Energy & Utility Management

Driving Data & Decisions

Our Take: Gartner Peer Insights and Our Amazing Customers

At M-Files, our goal is to provide knowledge workers with the connected content and intelligent automation they need to empower a smarter way to work. However, we wouldn’t be who we are today without our amazing customers. Our customers are our guiding “why” — and as of today*, we are proud to share that because of them, we have achieved a 4.4 out of 5-star rating in the Content Services category on  Gartner Peer Insights[1], which documents customer experience through verified ratings and peer reviews from enterprise IT professionals.
The satisfaction of our customers has, and always will be, our number one priority. We’re humbled that as of August 1, 2021, 88% of Gartner Peer Insights respondents would recommend M-Files as a Content Services Platform, based on 78 reviews over the past twelve months. We believe achieving such a reputable Gartner Peer Insights rating showcases our on-going commitment to providing customers with new, innovative ways to manage, secure and collaborate around content.
The reviews speak for themselves, and we couldn’t be more humbled our customers think so highly of us:
  • “It is a mastermind software to have when it comes to managing data. I have used M-Files for a long time and I am completely satisfied with the breadth of functionalities it offers.” – Consultant, Services [read full review]
  • “One of the best document management system available in market. Easy to store and manage large files in this application. Collaboration made easy with this application.” – Senior Analyst, Services [read full review]
  • “M-Files is one of the best content management software which lets users to create, manage and store the data. The product is very easy to use and implement.” – Analyst, Services [read full review]
  • “M-Files is a document management software where users can firstly and quickly manage and organize electronic documents. The user interface is very good and the user can perform the multi-task at one time directly from the central dashboard.” – Software Engineer, Services [read full review]
We strive to provide a modern approach to information management that increases the productivity of knowledge workers, ensures a seamless digital experience, strengthens collaboration, enables business continuity, and reduces business risk. Over this past year, it has been our greatest pleasure helping organizations navigate, control, and manage overwhelming amounts of data brought on by digital transformation and the pandemic. We are humbled our customers see the value in our metadata-driven approach and look forward to helping our customers continue to see greater productivity and ROIs across their organizations. *August 1, 2021, based on 78 reviews [1]  Gartner Peer Insights reviews constitute the subjective opinions of individual end users based on their own experiences and do not represent the views of Gartner or its affiliates. Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/our-take-gartner-peer-insights-and-our-amazing-customers

10 insanely useful metrics to improve your maintenance analysis

Maintenance analysis has changed a lot over the last decade or so. New tools and technology have increased our ability to collect and interpret data. It’s enabled us to make informed decisions that wouldn’t have been possible 10 years ago.

But if our understanding of maintenance analysis has changed, why do we still rely on the same handful of metrics we did 40 or 50 years ago?

Metrics like overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and mean time to repair (MTTR) dominate almost every list of go-to industry measurements. But experts agree that they’re flawed. Not only are these traditional metrics prone to bias and inaccuracy, but they also often don’t have a purpose. And when data doesn’t have a purpose, you can’t use it to make key decisions, like whether to hire an extra technician or increase the frequency of a task.

That’s why we’ve put together 10 useful metrics you won’t see on any other list and some tips for how to use them to improve your maintenance program.

10 maintenance metrics for better maintenance analysis

#1 – Time spent supporting production

What is it?: The total time that the maintenance team spends on production-focused activities. Usually measured weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

How can you use it?: Everyone has to pitch in to complete a big order once in a while. But when once in a while turns into every day, maintenance suffers. This metric helps you catch an unhealthy backlog before it happens and reallocate resources to prevent it. It also helps you advocate for a higher headcount on your team or an increased training budget to help production staff learn minor maintenance tasks.

#2 – Follow-up work created after inspections

What is it?: The number of corrective work orders created from routine inspections. Usually measured monthly, quarterly, or annually.

How can you use it?: There are many different ways you can use this metric for maintenance analysis. You can sort it by machine, shift, or site to get insights into how your assets or team are performing. But the most useful is by task.

It’s a good sign when regular preventive maintenance includes follow-up repairs. It means your schedule is accurate and that you’re preventing bigger problems. It allows you to flag common repairs and build processes to make them more efficient. For example, you can create parts kits for quicker access.

