So, you just purchased a new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Months of careful research, vendor interviews, product demonstrations, and internal meetings are behind you. Now comes the equally important task of implementation—but where do you start? Do you have a plan in place for taking the new system live? Have you dedicated the appropriate internal resources to the project?
Many organizations find it challenging to transition from procurement to the implementation of a new CMMS. Lehigh County Authority (LCA) in eastern Pennsylvania was no exception. The water and wastewater service provider purchased Cityworks in 2015 with the goal of breaking down data silos and improving the care of their recently expanded infrastructure network. Just two years prior, LCA had acquired the City of Allentown system through a concession agreement that not only grew LCA’s employee base but also doubled the number of assets in its care.
However, implementation didn’t become a priority for LCA until 2017. Around this same time, new regulations and operations standards shifted the organization’s focus to the development of a preventive maintenance program. LCA realized that a GIS-centric work management system would be a critical component of the program, but only if they aligned the technology to meet their strategic goals.
1. INVEST IN PERSONNEL
The first step LCA took was to enhance the capabilities of the information technology department to champion the success of the project. IT staff participated in Cityworks training and worked with other departments to set priorities for the project. First, they focused on the development of a structured asset tree, based in GIS, that included the nearly 100 vertical stations in their network.
By the end of 2017, the IT team began conducting discovery interviews with other LCA staff who were long-time CMMS users. They started talking with upper management and quickly moved to boots-on-the-ground employees. During these interviews, it became clear that the IT team needed a stronger CMMS knowledge base internally.
Billy Schanz, who worked at the time as an LCA operation technician, was fully engaged in the success of Cityworks. The IT team brought Schanz on as a CMMS technician to help spearhead the reimplementation initiative, and he has driven much of the progress LCA is experiencing today.
2. ALIGN TECH WITH STRATEGY
Next, LCA had to establish the foundation of their preventative maintenance program. The program’s success relies on the availability of meaningful data to track key performance indicators. Up until early 2018, LCA staff used work order templates with no delineation between preventative maintenance (PM) and corrective maintenance (CM), making it impossible to measure and understand how assets were performing.
So, the IT team worked with engineering and operations staff to clearly define CM and PM for all of the organization’s linear and vertical assets. CM is now defined as any maintenance activity, initiated either through an emergency or routine inspection, that requires repair or replacement. PM is any maintenance activity scheduled on a recurring basis according to internal discussions with engineering and operations as well as recommended maintenance from external suppliers.
From there, the team was able to modify its Cityworks work order templates accordingly. Now, field workers can complete maintenance activities using the Cityworks mobile native app on Androids and Chromebooks; supervisors can track current progress on preventative programs and prioritize corrective maintenance; and managers have the ability to view the organization’s progress through visual dashboards built in Microsoft Power BI.
Some of the early PM programs, such as hydrant and manhole inspections, were quick wins. As those two programs evolved, LCA integrated its CCTV software with Cityworks to capture PM work there. Program after program, LCA delineated between PM and CM work order templates, allowing the organization to successfully measure and understand current practices as well as envision and shift strategic goals.
3. TRAIN, TRAIN, TRAIN
Initially, the IT’s team aggressive development approach to revamping the Cityworks platform caused ripples across the operations teams. The constant change in the platform and work order templates required frequent communication and training to ensure end users were successful in their daily tasks. Since reimplementation, staff using Cityworks has increased from 45 to 75 active users.
Now, two years into the reimplementation process, LCA’s internal Cityworks committee has shifted its focus away from constant change to staff training and system upkeep. With strategic programs and performance measurements in place, the current goal is to encourage ongoing adoption of the platform among new and existing employees.
The IT team designed laminated training cards for all operations staff, and each LCA vehicle is equipped with a set of cards to guide end users through the Cityworks mobile native apps. This quick reference guide allows staff to work through the application at their own pace.
Two-way communication is key to successfully implementing a software platform. The team has conducted numerous training sessions, both small and large, to inform end users of pending updates and technical changes. The IT team also embedded a Survey123 form into the Cityworks inbox to encourage colleagues to share their ideas, challenges, and general comments.
Throughout the entire implementation process, the IT team focused on engaging employees at all levels of the organization to ensure their voices were heard, they were properly trained, and they had access to a product that would fit their needs with ease of use.
ON THE HORIZON
LCA has big goals for the continued development and adoption of a successful CMMS platform, including the implementation of Cityworks Storeroom to help manage the organization’s large material inventory. LCA also plans to integrate its ERP system with Cityworks Service Request module to streamline communication between the customer service team and the operations team. In early 2020, LCA will kick off a project aimed at assigning value to vertical pumps and HVAC systems to accurately calculate the frequency and cost of preventive programs.
Cityworks has provided Lehigh County Authority with a central management system to better understand the organization’s physical environment and assist with important business decisions. With the help of Cityworks and ArcGIS, all teams in the field and the back office have the answers they need at their fingertips to make better planning and emergency decisions.
Chris Moughan is the Lehigh County Authority Chief Information Officer. Mark Bowen is the Lehigh County Authority GIS and Cityworks Manager.