The Excel spreadsheet has long been the leading IT solution for maintenance management. But technological progress has led to the development of software specifically designed for CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System), with more advanced functionalities.
And yet, many companies still use Excel or other spreadsheet solutions to manage their maintenance, rather than a dedicated software. What are the reasons for this? Are they making the right choice? This article gives you all the pointers on choosing between Excel and a CMMS to manage your maintenance activities.
The pros and cons of managing maintenance in Excel
Starting to use an Excel file to supervise maintenance is often the first step in digitizing technical services. This method saves valuable time compared to paper files, but it also comes with its own set of limitations.
The advantages of maintenance on Excel
Maintenance management can sometimes be done simply by using a fairly comprehensive Excel file to record the schedule of technicians’ inspections on a piece of equipment and various other key elements necessary for follow-up: fleet management, stock monitoring, overview of workload against staff resources, etc.
Excel is the Swiss army knife of Microsoft’s software. It’s ideal for reporting results, analyses, planning interventions or even running entire processes; it has undeniable qualities.
The most obvious advantage of using a spreadsheet for maintenance is that it is easy to set up. You don’t need to be an expert in spreadsheet software to deploy a basic tool for monitoring maintenance interventions. For very small businesses looking to improve their maintenance management at an affordable cost, Excel is the tool most within their reach, firstly because it is “free” (as, most of the time, they already purchased it), and secondly because they can use it without using an external service provider or training their employees.
Moreover, this tool offers great flexibility to provide any type of information, it is easier to pass to a coworker than a paper file, and neither the file nor the software is likely to become outdated very soon.
The disadvantages of maintenance in Excel
Microsoft’s famous spreadsheet program, however, has some important drawbacks.
A negative impact on productivity
The first of Excel’s downsides is its negative influence on team productivity. The processing, management and analysis of data takes a lot of time once it reaches a certain volume. In addition, the risk of errors is quite high, which affects the reliability of the data and the use that is made of it.
A forced centralization of information
Using spreadsheets will irrevocably lead to data centralization. It is indeed often complicated to share files in real-time, whereas the planning of maintenance operations must generally be collaborative, since it implies a constant exchange of information. It also requires real-time updates, which are not possible with Excel, as close cooperation with the field is essential to guarantee the quality and accuracy of the data.
While the optimization of maintenance activities relies on the involvement of all employees, the use of Excel requires a single person to centralize data, often gathered on paper files by technicians. The spreadsheet tool is therefore poorly suited to teamwork and collaborative management and, therefore, has a negative impact on the efficiency of operational teams.
A tool not suited for mobility
Maintenance technicians are constantly on the move. They know that their efficiency depends greatly on a good flow of data and information, if possible in real time. The use of Excel to manage maintenance does not meet this need. In fact, this software lends itself very poorly to use on a smartphone or tablet.
Is CMMS really better than Excel?
As we have seen, the use of Excel to manage maintenance has many drawbacks: the software is not dynamic, it was not designed to manage the unexpected, it does not adapt to the agility of field teams. Spreadsheets therefore do not allow you to work in real time or to collaborate efficiently. But do all CMMS solutions necessarily do better?
How does traditional software perform?
Deploying dedicated software makes maintenance management much simpler and more efficient. But it can also come with its own drawbacks.
What is CMMS software?
Computerized Maintenance Management Software is a computer program specifically designed to manage and streamline the maintenance of equipment within a company. Most of these solutions make it possible to manage equipment (inventory, location…), maintenance, stocks, maintenance staff, costs, performance indicators, among other things.
The pros and cons of traditional CMMS
Classic solutions facilitate the management of equipment maintenance thanks to features specifically designed for maintenance. They are expected to provide users with better productivity, by reducing machine downtime, better cost control, extending equipment life and anticipating future expenses, and better traceability, by making it easier to record and consult interventions.
However, in practice, these software programs often prove to be complicated and costly to implement and use. Indeed, they are cumbersome to set up, require long weeks of team training, are complicated to use and are very limited in terms of mobility.
While they are supposed to facilitate the work of maintenance operators, these solutions all too often have a demotivating effect on them and lead to a lack of involvement in their implementation and use. There are thus many examples of companies that have wanted to adopt CMMS software but have found themselves faced with major difficulties, both in the technical installation and in the appropriation of the tool by the teams.
Is next-gen CMMS the best solution?
The Mobility Work community-based maintenance management platform completely changes the approach to industrial maintenance by applying the same logic to it as to everyday uses. It benefits from optimal ergonomics designed to make it easy to use from the first time. As a result, its appropriation by the teams is very quick and encourages their motivation to use it.
Moreover, the Mobility Work application is also mobile. This means that it can be used from anywhere on a smartphone or tablet. Maintenance operators can therefore consult the history of operations and enter their intervention reports in real-time, which considerably increases the reliability of the information.
In addition, this maintenance management platform has a community operation inspired by social networks. This feature is a major asset to facilitate the sharing of information and fluidify exchanges within the teams involved in maintenance. Companies can even choose to share the information they want with other users in order to benefit, through the Mobility Work community, from a wealth of feedback on the maintenance of the machines they use.
Finally, the integrated Big Data provides all users of the application with a unique capability to analyze machine maintenance based on the data collected within their network.
When you add to these features a much lower cost than older solutions and personalized customer care, it is clear that the next-gen CMMS of Mobility Work represents an unprecedented and unbeatable compromise between ease of implementation and use, reduced cost and efficiency in maintenance management.