If the failed inspection percentage is low, you can increase preventive maintenance intervals. This will reduce the amount of time and money spent on tasks without increasing risk.

#3 – Cost of follow-up maintenance vs expected cost of total failure

What is it?: A comparison between the cost of corrective maintenance (i.e. labor and parts) and the cost of asset failure if maintenance is not done (i.e. lost production, labor, and parts).

How can you use it?: Use this type of maintenance analysis to plan your maintenance strategy. For example, if regular inspections cost you more than failure, you can likely go with a run-to-failure approach for an asset over a preventive one.

You can also use this metric to prioritize tasks and backlog, and figure out how to allocate your budget.

How to decide if you should invest in regular PMs on an asset

#4 – Cost by maintenance type

What is it?: The total cost of maintenance (i.e. labor and parts) by maintenance type (ie. preventive, emergency, follow-up). Usually measured monthly, quarterly, and/or annually.

How can you use it?: Higher costs are usually the result of broken processes. This view allows you to find out which processes need work so you can increase efficiency.

For example, are work orders unclear and leading to increased repair times and labor costs? Try clarifying instructions.

Are you bringing outside contractors in to do emergency repairs? You could invest in more training for your team or hire a specialist.

#5 – Clean start-ups after maintenance

What is it?: The number of times a production line starts without stoppages or waste after completed maintenance. This is measured monthly, quarterly, and annually.

How can you use it?: Include this metric in your maintenance analysis to draw a direct line between your team’s work and increased output.

If clean start-ups are low, it gives you another chance to spot problems in your processes. For example, you might find that the specs for a production line may be out of date. This will lead technicians to rebuild components incorrectly and the line to stall. Updating the specs is a simple tweak that could lead to higher output.

#6 – Size of backlog

What is it?: The total number of hours of overdue and scheduled maintenance tasks. Track this metric weekly and monthly.

How can you use it?: This metric can be a godsend when it comes to getting your team some much-needed relief. Quantify the gap between available labor hours and your total backlog hours. You might find that the amount of backlog far outpaces how much your team can do. Use that to make a case for more budget to spend on extra overtime, hiring another technician, or bringing in more contractors.

#7 – Top 10 assets by downtime

What is it?: This is your heavy hitters list—the equipment that breaks down most often or takes the longest to repair. Keep tabs on these assets weekly, monthly, and quarterly.

How can you use it?: This metric keeps your biggest problems visible. You might raise an eyebrow at that, but highly visible problems get solved the fastest. This kind of maintenance analysis can help you prioritize your problem-solving efforts, make decisions quickly, and measure their impact.

For example, if you know asset A is at the top of your downtime list, you can start by isolating the reason why. Is it because repairs take longer on that asset? Is work being delayed? Does that piece of equipment break down again and again?

The answer to these questions will give you an idea of how to prevent failure in the future. You might get rid of obsolete parts that keep breaking. Or put an extra technician on a job. Or clarify how much lubrication should be used on a bearing. If all else fails, conducting this type of maintenance analysis helps justify a capital expenditure on new equipment.

#8 – Planned maintenance percentage (last 90 days)

What is it?: The ratio of planned maintenance to all other types of maintenance over the last 90 days.

How can you use it?: This is a measure of progress. Going from reactive to planned maintenance doesn’t happen overnight. The time frame allows you to make a clear connection between action and results. You can draw a line between what happened and its impact on your end goals.

For example, if your percentage has dropped, you can look at what happened in the last 90 days to cause that drop. That could be a massive, unexpected breakdown. Or an increase in production support during the busy season. If you want to increase the percentage, try creating a better work request process to uncover problems earlier. Or shorten inspection intervals on assets with the highest instances of unexpected downtime.

#9 – Wrench time (last 90 days)

What is it?: The amount of time technicians spend working on a piece of equipment as part of the total time it takes to complete a job. This is usually measured by job or as a weekly, monthly, and quarterly average.

How can you use it?: Wrench time is a common tool for maintenance analysis, but it’s often used the wrong way. Technicians usually (and unfairly) get the blame for low-wrench time. It leads to wrench time inflation as technicians fudge the numbers to avoid trouble.

