Moving your company from paper to digital recordkeeping
People trust paper records, but paper isn’t easy to share. If you need to know when a machine was last serviced and have to go look it up, if people in your company or shop have to paw through file cabinets or rely on somebody’s memory of what was said a week ago…that isn’t good.
There are plenty of software products out there that can help you make the transition from paper to digital record keeping but making the leap from one to the other takes time and effort. To help you understand what you need to know and what you need to do, we talked with John Kane, product manager at B2W Software.
You need a champion
“To get the ball rolling, assign a technology advocate, an evangelist, who will drive the project from beginning to end,” says Kane. Your evangelist also needs to be able to get buy-in from everyone. He must convince the shop manager that there is value in improving efficiency, show the executive team a positive cost/value equation, and help accounting, estimating and back office staff understand that the system will improve their processes too.
Smart phones and tablets
With a digitally enabled workforce, there’s no getting around the need for smart phones and tablets in the field. “This means you are able to do electronic inspections that can pass defect data to your maintenance software automatically,” says Kane. “The timing is instant, you reduce multiple phone calls and the company becomes more proactive instead of reactive in their maintenance.”
Kane recommends not trying to do it all at once, but rather bring each department up to speed one at a time. “Start with one group, then move to the next,” he says. You’ll also have to assign somebody to input data the company already has, things like maintenance codes, component codes, failure and action codes, employee IDs, and job codes. Getting that right up front is hugely important,” Kane says.
“The connectivity between accounting systems and a CMMS (computerized maintenance management system) is key, especially when you are looking at moving the data between your estimating software, and field tracking, scheduling, dispatching, maintenance and accounting,” says Kane. All of that ties together. Fortunately, there are a lot of systems that will let you import your old data automatically. “But the data that used to be in silos is going to have to flow together,” says Kane. “Companies have to think about how all that data will flow back and forth between different divisions in the company.”
It comes down to culture
Change is hard and making the transition from paper to digital means your company has to have the kind of culture that can embrace change. “It flows from the top,” says Kane. “The executive team has to have bu- in, but that trickles down to the mid-level managers. You have to know who your audience is when you sell this to them, and they have to see the value they will get out of it, whether they are mechanics, foremen, estimators or executives.