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It’s 2020, and it’s scary the number of organisations still using pen and paper to manage their maintenance operations. The numbers quoted by the various maintenance experts range from 26-49% still using pen and paper to track maintenance. Many using pen and paper believe if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! Unfortunately, they simply don’t know how broken their antiquated system is. This article outlines how CMMS software like Assetminder outperforms pen and paper significantly for managing maintenance:


Single source of maintenance information

Folks using pen and paper tend to use disparate systems to manage their maintenance. They use defect slips for employees to log issues, paper check sheets for inspections, wall planner to schedule PMs, and paper logbook to track repairs. The big issue with all these systems is the information is everywhere and nowhere. A CMMS offers a single source of real-time asset information. Technicians can scan an asset record and instantly see what activities were recently completed on the asset, what defects are open, and what PMs are due.

CMMS versus Pen and Paper mechanic


Less administration time

Technicians using paper-based systems spend a lot of their time filing documents, printing order forms, filling in request slips etc. The paper, documents, and dockets are passed from person to person and filed away in a folder in the end. A CMMS digitizes a lot of the paper processes. When defects are logged, they are instantly added to the defect queue for approval. When work is done, it is instantly filed away as closed work in the system. In the CMMS versus pen and paper battle, technicians using a CMMS spend more time doing what they do best….repairing assets.


Less reliance on memory

Companies using pen and paper tend to be over-reliant on the memory of key individuals. When technicians are under pressure, it’s quicker to rely on memory rather than check through paper logbooks and defect slips. In not doing so, they are not getting a full picture of the recent activities on the asset, nor are they aware of any open issues. The technician also relies on memory and experience to complete the repair. If those individuals leave the organization, a lot of information leaves with them. Organisations using a CMMS are less reliant on memory. If the technician has access to CMMS, they can quickly search asset history and see who did what and when. They can also pull from standardised checklists or procedures to walk them through the repair.

CMMS versus pen and paper - fleet maintenance mobile apps

Fewer issues fall through the cracks

With a paper-based system, issues can fall through the cracks if the paper slips are lost or misplaced. The problem with small issues is they can quickly turn into something more serious if not addressed in time. With a modern cloud-based CMMS, issues can be logged into the system using any internet-enabled device. Once the issue is logged, the reporter’s work is done. The issue is added to the maintenance backlog immediately for review, prioritization, assignment, and execution.


Facilitate knowledge transfer

Folks using paper-based maintenance systems have little or no sharing of information across the organization. The repair is completed and the details logged in the logbook. Some details of the repair may be discussed during the daily meeting, or in the lunchroom, but chances are the information never gets shared. One of the key advantages of a CMMS is that it’s a central database of information so it facilitates the sharing of information and knowledge transfer. Technicians can quickly search asset histories to see similar repairs at their site, or any site across the organisation. Having that knowledge of similar issues in the past can shave hours or days off repair time.


Auditing becomes a breeze

An audit can be a nightmare for the paper-based maintenance department. The auditors most likely say “Show me everything that happened on this system between these two dates”. Searching through reams of paper to find all the records can be challenging and time-consuming. If a customer is auditing, it can also become very embarrassing for the maintenance supervisor if the documentation is difficult to sort through. CMMS software makes auditing a breeze. As the paper trail is digitized, information can be pulled quickly for auditors or compliance officers. If they asked the same question as above, it would take ~10 seconds to pull a report from the system showing the auditor all maintenance activities on an asset for a particular period.


Quick & easy reporting

It’s virtually impossible to generate reports quickly using a paper-based system. It’s highly unlikely that those using paper-based systems are pulling key maintenance performance metrics like schedule compliance, system availability, planned maintenance percentage, and mean time to repair. A CMMS makes reporting quick and easy. Most modern cloud-based systems have prebuilt reports that can produce the data needed quickly.

CMMS versus pen and paper reporting

Keep up with technology

Right now, your competition is embracing new technologies like predictive maintenance and connected machines to find a competitive advantage. Reliable assets lead to a better quality product, more predictable output, better customer service, and happier customers. If your organisation is still stuck using pen and paper, the variance in terms of effective asset management will get bigger and bigger. The longer you leave it, the bigger the hurdle you’re going to have to jump to catch up.

Fleet maintenance planning

Turn back the clock to 2010 and the paper-based approach is the obvious choice for fleet organisations for several reasons. First, greasy hands and keyboards don’t get on. Secondly, fleet is mobile so it needs a mobile solution. Thirdly, paper is cheaper than installing complex IT hardware.


CMMS versus Pen and Paper – The Bottom Line

However, the year is 2020. CMMS applications are now cloud-based and mobile-enabled. That means you don’t need any expensive IT – any internet-enabled device such as a laptop, tablet, or phone will do. Drivers and mechanics can now complete inspections in the field using the CMMS mobile app as they go. Encase the tablet in a rugged cover and you’ll also protect it from those greasy hands. CMMS software also offers a host of advantages as outlined in this article. Most importantly, it’s one central database of record for all maintenance related activities. In the battle of CMMS versus Pen and Paper, CMMS software makes knowledge sharing, reporting, auditing, a breeze.