With the widespread advent of mobile phones many software vendors have started looking at utilizing them in their software. This mobile phone support can be especially useful in the maintenance management area where technicians frequently may need to go offsite or to remote locations to do maintenance work. CMMS software that has mobile phone ready features can make it easier to distribute work orders and collect status updates.
Being a vendor of maintenance software we started getting a number of queries on this feature. Digging deeper into what sort of support we should provide we realized a few things which are covered below.
Restrictions on mobile phone support in maintenance management software
- Very few mobile phones are smart phones like an iPhone, Android phone, BlackBerry or Windows phone. Any solution that has mobile phone support needs to consider other types of phones to be effective in the work place. So while it may look good to offer smart apps that enable a person to use a smart phone they will end up being fairly useless for many maintenance technicians unless they happen to own one of these phones.
- Internet access for a mobile phone can be very expensive since most phone companies provide limited data plans. Wireless network access is spotty especially for technicians travelling to other locations. This makes providing a browser based mobile web application not very effective even though it could theoretically support a much wider variety of phones if the phones have a mobile web browser.
- Providing full access to CMMS features to technicians can cause problems since they can end up locking out information or access to records for other users due to connection drops, etc. This means that one has to find a way to isolate the information so that maintenance personnel can get what they need without stepping on each other’s toes or causing system problems because they dropped out of the network.
- Early on we realized that there is an effective way to provide mobile phone support to nearly all mobile phones. In much of the developing world and elsewhere many companies such as banks, utilities, and other service providers have found a way to utilize text messages (SMS messages) to provide very useful functionality. If banks can find a way to effectively handle financial transactions and payments through SMS/ text messages there must be a way to offer similar useful functionality in CMMS software. The big bonus of this approach is that text messages/ SMS works on nearly all mobile phones. There is no need of expensive data plans, people can go offline and pick up messages when they come online again. The costs for text and not very high and most personnel are familiar with text messaging.
- Making work orders paperless and being able to easily distribute to technicians makes it more efficient and easier to manage for system users. It does not make much sense to put in a variety of mobile phone functions which may not really be useful to users. However, enabling the processing of work orders by maintenance technicians using a mobile phone provides major benefits. It empowers technicians, reduces the work for the maintenance planner who now can email out work orders and process responses from maintenance people.
- Another useful feature would be sending alerts by text/ email when work requests are submitted. This allows maintenance managers to have a way to quickly respond to requests without being tied down to the system.
Mobile phone support in our maintenance software package
Reviewing these conclusions we decided to base our mobile phone support on text/ SMS messaging. Two useful features worth implementing was sending work orders by text/ email to maintenance personnel and secondly the ability to send alerts by text/ email. If customers have the Professional/ Web editions they can even process work order responses from maintenance personnel sent as email/ SMS text replies. This reduces the amount of work required to manage work orders.
So if you are looking for a maintenance software package and are considering mobile/ cell phone support you may want to have a look at the FastMaint CMMS Maintenance Management software package. You can download a fully functional 30-day trial and see how it works for you.Download CMMS Software