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“Best Work Order Software Features”— these reviews all sound the same.
David sips his morning coffee, as he flips between browser tabs.
He was just given the green light to purchase a new maintenance work order management software but isn’t sure where to begin.
Secretly, he wishes someone would tap him on the shoulder and tell him which purchase decision would make him happy 6 months from now. David manages a team of eight technicians at an oil industry production plant. Both he and his boss want to further reduce asset downtime, increase labor efficiency, simplify work requests, and identify new cost savings opportunities. Asset management with an intuitive mobile work order app is the future of CMMS software.
There is just one problem: Which of the dozens of advertised solutions truly have the features they need? Unfortunately, David has been influenced by fancy websites, sleek copywriting, and convincing sales reps in the past. The plant’s original maintenance work order management system provided a dependable platform for organizing work orders, managing equipment data, and controlling inventory. However, no one enjoyed using it. The interface was confusing, maintenance requests were hard to track, the functionality wasn’t exactly as promised, and team members avoided using the software.
Sadly, this experience is quite common. We’ve spoken with dozens of managers like David––folks who invested heavily in software, only to be disappointed down the line. In nearly every case, the program features were lacking in functionality, usability, and value. Are you in the market for new maintenance work order software? If so, here are seven features worth prioritizing:
Top 7 Maintenance Work Order Software Features in 2020
1. Mobile Usability
We know what you might be thinking: “Does usability really qualify as a feature?” And the answer is a hard “yes.” As previously mentioned, too many operational managers abandon work order systems because of poor user experiences. Usability is the silent work order software feature that providers don’t always talk about, but customers feel. It can be measured by evaluating:
- Design: Is the architecture simple to navigate?
- Learning: Can new users quickly learn basic tasks?
- Efficiency: Can experienced users accomplish routine tasks?
- Memorability: Can users easily remember how to accomplish routine tasks after interacting with the program?
- Error Frequency/Severity: How often do users make errors while using the system? How serious are those errors?
- Satisfaction: Do users enjoy using the platform?
Unfortunately, the subjective nature of usability allows software providers to sometimes overlook major design flaws. Start with the basics. You should be able to easily assign work orders, manage work orders, and track work order requests from a mobile app.
Look for proof of usability in reviews like this:
2. Real-Time Chat
Nothing beats face-to-face conversations. However, the large square footage of some facilities requires facility managers to stay in touch via walkie-talkie, text message, or email. Unfortunately, these mechanisms aren’t useful for organizing complex instructions for separate work orders.
The easiest way to communicate is via business messaging platforms. In recent years, software companies like Slack, HipChat, and Lua have released smartphone apps that allow organizations to group communication threads by department, topic, and task.
The communication solution is perfect for busy maintenance teams accustomed to troubleshooting unexpected asset questions. MaintainX is the only maintenance work order software platform in the marketplace that includes integrated chat within its CMMS. Maintenance team members can chat within individual, group, and work-related channels. As reported in MaintainX’s 2019 Year-In-Review survey, “work order commenting” was voted the most popular feature by software customers.
3. Ability to Upload Photos
Has one of your team members ever come across an equipment issue that was difficult to explain? They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this is especially true for time-strapped technicians.
The best maintenance work order software programs allow users to upload photographs of assets, parts, and failures from their smartphones. The photos can then be marked up with circles, arrows, and/or text to further clarify problem spots. Finally, the photos should instantly appear within digital work orders without extraneous file attachments.
4. Recurring Work Orders
Organizations can obtain maximum asset value by slowing down equipment depreciation with preventive maintenance (PM). Of course, PM programs depend on recurring work orders! Equipment manuals should be consulted to determine how often all major assets should be adjusted, lubricated, cleaned, and updated with new parts.
The easiest way to ensure upcoming tasks are always assigned is via software with recurring work order settings. A solid CMMS platform allows for the scheduling of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly PM notifications. Managers can also select custom dates. With minimal effort.
5. E-signature Sign-Offs
Modern maintenance work order software programs should display work completion time stamps. For example, say Carl marks his digital work order as “Completed” at 12:15 pm. His manager will see a real-time display indicating the PM has been completed. This validation of work order status completion meets most organizational needs.
However, some organizational leaders may prefer the increased accountability of a traditional signature from a manager. Modern CMMS solutions have solved this problem by integrating e-signature capabilities. Managers can use the e-signature option when creating work order templates, and technicians can have managers sign-off using their fingers and mobile device screens to approve a job well done. This signature can take place on from the manager’s device to confirm it was approved by them.
Voila––a fool-proof digital audit trail!
6. Asset History Accessibility
Does your organization maintain a large database of asset information? Maintenance departments that have been practicing preventive maintenance for a while often have detailed spreadsheets chock-full of equipment serial numbers, service dates, and locations.
You shouldn’t have to re-enter dozens of rows and columns worth of data into your new work order database by hand. Choose a CMMS provider that will either transfer your asset history into the new system at no cost or provide a convenient data import feature. It’s the little things that count.
Furthermore, this information is often most valuable to the folks on the tools. Asset history should be easily accessible from the mobile platform in order to reduce rework and waste.
7. Detailed Reporting
Finally, choose maintenance work order software that includes advanced reporting capabilities that can answer questions like:
- How much time did Carl spend on safety audits last month?
- Should we continue maintaining our HVAC or purchase a new one?
- Are we understaffed or overstaffed (and inefficient)?
Maintenance programs can cross-reference work order data by the assigned technician, asset type, priority status, time to complete, and several other categories. These pieces of information are then combined to create insightful reports that illustrate cost-savings opportunities.
However, data collection is only useful when applied to meaningful business decisions. Choose a platform that automatically calculates and makes sense of important KPIs like MTBF, MTTR, and MTTF.
MaintainX: Not your parent’s maintenance work order software
Choosing a CMMS platform is like choosing a personal vehicle. A Ford Super D F-450 Platinum and a Nissan Frontier perform the same primary functions. However, user experiences feel extremely different.
Work order software selection is a matter of personal preference, but some products are just better than others. We encourage you to prioritize overall usability, real-time chat, photo uploading, e-signatures, asset imports, and user-friendly reporting.
MantainX is the best digital maintenance solution on the market specifically designed for mobile, tablet, and desktop interfaces. We are also the only CMMS platform that handles maintenance, operations, safety, and training.
When we say that anyone with a smartphone can download the app and get started now, we aren’t kidding. Find out why companies like Hilton, Quikrete, Marriott, and McDonald’s are streamlining operations with MaintainX.
Click here to download the app for free.