This is part 2 of our series of Workforce Optimization. Read the background on this series and Part 1: Team Management.
How are you managing your inbound requests for maintenance? I’ve seen it done many ways: everything from stopping someone in the hallway, filling out random slips of paper, hailing on the radio, email, web-based forms and beyond. How efficient is your process? Are maintenance issues slipping through the cracks which will create greater-magnitude issues further along? Are you able to get the right person (or contractor) with the right skills and the right parts in a timely matter? Optimizing your maintenance request process will help streamline response, reduce downtime, and ultimately alleviate pressure on other projects such as preventive maintenance initiatives which will make your operations even more efficient.
Downtime is a profit killer – catching problems early will absolutely minimize unplanned downtime. There are a variety of measures to help achieve more uptime, such as a solid preventive maintenance program, but more uptime can also be greatly assisted if the general team can easily report problems – even minor – early, quickly and with the right information. A well implemented CMMS will have multiple methods to submit a request: a web-based request portal, a mobile request app and or email-to-ticket.
Everyone should have a bookmarked link to the request portal to submit a request, both for a regular desktop browser and mobile device.
Better yet, using your mobile device with a true app will be faster and easier – especially if you create a ticket right when you notice the issue. Turbocharge this process by employing QR code scan to quickly locate the correct asset and create the ticket. You can even take a picture or video and associate with the request.
Sending an email to the maintenance team is an ok alternative if the above options are not available. This will end up creating a request that maintenance can review, but the data in the ticket will likely need some editing to accurately reflect the correct asset and other details.
In all cases, make sure your team is aware of the best method to submit a maintenance request – they should have an easily accessible bookmark or easy to locate app on their mobile device.
You never want a requestor to get frustrated and blow off creating a ticket – this will only exacerbate this issue and create further unplanned downtime risk.
You likely have a lot of eyes and ears that can help catch maintenance issues early. Total Productive Maintenance is a methodology that preaches “everyone is responsible for maintenance”. This truly means everyone – production team, administrative staff, security, janitorial team, management – everyone. If you see a problem, report it!
We don’t want to overwhelm maintenance with needless tickets, but you can use your CMMS to intelligently help these requestors answer questions/fill in fields to streamline the process. Make sure you have training for the general requestor population. Often a simple video or worksheet can suffice for basic operations. Rely on your CMMS partner to help with this.
When filling out a request form, make sure your team accurately completes all available fields. Make this easy for the requestor by having easily described assets, locations, problem/cause codes, descriptions, etc.
Look at the below example of a poorly filled-out request – you don’t want to send maintenance on a wild-goose chase to locate the asset/location or need to overly research to identify the issue. Plus the tech will have to further clean up that ticket.
A better, more intelligent, and efficient form will make it much easier for the maintenance team to address the issue. Below is an example where keys fields are filled out.
As these requests move through the process, authorized users will have ability to clean-up the requestor-input information. All of this is logged for historical reference. Having good info in the form will also help later analysis of those issues, assets and team effectiveness.
A solid CMMS will have various intelligence methods to streamline the management of requests. Dynamic workflow is key. For example, an asset can have a dedicated associated person/team/contractor. The requestor does not need to think about this – they simply pick the affected asset. As this request works through the review process, the maintenance/admin reviewing will not need to figure out who is best to work on this asset – that “assigned to” field can be dynamically filled out.
You can also set permission on who needs approval for submitted requests – in some cases you may want to put a gatekeeper to approve a request before it ends up a candidate for a work order. The approvers then have the ability to review and approve.
As requests move through the process, they will eventually blend with other types of work orders (preventive maintenance, manually created corrective work orders, etc.). To the technicians and their managers, these requests are the same as others – easily identified with good notes on the work order including contact information for who submitted it.
Downtime is a profit killer – whatever steps we can take to avoid unplanned downtime benefit the entire organization. Use the entirety of your organization to quickly and easily catch problems early – far more effectively than ignoring. Make sure the ability to submit requests is easy and efficient. Use the dynamic abilities of your CMMS to see these requests in the technicians’ hands for quick resolution.