Low wrench time usually has its roots in broken processes, not the ability of the technician. That leads to bigger backlogs, more reactive maintenance, and avoidable labor costs.

To use wrench time in your maintenance analysis, start with the jobs that have the lowest scores. Review these jobs step-by-step with technicians. Work together to find out where unclear or incomplete processes cause delays. You’ll spot bottlenecks easier when breaking the task down into smaller pieces. The result is more value for your team’s time and money.

Common reasons wrench time is low and how to fix them

#10 – Health and safety work orders completed

What is it?: The number of work orders completed for health and safety or compliance purposes. This is usually tracked monthly, quarterly, and annually.

How can you use it?: Some metrics are quantitative. Others are qualitative. This one is the latter. And it’s essential for measuring the performance of your maintenance team and the impact it has on your business. A safe workplace keeps accidents low, and productivity and morale high. Passing audits and remaining compliant is crucial to staff safety and avoiding fines.

Three big goals you can accomplish by combining these metrics

All the metrics mentioned above are powerful in their own right. But when combined, they supercharge your maintenance analysis and help you achieve three common goals:

Get a bigger budget and more time for maintenance

Metrics to combine:

  • Cost by maintenance type
  • Clean start-ups after maintenance
  • Top 10 assets by downtime

Getting more money and time for maintenance means winning over whoever divvies up the budget, and whoever leads production. The quickest way to get them on board is to align your plan with their goals. The three metrics above will help you get there.

First, highlight the cost-benefit of preventive maintenance. Regular preventive maintenance might seem expensive. But just one instance of emergency maintenance can cost up to $250,000. If you’re tracking cost by maintenance type, you can highlight how much the company is losing with reactive maintenance, and how much it can save you by investing in preventive maintenance.

Next, it’s time to sway the production team. Use clean start-ups after maintenance to show production that you have their best interests in mind. It emphasizes what is good for maintenance is often good for production.

No one is going to give you more resources without a plan. Your list of bad actors is a blueprint for how you’re going to make the most of your extra time and money. It quantifies the problem and makes it very clear where you’ll focus your efforts.

Get your maintenance team to buy into change

Metrics to combine:

  • Planned maintenance percentage (90 days)
  • Wrench time (last 90 days)
  • Follow-up work created after inspections

Change sucks. And that makes it hard for your team to get on board with a new system or process. The best way to change the mind of naysayers is to show them how your plan is eliminating their biggest pains. Tracking the metrics above is one way to do this.

These data points give you a chance to compare how you operated before a change (i.e. lots of reactive maintenance and frustration over guesswork) and what you’ve accomplished since implementing a new system or process. Seeing the pay-off first-hand makes it easier to convert any critics and expand your project, whether it’s setting up a CMMS or allowing machine operators to do routine maintenance.

Build a preventive maintenance program that would make most other companies jealous

Metrics to combine:

  • Cost by maintenance type
  • Follow-up work created after inspections
  • Cost of follow-up maintenance vs expected cost of total failure

The best preventive maintenance programs don’t have the most PMs. Instead, they have the most efficient PMs. That means doing the right work at the right time. These metrics will help you achieve this balance.

Measuring cost by maintenance type helps you allocate resources to preventive tasks and gauge the efficiency of your PMs. You can track if cost-cutting strategies are working and make sure they’re not leading to reactive costs down the line.

Keeping tabs on follow-up work is one way to optimize PM frequencies. If an inspection isn’t leading to corrective work, you can increase inspection intervals. That means you can use fewer labor hours and parts, and spend that money and time elsewhere. Similarly, comparing the costs of corrective maintenance and total failure ensures you’re not spending money on proactive tasks that aren’t worth it.

The best maintenance analysis is constantly evolving

The best maintenance metrics have a purpose. They are collected and used consistently. They guide decisions and inform you on how to run your maintenance program on a daily basis. This is the backbone of successful maintenance analysis.

On the flip side, all maintenance analysis is a work in progress. Revisit your metrics on a regular basis to make sure they’re still relevant to your goals and the way your maintenance team works. Some of the metrics listed above might work for you now, but you might find others are more effective in six months. Or maybe five years.

