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CMMS Systems – The 4 Essential Elements

There are many different CMMS systems available on the market, each with their own strengths and pitfalls. Despite the wide variety of maintenance management software suites available, there are a few “essential elements”. This article examines what features are essential to a successful CMMS system.

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Field Force Automation Using Android Tablets

The field force automation term refers to the use of technology to capture information and record information in the field without the use of paper forms. It usually refers to the automation of work performed by service technicians, auditors and inspectors that traditionally used to complete the paper work in the field, and then send or return the papers, forms or information back to the office for data entry and processing.

Using hand held devices in the field to complete inspection, various checklists, maintenance activities, or any other field activity is at the core of field force automation. One of the challenges of field force automation as part of a back end system is developing a simple user interface for the tablet, PDA, smart phone or the hand held device. The more simple the interface, the easier it is to make the switch to a mobile device.

Furthermore, deploying a successful field force automation solution takes more than issuing the field technician or inspector with a mobile device or a tablet.  It involves having a solution that integrates and addresses all the activities performed by the field force with the management system back in the office.

The Android operation system by Google is becoming very popular on smart phones and tablets in the workplace and lately is likely to become an integral part of field force automation.

Field Force Automation Android Tablet


Only a few companies have developed solutions based on the Android operating system that automates field force activities as part of back end systems. These solutions may include: inspection software, CMMS, asset management, facility maintenance and other inspection solutions. Android Tablets that run a field force automation application allows for the management of work orders, assets, inspections, maintenance tasks and other service tasks in real time, saving on data entry and processing time and enhancing field force productivity.


The data captured by the field force personnel such as checklists, photos, signatures, parts, recommendations, corrective actions, follow up and invoices can be sent immediately to the office through wireless connectivity using SIM cards or WiFi hot spots. The back end system will then be updated as necessary.


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CMMS Software for Hospitals

CMMS Software has been used effectively in hospitals to maintain equipment and comply with legislative regulations. Given the size of hospitals, there are multiple assets to track, which means that a paper-based maintenance management system is unlikely to be the most cost effective and efficient option. Such a system would require costly filing and scheduled maintenance on equipment may slip through the cracks.

CMMS Software for hospitals will allow all assets to be added to a register. Mobile devices such as PDAs often have scanners which means that each item can be identified by barcodes or RFID tags. A history of past and future maintenance may is available once an asset is identified. Any follow-up action can be scheduled from the field. Mobile devices may also offer a built-in camera so that photographs may be captured, annotated and added to the maintenance history of assets. GPS technology may also be used to track the locations of assets.

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Web Portal CMMS Software

CMMS software providers may offer a web portal in addition to the standard software used to run a computerized maintenance management system from a desktop computer or a PDA with its own operating system. The web portal will usually not have as much functionality as a piece of software run on an operating system such as Windows but it provides enough functionality to complete work orders when using a laptop, smartphone or tablet computer.

CMMS Web Portal









The major benefit of using a web portal in conjunction with CMMS software is that the asset register can be accessed through the web portal from any device or computer which has internet access. This means that field workers can access most information regarding a particular asset with a laptop, smartphone or tablet that has an internet connection. There is no need for a device with the CMMS software already installed.

A web portal is a great feature of a computerized maintenance management system, but it may not be ideal to manage the maintenance of a firm with a large number of assets that require frequent maintenance. As the web portal requires an internet connection, using it from certain mobile devices may incur considerable costs for internet data transfer. So a firm looking to purchase a CMMS software package must weigh up the potential costs of using web portal over a PDA and determine which is the best suit for their business.

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PDAs and CMMS Software

PDAs are the most common device used with CMMS software. They are more portable and weigh less than laptops. They are also more rugged than other devices commonly used such as tablet computers. Just watch the video below to see exactly how rugged PDAs can be! Apart from these features, there are several other features of PDAs which work well in combination with computerised maintenance management systems. These are listed below.



Most PDAs have a camera as standard. These cameras can take good quality photographs which can be annotated and then added to the history of an asset or item. CMMS software solutions usually integrate with the camera so this can be an extremely useful feature.

Audio Recorder

This feature is handy for times when field workers run into to trouble entering information into the PDA. For example if they are required to enter a tight space. They can record their notes and then either enter this data at a later time or include it in the asset or item history.

Barcode Scanner

The barcode scanner feature is particularly useful to firms with a large amount of assets many of which look the same. Adding a barcode to each item will help field workers to accurately identify the correct item. Scanning an items barcode will not only identify it but will bring up the item’s history and previous maintenance work.


GPS can help to find the locations of assets or inventory with pinpoint precision. This is useful if your firm operates on a large premise or operates at several different locations.

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Three Questions to Ask CMMS Software Vendors

When purchasing CMMS software it is imperative that you complete thorough research of what is available and the particular offerings of each vendor. Find the best computerized maintenance management systems can seem complicated but knowing what to ask will help you make the process a lot easier. Here are a few questions to ask potential vendors:

Can your solution be tailored?

Many vendors offer “out of the box solutions” which is basically means they have developed one piece of software to fit the maintenance procedures of every company. While this type of solution is relatively cheap, being able to tailor the system to the nuances your firms maintenance systems can help make the transition to an electronic system a lot easier. Find out if customization is part of the quote you receive or if there is an additional charge. Many firms will offer a basic product at an affordable price but then charge you an over-the-top hourly rate for customization.

Do you offer a “hosted” service?

The cost of the CMMS software itself may not be the only thing to consider. You will have to pay for the computer infrastructure such as servers to run the software which can be quite costly. Some vendors offer a “hosted” solution whereby they take care of the hosting the servers for a monthly fee. Firms need to weight up the costs and benefits of each and the decision will come down to how many assets you wish to track and whether you can affordably set up and maintain the right infrastructure.

How do I get support and how much does it cost?

Getting support for your computerized maintenance management system when you need it and in a timely manner is important to firms, so always ask what support is available and whether it is included in the quote you receive or is an additional charge. Most CMMS software suppliers will offer telephone and email support during business hours but may charge a fee for outside of business hours.