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By Dan Hounsell, Editor
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The process of specifying, installing and taking control of a new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is never without its challenges. But when the maintenance and engineering department in question is a 402-person operation that is responsible for more than 3.4 million square feet of space in a campus full of health care facilities, the many challenges involved in the project are greatly magnified.
The facilities operations department at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston undertook such a project in 2009, and the new system went into operation in June 2010.
"The system has actually exceeded many of our expectations," says Bert Gumeringer, director of facilities operations and security services. "But with only five months of operation, we are still learning about the system and its limitations and features."
But as with any kind of project of this complexity and cost, the path from specification and installation to successful operation was rarely a straight line and never without hurdles to clear.
Several issues prompted the hospital to begin the search for a CMMS that could meet the increasing demands of the department and the organization. First, the hospital's legacy CMMS was 10 years old, and the developer no longer supported the software, Gumeringer says. Beyond that, the system was not web-based, and it no longer could properly support the departments many areas of responsibility, which include everything from plant operations and maintenance to energy management, environmental services, patient escort, operations support, and parking and valet services.
"The system wasn't robust enough to meet our future vision for the department," he says. "It was hampering our efforts. Technicians wanted to be able to do handheld work in the field."
In particular, the legacy system did not allow department managers to gather data from front-line technicians' daily activities in the quantity needed to make decisions properly. So the specification process for the new system included a focus on its ability to gather, analyze and report data.
The team researching CMMS options included representatives from bio-medical engineering, facilities operations, facilities planning and development, information systems (IS), and security services. Team members looked for a system that would let managers monitor key performance indicators (KPI) related to department activities. These KPIs included demand work, preventive work, joint commission activity, preventive maintenance (PM) work orders past due, PM compliance, PM percent completion, inspection-completion rate, and facility condition index.
"We wanted to be able to see key indicators of how we were performing as a unit," Gumeringer says. "We wanted a real-time snapshot of what's going on in the plant- maintenance world." Among the additional questions the team addressed during the specification process were these:
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