Lastly, the best maintenance analysis incorporates data that other departments find useful. If you can connect the metrics above to solve the challenges of other business units, you’ll be well on your way to creating a world-class maintenance program.

Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/10-metrics-for-better-maintenance-analysis/

The 3 Main Types of Content Services: Collaborative, Archival and Transactional

Over the past few years, content services have fallen into one of two different categories: transactional or collaborative. Transactional content, as the name suggests, directly relates to the case management content that businesses are working with on a daily basis. Collaborative content, on the other hand, has to do with all of those project-related documents that people are tracking to actively do their jobs.

In the past, both of these would have been handled by way of an enterprise content management system, otherwise known as an ECM for short. Unfortunately, this had led people to attempt to divide up their workflows based on which technologies help to solve their content problems. In reality, things would be much more productive if efforts were divided up based on the content type they were working with.

To that end, there are three main content types that any modern enterprise needs to be aware of: collaborative content, archival content and transactional content.

The Building Blocks of Collaborative Content

As stated, the first main type of content that most enterprises work with has to do with collaborative content. That is, the type of content that exists in the types of systems that people use to more efficiently work with one another on projects. Examples of these systems include but are not limited to ones like Slack, Teams and even “old school” email collaboration.

The purpose of these systems is clear: they’re supposed to optimize the way people work together.

The issue is that especially in the fast-paced modern era we’re currently living through, collaborative content is the type that is most likely to get “lost” over time. People are collaborating on so many different documents across so many systems that organizations don’t really have a sense of what they have – let alone where it happens to be.

Their collaborative content is growing faster than they realize and, coupled with a lack of efficient storage and effective categorization, means that most businesses are soon left with a large stockpile of content and no real way to make sense of it all.

Archival (Read: Old) Content

This segues directly into the next most common type of content: archival content. This refers to those documents or other materials that may not have a pressing short-term need, but that businesses still don’t want to just get rid of.

Usually, archival content is either that which has been retired from an ECM solution or that which has been gleaned from file shares, collaborative solutions, and other areas where people just get overloaded with content.

To successfully manage an archival system, people need to be able to identify and categorize content, all so that they can determine when it is best to permanently dispose of it. Automatic metadata classification tools are essential to that end, as they not only help sort high-quality data from its low-quality counterparts, but they can also help remove duplicate content and solve other challenges.

The Era of Transactional Content

Finally, we arrive at the idea of transactional content: that is, content services that are built to support all of these different content systems. Solutions like M-Files bring the best of CRM, ERP, and even custom case management systems together, all in a way that breaks down data silos and makes sure that businesses have complete visibility over their enterprise at all times.

The main benefit here is that employees can work within just a single system and have access to all of the critical data they need, regardless of where that data is housed. Not only do you still maintain the benefit of allowing people to better work together, but they can do so remotely from literally any device on Earth with an active Internet connection. Here, data is stored externally from the moment of its creation – meaning that anytime, anywhere access to key insights and other important documents is all but a forgone conclusion.

In the end, it’s important to understand your options when picking the right content services and solutions to meet the ever-changing needs of your business. When executed properly, most employees shouldn’t be interacting with content services directly. They shouldn’t have to use seven different systems just to get work done on a single file.

They should have access to a single point that gives them everything they need to interact with their content and conduct business, all while staying in sync with the rest of the enterprise as well. That’s why solutions like M-Files are so essential: they go a long way towards guaranteeing precisely that.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/the-three-main-types-of-content-services-collaborative-archival-and-transactional

