improvement. A high level of organization, clarity, and transparency will impress clients and enhance the contractor's reputation for quality work as well as allow for better overall planning and parts and labor forecasting.
3. Keep workers organized, on-task, and accountable. The William and Mary paper nicely captures the challenges of managing a construction project with a quote from an old judge: “except in the middle of a battlefield, nowhere must men coordinate the movement of other men and all materials in the midst of such chaos and with such limited certainty of present facts and future occurrences as in a huge construction project.” Shoddy work is often a consequence of workers rushing to get a job done, or missing details because they became distracted, missed instructions, or simply let something slip through the cracks. At some point, virtually every manager has heard the same excuses of “I didn’t know,” “nobody told me,” or “I didn’t have the right parts/equipment” when these mistakes are made. It can be difficult to handle these situations without a system that records workflow, inventory, and scheduling, as there is no hard data to reference when conflicts arise. A study by Carnegie Mellon University suggests that labor output per hour is a measure of “overall effectiveness of an operating system in utilizing labor,” which suggests that equipment condition and uptime are mission-critical when it comes to maximizing labor. Implementing a CMMS program can deliver immediate benefits because it will signal to both workers and clients that the contractor demands a high degree of accountability.
4. Increase operational efficiency. According to the same construction labor management study by Carnegie Mellon University, “Good project management in construction must vigorously pursue the efficient utilization of labor, material and equipment.” While the construction industry has benefited from its share of technological advances, the Carnegie study suggests that these improvements have been smaller than those seen in other industries, making the organization of operations particularly important for construction projects. Maintenance software programs that use a relational data base afford users detailed views of their operations that cannot be achieved through simple spreadsheets and other basic tracking methods. This makes it easier to gain a multi-faceted view of their business and identify sources of waste and inefficiency. Sometimes minor adjustments can lead to big increases in margins, which can put contractors who ahead of the competition.
Note that these are just a few of the ways that CMMS can be useful in the construction industry. Be sure to check back here regularly for more tips, tricks, news and analysis.