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The Case for Computerized Maintenance Management Systems

The Case for Computerized Maintenance Management Systems

Automating church maintenance can help save money, time, and frustration

Traditionally, churches were looked after by volunteers and benevolent trade people who are members of a congregation. This methodology worked well when churches and their congregations were small. However, worship facilities of today can include many associated facilities such as Sunday school and youth buildings, schools, multi-purpose buildings, and sports complexes that use increasingly complex equipment for heating, cooling, grounds keeping, and administrative functions. The upkeep and repair of these facilities have much in common with municipalities in that these capital investments must be protected for future use and the people maintaining the buildings must be mindful of the ongoing deterioration of the building fabric and services.

Repair costs can be an overwhelming concern to a church; good maintenance can play its part in reducing repair problems and their associated expense.

Yet it is a difficult and complexif not impossibletask to manually keep track of and maintain the many facility components of today's churches. A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) properly applied can be an invaluable and inexpensive tool to address the needs of your church today.

A Closer Examination
A CMMS is not as complicated as it sounds. Similar to QuickBooks, a CMMS takes the "pencil and paper" function out of maintaining facilities and assets and automates it. Whereas most maintenance is reactiverepairs and maintenance only occur on an as-needed basisa CMMS allows a church to proactively maintain its functions. After equipment and repetitive maintenance tasks are inputted into the system, the CMMS takes over, spitting out routine work orders, reminding technicians to replace old equipment or parts, and efficiently highlighting problem areas. In addition, it collects a wealth of maintenance history. All of the preceding functions of CMMS streamline your maintenance operation and can add to your bottom line.

All CMMS systems include an asset register. This register records the ID number and details of every asset in the facility. It is not the same as the accountants asset register, in that it exists for a different purpose, but they can be cross-referenced.

Assets can be machines, rooms, spaces, or systems. If a logical asset numbering system does not pre-exist, it can be easily created.

To ensure your asset register is most effective in reducing costs:

a.) Keep the numbers simpleremember that people have to enter them. There is no need to build in a lot of structure as the computer can search on any field in the asset database.

b.) Restrict assets to complete assemblies (i.e., do not break up a small A/C unit into subparts). Complex machines do not usually exist in your environment and if they do, avoid the complexity of numbering sub-assemblies and components. Remember a work order will be created for every repair. If, for a particular asset, there are only a few work orders every year, it is easy to identify from the list which component has had recurring problem(s).

c.) Assets can be built into a hierarchy so that certain assets can be "children" of others. This simplifies searches and reporting.

Scheduled Work
All CMMS include the ability to schedule tasks so that a preventive maintenance work order is generated, whether every week or every 10 years. Tasks should be set up using past experience, manufacturers' recommendations and, in the case of building fabric, the advice of architects, builders, and specialists.

Each of these tasks should include requirements for manpower, materials, and tools, particularly where access is difficult.

It is important that tasks should not be created and forgotten. They should regularly be revisited and revised depending on problems, breakdown experience, and new technology. You cannot afford to be performing outmoded or ineffective tasks.

Work Orders
Work orders can be automatically generated from the preventive maintenance system or can be created to cover breakdowns and modifications. Improvements will be realized when:

1.) More work is done on a pre-planned, scheduled basis and not because of a breakdown.

2.) Breakdown work is made more efficient by having information on hand regarding prior repairs, spare parts requirements and availability, and the definition of and approval of required work prior to starting.

3.) It is important to have a system that allows those doing the work to easily record what they did. This is an important record for every asset.

Inventory and Purchasing

Most CMMS systems will have a module that covers the stock of spare parts and their purchasing. For a church facility, it is probably too onerous to keep an accurate count of spare parts and, with the small quantities involved, it is probably not justified. Select a system that keeps track of direct purchases and treat all stock in the same way; for example, if material and/or parts are used in a repair or project, they should be charged to that work order. This should include any direct purchases of material used. If exact costs are not known, a best estimate should be included.

A purchase order or purchase requisition system is important so that there is an easily searchable record of all purchases including details of what was purchased, who approved it, and under what budget account.

A CMMS can provide a complete record of all maintenance activities, incurred costs, and a view of futures costs. It is only necessary to ensure that the appropriate records are extracted from the database.

Establishing a CMMS does not have to be expensive, complex, or require additional staff. If properly implemented, costs associated with church repairs and maintenance will be significantly reduced to allow worship facilities to devote time and resources to their true purpose.

To summarize: Keep it simple. Ensure that the selected system is easy to use, preferably having data entry by the people doing the work. Use the system to collect detail on all significant work. (The computer will sort it for you.) Ensure that the system includes the necessary long-term inspections that will identify problems before they become inordinately expensive.

Appropriate systems are available at modest cost. Do not be persuaded to purchase a system with bells and whistles that are not required. Remember that one of the most important parts of selecting a CMMS is ensuring that entering data is easy and sustainable. It is critical to success and getting payback on your investment in the system.

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