M-Files and Hubshare: Delivering a Best-in-Class Digital Client Experience

A key component of most successful organizations is truly seamless collaboration. Oftentimes, there is a tendency to think about collaboration with an internal focus – is everyone at my company able to collaborate? While that is certainly an important part of the equation, of equal or greater importance is the ability for companies to effectively collaborate with their customers and clients. Within the bounds of a single organization, it is possible to deploy a standard set of tools and processes that help aid in fostering a collaborative environment that is efficient, secure, and controlled. Outside those “walls”? Well, that’s another story. A confusing mix of email attachments, various file sync and share solutions, SharePoint repositories, and collaboration apps like Teams and Slack can create more complications than valuable connections. Relying on a hodgepodge mix of point solutions to share files, manage electronic signatures, or review project documents limit productivity and can increase business risk. Things can be simpler, intuitive, and more secure. M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. We feel like we’ve made great strides to meet that mission head-on and integrating Hubshare into our product portfolio is a key component of fully realizing our mission. Getting the right documents and information to the right people, when they need it, no matter where they are. With Hubshare, we are expanding that reach to include external parties and clients. Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management. Businesses can quickly and easily customize each portal to their client or project needs and provide users and external parties access to documents, processes, people, discussions, and more. The environment for Professional Services and client-facing companies is fraught with challenges. Meeting and exceeding client expectations in an ever-evolving business landscape while ensuring workforce productivity is no small feat. Over the last year, we’ve all learned how important is to remain flexible and agile. The good news is that there are powerful solutions that can help your organization and your clients’ businesses thrive, no matter what lies ahead. Contact us to learn more about how M-Files and Hubshare can strengthen your external content sharing capabilities and help you deliver best-in-class digital client experiences. Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/m-files-and-hubshare-delivering-a-best-in-class-digital-client-experience

M-Files Acquires Hubshare to Strengthen External Content Sharing and Collaboration, Deliver Best-in-Class Digital Client Experiences

M-Files, the intelligent information management company, today announced the acquisition of Hubshare to bolster external content sharing and collaboration and deliver an improved digital client experience. Hubshare offers a secure digital workplace portal that enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file sharing, and project management.

Now part of the M-Files product portfolio, Hubshare provides a secure information exchange platform where companies can be forerunners in driving digitalization and improving the customer experience using branded, customizable client portals. The portals can be quickly and easily tailored to meet individual client needs which drive collaboration and productivity.

“The Hubshare acquisition helps us deliver a unique digital client experience and better serve knowledge worker industries such as Professional Services, where information sharing and external collaboration are critical requirements,” said Antti Nivala, founder, and CEO at M‑Files. “Our integrated offering takes M‑Files from the back office to the frontline of our customer’s business, helping provide a digital window for our customer’s clients as they drive digitization across the organizations they serve.”

Unlike typical file sync-based document portal solutions where information is copied from an enterprise content repository, M-Files now offers a secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration without data duplication. While the M-Files user experience is optimized for streamlining internal document management processes, the new Hubshare hub in M-Files provides key information such as documents, people, processes, discussions, and more to external users, such as clients, via a branded portal that is optimized for an improved external user experience. This helps strengthen customer satisfaction with a better and more compliant collaboration experience.

“Today, with the announcement of our acquisition, we celebrate our common vision and goal of making work smarter and collaboration more efficient for our clients,” said Nicholas Child, CEO, Hubshare. “Our combined offering will undoubtedly benefit organizations across the globe seeking a more secure and integrated solution for internal and external collaboration. We are delighted to be an integral part of the M-Files journey, delivering our digital client experience and collaborative workspace solution alongside the visionary M-Files intelligent information management platform.”

M-Files’ mission is to profoundly improve how companies do business in the digital, work-from-anywhere world. M-Files connects siloed systems, applications, and repositories and provides a full view of all relevant information across an organization. Delivering connected content and intelligent automation, M-Files increases the productivity of knowledge workers, ensures a seamless digital experience, enables business continuity, and reduces business risk.

About M-Files Corporation

M-Files’ AI-powered intelligent information management solution connects all documents and information, across every platform and repository, then analyzes them to place them in context. This makes it possible to serve up the right information to the right people right when they need it—and automate information-driven business processes—while maintaining complete control and compliance. Thousands of organizations in more than 100 countries (including NBC Universal, OMV, SAS Institute, and ThyssenKrupp) use M-Files to manage their business information and processes—and give their employees A Smarter Way to Work. For more information, visit http://www.m-files.com.

M-Files is a registered trademark of M-Files Corporation. All other registered trademarks belong to their respective owners.

