The article below was originally published in the March-April 2015 Issue of Professional Retail Store Maintenance, the official print publication of the PRSM Association, in anticipation of the PRSM2015 National Conference in Philadelphia. Big Sky will be in Booth 925, come by and see us!

Controlling Spend with CMMS

There are plenty of good reasons to implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) to help get a handle on your retail facilities.  From establishing consistent processes and business rules, to gaining visibility into your processes through dashboards and reporting, to the automation of simple and repetitive tasks, CMMS systems are designed to promote transparency and efficiency across your organization and allow the team to focus on exceptions. While these advantages are sometimes hard to quantify in terms of ROI, one benefit these systems offer is clear: direct cost savings.

CMMS systems have evolved over the years through the partnerships between the developers and their customers, where needs are met through innovation. As a result there are a number of standard and specialized features available that help control spend. Current systems offer opportunities for both controlling costs and directly avoiding costs:

Control Spend

  • NTEs – set and adjust Not to Exceed amounts specific to the Trade and Issue to control spending on typical tasks.
  • Approval Routing – automate the approval process to the appropriate approver for higher dollar jobs.  Approvals and NTEs work hand in hand with SSAE 16 audit compliance to insure all actions and approvals are available to auditors to insure funds are spent appropriately.
  • Budget and Accrual Tools – create budgets by geographic region, store, trade or even asset.  Then use the reporting tools to analyze each budget grouping to see how your current spend and accruals compare, and automate the delivery of each of these reports to the respective team members responsible for those budgets.
  • Cost Analytics – use built in BI tools to analyze your cost data to easily view your spend in specific focus areas including trades, issues, vendors, regions, districts, and stores. Then identify those areas where you need to improve or take further measures.

Avoid Spend

  • Training and Troubleshooting – the first opportunity to avoid spending money comes at the time of the initial requests, where many CMMS systems make trade-specific training and trouble-shooting available that can help the store solve the issue on their own.  If there is a simple fix, no work order is cut and there is direct savings on trip costs and contractor services, which can be reported on at the end of the year as a “problem solved.”
  • Store and Asset Warranties – systems can display automated warranty alerts to a facility manager prior to cutting a work order.  Whether it’s a store warranty or a warranty on a tagged asset in the work order, these processes ensure you cut a zero dollar NTE to the GC or warrantor, resulting in direct savings.
  • Landlord Responsibilities – much in the same way warranties can be activated, many systems also send alerts when a work order may be the responsibility of the landlord, and if so, even send a notice to the landlord directing a repair to be made.
  • Bundling of Work Orders – defer requests that do not directly affect sales or the appearance of the store until you have a few of them.  Then bundle them together and send a single work order for all of the bundled issues and save.
  • Asset Aging and TCO – track cumulative repair and maintenance spend on a given asset in addition to its scheduled replacement date, and get alerted when the cost/value ratio is too high or pending replacement date is too near to warrant dispatch of a work order.
  • Invoice Automation – apply your own business rules to invoices that are entered in the system, and reject those that come in over the NTE or where the work completed was not satisfactory. Then, save time and money through added efficiency in the review, approval, and export of invoices to your AP system of record.

These cost savings measures typically add up to a compelling ROI argument from the outset.  Factor in the additional advantages from having consistent processes in place, expanded visibility, audit compliance, and time-saving automations, and you begin to see why CMMS systems have quickly become compulsory to running a large retail operation.