Effective asset management aims to increase the useful life of assets, control costs, improve uptime, and boost your bottom line. Within your larger strategy, asset management software is a critical tool that collects and analyzes all your asset data.
It’s important to choose an asset management platform that delivers a wide range of advanced functionality to meet the needs of your entire operation—from in-the-field vehicle operators to on-the-ground maintenance technicians to the executive team at corporate headquarters. For asset-intensive industries, the data surfaced by enterprise asset management software is what should drive decision making.
Finding the best EAM software can be a challenge, but you can streamline the evaluation process by learning the key features and benefits to look for to help ensure you select the right asset management software solution for your operation.
Your asset management strategy
Asset management is a coordinated set of activities that allows an organization to realize value from its assets, according to ISO 55000:2014. It involves systematically planning asset acquisition, operation and maintenance in ways that maximize productivity and reduce operational costs.
The goal of an asset management strategy is to coordinate asset life cycle activities to achieve the organization’s objectives, says Suzane Greeman, MBA, Principal Asset Management Advisor with Greeman Asset Management Solutions. Without an overarching strategy, your business could be open to a number of risks, potentially leading to losses in productivity and profits.
An asset management platform is the technology solution that supports your strategy by collecting utilization, maintenance and inventory data, organizing it, and turning it into actionable business intelligence. The right solution will help you get a handle on costs, streamline production, minimize risks, and support big-picture opportunities for business growth.
How to choose the right asset management solution
1. Clarify your goals
While there are many general outcomes that every organization needs to achieve, the key is to tie activities and costs back to assets. It’s important to have perspective on your company’s specific business goals and draw a line that connects each of them to asset performance.
Start by determining where your main priorities lie, so you can create measurable goals and define what success will look like.
Some questions to ask in your analysis include:
What are your desired outcomes from your assets overall?
It’s important to precisely define what your asset management solution needs to accomplish for your operations. Clearly defining your priorities provides the foundation upon which you should base your investment.
Asset management software may include the following features:
Asset registries – Compiled information about each asset in a readily available format.
Scheduling – Tracks, predicts, and optimizes maintenance and work order processes based on various inputs.
Work order management– Generates and distributes work orders when they are needed and includes work order tracking and status updates in real time.
Inventory management– Ensures technicians have the parts and materials they need to complete maintenance activities when they need them.
Inspections – Schedules and monitors inspection-related tasks while keeping reliable records to ensure documentation for reporting and compliance.
Dashboard – Centralized visual console that displays relevant information about assets in real time.
Business intelligence – Insights to support making smart, cost-effective business decisions.
3. Ask the right questions
Not all software systems are created equal. Your organization will gain the most benefit from an asset management solution when you evaluate options using the following criteria.
Does it provide data in real time?
The lack of visibility into assets is often one of the greatest barriers to maximizing asset value, especially across large and sprawling facilities, multiple job sites, and organizations with a wide variety of specialty assets. Advanced asset management software will provide real-time information and make it easy to digest at a glance.
Does it emphasize preventive maintenance?
A well-thought-out preventive maintenance program, backed with the right technology, can significantly benefit operational margins. For example, DeFoe Corp., a highway contractor specializing in bridges and architectural concrete, reduced its equipment downtime by 50 percent by using asset management software to not only schedule preventive maintenance tasks but also to analyze the data surrounding those tasks. An advanced solution should allow you to continually refine your preventive maintenance plan by leveraging data.
Does it reveal total maintenance costs?
This feature delivers key insights that can help you reallocate time and effort based on each asset’s value proposition. This functionality includes tracking work orders and inspections as well as their associated costs. It should bring all relevant information into the equation, such as parts and materials used to maintain assets and associated labor costs.
Does it support barcode scanning?
Having all your inventory information in one place on your asset management platform can help you become more efficient. However, a platform that allows you to use a smartphone to quickly capture barcode scans to assign specific parts to work orders will eliminate the need for manual data entry and ensure that you are ordering the right parts to keep your inventory at an optimal level. It’s a powerful feature that saves time and promotes accuracy.
Does it prompt inspection alerts?
Even when you’re fully adhering to regulations, it can be an administrative burden to demonstrate compliance. An audit or inspection can mean hours or even days of time lost if you need to comb through records manually. A powerful asset management platform will deliver a complete record of your work history for each asset, which technicians inspected or replace components and when. An enterprise asset management platform should be able to compile this detail into a custom report that you can review regularly to prepare for inspections. After all, preparing for inspections isn’t a one-time activity — it’s an ongoing effort.
Does it produce customized data reports?
Asset managers need strategic insights into their operations to meet the information demands of many stakeholders, whether they’re regulators, investors, customers, vendors or internal teams. For example, accounting and budgeting departments might need expense details for a certain period of time. Vendors might need to know you performed recommended maintenance on a particular asset in order to make good on a warranty replacement. Intelligent analytic capabilities in asset management software platforms deliver quantified information so you can make better business decisions with less guesswork. Advanced systems that generate custom data reports are valuable tool for anyone who has a stake in the asset management activities of your organization.
4. Consider a cloud-based solution
If you spend a lot time en route to job sites, moving through a facility or working in multiple locations, a cloud-based platform will be the best choice. Advanced solutions should be accessible from anywhere, anytime. They should also offer an easy-to-use interface that will:
Provide access to information on a smartphone or tablet
Deliver helpful alerts to the right teams at the right times
Allow for real-time updates
Surface data quickly without connectivity lag time
Support both the asset manager and the technical teams
Additionally, with a cloud-based asset management system, you won’t have to worry about performing manual updates to the software and your data will always be secure.
5. Outline a cost-benefit analysis
Remember that the lowest-cost solution likely includes only the most basic asset management features. Sometimes you will discover the low-cost choice actually has a long list of piecemeal fees, which can add up fast. To determine the best value for your investment, conduct a cost-benefit analysis.
Estimate the number of users who will need access to your asset management platform. Decide which features you need, then obtain a price quote for the solution you’re considering. Depending on your needs, you might need to request a customized quote.
Consider benchmarking against similar companies who have used the software you’re considering. For example, knowing that a similar firm saved $600,000 in a year with an asset management software system could help you make a compelling case for investing in it yourself.
Your asset management solution should provide positive results. Here are a few examples of what to expect from an advanced solution.
Simplified workflows – Automated notifications, work orders, scheduling and other routine tasks will help you simplify and save time.
Improved operational productivity – Keeping your records, work requests, scheduled maintenance, and parts inventory organized will enable your organization to reduce asset downtime and replacement frequency, while increasing asset efficiency and life. You should always be able to pinpoint what’s working and what isn’t.
Documented compliance – Your organization will avoid the high cost of regulatory fines and post-incident compliance requirements by keeping accurate records that are always at your fingertips.
Improved bottom line – Asset management software is more than a maintenance schedule. It ensures you’ll maximize the use and life of your assets in the context of your unique business needs while gaining insight into the variables that affect your bottom line.