About Hubshare

Hubshare enhances user and client engagement through collaborative working, secure file-sharing, and project management. The solution provides an all-in-one, flexible, and customizable digital workspace that allows unlimited customer-specific portals, each one unique to each customer’s requirements. Hubshare helps its worldwide users boost their productivity and facilitate external and internal collaboration. Hubshare has offices in France and distributors in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, and North America, and resellers in numerous other countries.

source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/m-files-acquires-hubshare-to-strengthen-external-content-sharing-and-collaboration-deliver-best-in-class-digital-client-experiences-2

Where bad maintenance data comes from and how you can fix it

Not all maintenance data is created equal

Data: It’s the backbone of any maintenance program. It’s what you use to measure success. It tells you what assets need more attention and how that will impact your schedule. It’s what helps you survive maintenance audits unscathed. In short, data is the language that helps you tell the story of your maintenance team.

But not all data is created equal. And it could be that yours is failing to say what it needs to. Jason Afara, a Senior Solutions Engineer at Fiix, experienced this when he was a maintenance manager.

“We had more technicians than we did CMMS licenses, so we had people logging in after they had already completed a work order, just trying to fill in all the details they could remember,” he says. “We were always trying to catch up, and that impacted our credibility.”

The cost of bad maintenance data

That’s just it—when your data is off, it’s harder to go to bat for your team. It’s not as easy to justify buying a new piece of equipment, trade production time for maintenance or make a new hire if the data isn’t there to support that request.

It can impact your team on a day-to-day basis as well. For example, a technician might wait until the end of the day to log completed work. This gap in time could lead them to misremember how long it took them to do a job. Maybe they round down. No big deal, right? Except it is.

That one mistake could cause a domino effect. The next time you go to schedule that job, you plan less time for it. Now the technician is rushing to complete the work, increasing risk for both them and the machine. You’ll also lowball the cost of labor hours in your budget, putting you in a tricky situation with your finances.

Bad data and its consequences

Let’s dive into where your data can go wrong, and how you can audit it to start steering things in the right direction.

Where bad maintenance data begins

Bad data is often born from the best intentions. That makes it hard to spot. But there will always be a silver lining to go along with these issues—you have a data-driven culture. You know the numbers are key and the insight you get from them is even more valuable. That’s the most important ingredient for finding and eliminating bad data.

Here are two aspects of maintenance programs that most often contribute to bad or incomplete data.

Trying to boil the ocean

A lot of maintenance teams try to do too much, too soon with their data. Having the ability to track things is great, but if you don’t have a well-thought-out plan in place for what you’re going to measure—and why—you’ll run into problems.

It’s an easy trap to fall into. The advent of IIoT technology, like sensors that track every second of an asset’s behaviour, has introduced seemingly infinite ways to capture data. The trouble for maintenance managers doesn’t come from having too much data, but from not knowing how to pull out the data that matters.

Brandon De Melo, a Customer Success Manager at Fiix, puts it this way, “Let’s say you have a sensor that’s pulling machine data. That’s great, but you can’t stop there. You have to consider all the things that factor into that data, like downtime or other external factors that could affect it.”

Not thinking critically about metrics

Every maintenance team is held to certain KPIs—but are they the right ones? As Stuart Fergusson, Fiix’s Director of Solutions Engineering, points out, it can be easy to get caught in a cycle of tracking a number like labour hours simply because it’s the metric that comes from your boss (or their boss).

It’s important to take a critical lens to maintenance metrics and really think about whether they should be measured.

“At the end of the day, you need to be measuring the metrics that support your department,” says Fergusson. “Not enough people understand why they’re measuring what they’re measuring.”

Where bad maintenance data lives

We know what contributes to bad data, but where does it show up? Bad data is really good at blending in with clean data, so it’s not always obvious. But knowing the telltale signs of inaccurate information will help you spot it without pouring over dozens of reports. Here are the most common places where you can find bad maintenance data.

In your storeroom

Bad data can lurk alongside bearings and motors on the shelves of your storeroom. There are a few ways this can happen.

Firstly, it’s easy to have an out-of-date inventory count if you have obsolete parts sitting on shelves. If you don’t check in on your inventory to make sure it matches up with what’s actually available, you’ll run into problems when you have to pay for a part you weren’t expecting.

And then there’s the danger of fudging the numbers to make the bottom line look better.

