MRO Magazine

How to Use a CMMS To Increase Work Accountability in the Maintenance Department

As the world becomes more digital and connected, it is more important than ever that organizations are properly collecting and utilizing their data.

March 1, 2021 | By Bryan Christiansen

Photo: Poobest /

Photo: Poobest /

Sound data management is critical in several areas. For most billing and supply chain information, production data, quality data, and machine data come to mind first. Among these areas, however, maintenance data should not be forgotten.

Companies are doing their best to adapt to new maintenance technology. As part of this, organizations should be considering data management strategies for their maintenance data. The term “data management” means several things:
• Collection of the right amount of meaningful data – directly from the source (i.e. not entered manually);
• Storing the data in a manner that is organized and intuitive; and,
• Enabling easy access to the data to those who need it.

Why is it important to have good, accurate data readily available for analysis? Beyond simple understanding of the operation, a good data strategy allows for many advanced opportunities.

For example, it’s necessary for accurate failure analysis. When a failure occurs, it is prudent to understand what happened, so that the operation can avoid it happening again. As Tex Leugner writes in the MRO Quiz article Data Collection Necessary for Effective Failure Analysis, “it is highly recommended that a section of the work order be devoted to the collection of failure information.” After collection, the data can be stored and accessed for future maintenance work on the asset.


Beyond failure analysis, this sort of data strategy is also needed for a more comprehensive understanding of the maintenance performance. Tracking work performance and efficiency is nearly impossible without a good amount of clean data.

Maintenance work accountability and CMMS
Looking at work accountability, first, remember the goal of accountability is not to assign blame. The reason to increase accountability is to improve the overall maintenance program. If improvement is the aim, then a determination of baseline data is needed.

To get a good understanding of maintenance accountability, you need to get an effective measure of maintenance performance. After all, how can you stress accountability without having data to support your arguments?

A CMMS allows for this measurement as it can capture all sorts of relevant maintenance information.

When properly used, a CMMS can provide the platform to fulfill a maintenance data strategy. The CMMS schedules maintenance tasks automatically, allows maintenance techs to input their work output and notes, and stores the maintenance data so it can be retrieved later. A CMMS also allows for running of reports in real-time that can provide meaningful actions. In short, it drastically lowers the amount of administrative effort associated with running a maintenance department.

Maintenance cost is not enough
Traditional methods of measuring maintenance performance have been limited to tracking maintenance spend, and perhaps overtime hours. This is a simplistic and flawed way to measure the maintenance performance.

Tracking performance solely by maintenance cost can reduce your response actions. The only way to react to a rising cost is to lower it, and this is not always the most effective way to improve your maintenance department.

Maintenance cost is definitely an indicator to track, but it should not be the sole measure of maintenance effectiveness. With a CMMS tracking proper information, more is possible, which allows you to get to more meaningful indicators of maintenance performance.

Photo: Kings Access / Getty Images/iStockphoto

General performance indicators
With a CMMS in place, more accurate measures of maintenance performance can be determined. This leads to greater understanding of how well the maintenance team is doing. With better data, the team can be held more accountable. In other words, you’ll be able to correlate maintenance actions with maintenance metrics.

Possible indicators include:
Maintenance work efficiency – assuming you have an idea of how long a task should take, you can see if your technicians are spending the appropriate amount of time on work. This can lead to theoretical workloads, overtime plans, and other metrics.

Maintenance backlog – the backlog in work orders or labour time. The backlog should not be growing over time, so this KPI could indicate a further issue.

Maintenance schedule compliance – a measure of how much the schedule was followed, and a potential indicator of how well the preventive maintenance program is working.

Mean time to repair (MTTR) – is calculated by dividing the downtime length by the total number of downtime events. This indicator could show whether maintenance efficiency is increasing or decreasing.

Mean time between failure (MTBF) – is the average time between failures on an asset. This is an important indicator to determine preventive maintenance priorities.

Maintenance cost as a percentage of replacement asset value – world class operations have this percentage less than two per cent.

Maintenance cost per production unit – with the caveat about maintenance spend tracking, this is perhaps a better measure of maintenance efficiency.

Looking at work accountability, first, remember the goal of accountability is not to assign blame. The reason to increase accountability is to improve the overall maintenance program.

These types of indicators are more meaningful than a basic indicator like cost. With better indicators in place, you can direct maintenance more precisely on how to improve. For example, you can tell your maintenance staff something like “maintenance schedule compliance needs to increase from 75 to 90 per cent,” or “on pumps one to five, MTBF needs to increase from 500 hours to 2,000 hours.” This type of goal is much more understandable than “decrease maintenance spend this quarter.”

Further accountability with CMMS data
A CMMS lets maintenance managers gather details for further accountability amongst their staff. The CMMS can store work instructions for a routine task, or common troubleshooting direction. The technicians can store their work in digital logs, so that they can be audited later. These logs or notes can be used as references for future work on the asset.

The CMMS data also can be used to break down work metrics in other ways. For example, individual performance can be found quickly and used for comparisons. This information can be valuable in finding best practices, then sharing across the department.

Holding your maintenance staff accountable can be a tricky ordeal if you don’t have the proper system in place. A CMMS allows you to generate, store, and access maintenance data efficiently. When you have a good data strategy in place, you can use hard data to hold your maintenance team accountable. The CMMS data can help you develop smart, defined goals that are measurable. With a CMMS and good data strategy, improvement in maintenance becomes clear and actionable. MRO
Bryan Christiansen is the Founder and CEO at Limble CMMS (a mobile CMMS software). He can be reached at


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