“Let’s say it’s near the end of the month and you have to replace a $3,000 part,” says Afara.

“Some maintenance managers will say, ‘You know what? Let’s just wait for that repair so it actually hits our books next month.’ It turns into a bit of a game.” This hesitation can negatively impact the whole business if what’s in the books is valued over what’s actually needed to improve production.”

In your preventive maintenance schedule

Every maintenance team has their regular PMs—but how many of them are actually necessary?

“Maintenance can get really emotional really quickly,” says Afara. “You’ll have what’s called an emotional PM, where the team is doing a regular check just because there was a failure six plant managers ago and no one’s changed it.”

When maintenance teams inherit PMs, it’s easy not to question it, but it’s easy to see how things can snowball and tell an inaccurate story of which work actually needs to be done.

In your work order and asset histories

It doesn’t take much for data to go haywire when documenting work. Attention tends to go to the wrong places when a plant’s priorities are out of sorts.

“What commonly happens is, there’s such a focus on technician time,” says Afara. “A message comes from the top that every minute needs to be accounted for, and the result is that technicians are just making up time on work orders to show that they’ve done the eight hours they’ve been asked to.”

As we touched on earlier, the root problem here is a lack of specific planning. You’re worrying about the metric at the expense of strategy, which results in data that doesn’t tell the truth and can’t be used to drive real change.

In your reports

Every data set has its spikes and dips. The important part is how you’re making sense of the fluctuations that show up in your maintenance reports.

“Do you actually have anything in place to explain why, for example, a drop can happen in September and then happen again in January?” says De Melo.

Without critical analysis or an understanding of what contributed to an anomaly in the data, tracking those fluctuations is useless. You need to understand what happened before you can begin to understand what you could have done differently.

How to audit maintenance data

Now that we have a clearer picture of where maintenance data can go wrong, how can you start fixing it?

The answer will be different for each team, but the right place to start is wherever you’re having a problem with no way to explain why you’re having it.

“Let’s say you can’t figure out why you have so much unplanned downtime, and looking at the data isn’t helping you at all,” says De Melo.

“In this scenario, you’d want to talk to the production manager and start asking questions like, ‘How is this being tracked? Is there a system in place?’ There will always be a process of tracking down the right information, but you can’t just sit there and just twiddle your thumbs, hoping that the answer is going to come to you.”

In terms of creating a data audit checklist, again, your best bet is to approach it from a strategic perspective.

“Sit with some key stakeholders, like plant managers and technicians, and do some brainstorming around what you want to improve and understand better,” says De Melo.

“Once you know what you’re looking for, you can build a checklist that makes sense.”

The best maintenance data is data with a purpose

Taking a critical and thoughtful approach to auditing your maintenance data ensures that everything you’re tracking and analyzing is being examined for a reason. This helps you understand how each piece of data is connected. Then you can make actual improvements to your maintenance program instead of making smaller, less impactful changes around the margins.

“If you really understand your maintenance activity, everything else is just going to flow in behind it,” says Fergusson.

“Your plant leadership may not understand maintenance backlog or OT, but when you tell them that delaying a maintenance window is going to cost another $250,000 in our plant maintenance budget because of X, Y, Z, and you have the right data to back it up, they’ll listen.”

When all is said and done, the data is the easy part.

“If you have the culture and the metrics and the right people and processes in place to track everything, and you just don’t have the actual data, no problem. You can get that up and running in a week,” says Fergusson.

“More often, though, it’s the opposite. You have all the data, it’s all flowing somewhere, and everybody’s looking at different pieces of it, but none of it’s building to a true story.”

source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/blog/how-to-improve-your-maintenance-data/

5 Best Security Practices for Remote Teams During Coronavirus and Beyond

Social distancing measures taken by responsible employers have greatly increased the number of employees working remotely. Even in the midst of this crisis, some companies and their employees can enjoy the objective benefits of not having to waste time and money on long commutes. At the same time, plenty of businesses really didn’t have the structure in place to support a vast, full-time work-at-home workforce with the security of business processes they needed.

Remote Workforce Security Challenges During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Because employees or departments scrambled for ad-hoc solutions to remote working, they sometimes sacrificed robust security to get up and running as quickly as possible. Sadly, cybercriminals can also work from home or other remote locations, and many saw the rise in remote workers as an opportunity.

For example, one survey of security professionals found:

  •  A majority of security employees struggled to offer strong security solutions to remote employees.
  • At the same time, almost half of the respondents reported seeing an increase in phishing attempts.
  • Most of these corporate security pros had concerns about their ability to scale security, respond to abrupt environmental changes, and the difficultly of controlling employee use of unknown and untested software.

Five Best Security Practices for Remote Employees

With the increase in cyberthreats and the concerns of security professionals in mind, it’s a good idea to consider some best practices to help keep business systems free of threats and just as important, to ensure compliance with rules that govern privacy and security in different industries.

1. Two-Factor Authentication

With two-factor authentication, sometimes called 2FA, users have to finish their login with a code that gets sent to another device, typically a cell phone. It takes a few seconds longer to access the system, but it provides better protection against phishing attacks. One CTO found that this simple measure reduced security problems in his company by almost 40 percent.

2. Use Secure Connections

Obviously, most of these home workers will rely upon their home Wi-Fi connections. Without any other protections, your security will only be as good as whatever the employee’s home internet company, router, and password can provide. To boost security, you might have employees log in through a VPN or other method of encrypting communication between their home device and your corporate systems.

3. Endpoint Security and Monitoring

No matter how well you protect logins and communication, you still can’t always avoid the threat of malicious code entering your system. On your server end, you can employ software to block threats and monitor system usages.

Even though most threats may stem from accidental vulnerabilities, it’s impossible to ignore the rise of inside jobs as a source of risks. Not only will these systems provide a firewall against malicious software, they can also send automatic alerts for unusual data use and provide a clear audit trail just in case something does happen.

4. Develop and Create Clear Security Policies

Even before the coronavirus outbreak, companies grappled with security issues that stemmed from remote workers and the rising use of personal devices.

For example:

  • In some cases, you may allow personal devices, so long as employees adhere to other security policies. For instance, you may require installation of approved security software and only let employees login to your network through your corporate VPN.
  • In other cases, you may ask employees in sensitive areas to only use the laptops or other devices that you have issued to them and to only use them in approved ways. For example, you may restrict these company-issued devices to work and not allow employees to use them to watch videos or browse social sites.

In any case, it’s important to develop clear policies. In addition to communicating these rules, you should also ensure that employees understand why they’re important and that they can incur consequences for ignoring them.

5. Deploy Secure Information Systems

Deploying intelligent and robust document and data management systems may not take as much of an effort as you think it will. These systems come designed and built to offer robust security and rule-based access for both in-house and remote workers. They also provide audit trails and guarantee recoverability, so if something suspicious happens, it’s easy to trace the issue to its source and remediate it.

How M-Files Offers the Best Solution for Remote and In-House Employees

Companies that already employed a smart data management system like M-Files didn’t have to worry about an abrupt change from working in a corporate office to a home office.

For example:

  • Access to documents could already have been set by role, so the people who needed information would have an easy time accessing it, according to their security levels. To others, that same information would be invisible. The right people could view, change, add, or delete information, and others would not even see it exists.
  • With built-in encrypted access and simple rollbacks for recoveribility, M-Files also has already been certifed as an ISO-27001 Certified Provider. This standard meets the requirements for the most sensitive data and systems.

Besides security, the intelligent features of M-Files can help improve your business processes. To learn how M-Files can help protect your business, employees, and information, schedule a custom demo today.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/5-best-security-practices-for-remote-teams-during-coronavirus-and-beyond

Take an Investigator-Led Approach to Digital Forensic Investigations

A recent article published in The Guardian highlighted ‘bias’ on the part of digital forensic examiners when examining seized media. In the original study, the authors found that when 53 examiners were asked to review the same piece of digital evidence, their results differed based on contextual information they were provided at the outset. Interestingly, whilst some of the ‘evidence’ for which they would base their findings was easy to find (such as in emails and chats) other ‘traces’ were not. These required deeper analysis, such as identifying the history of USB device activity. One of the things that struck me was that the 53 examiners were all provided with a very short brief of what the case was about (intellectual property theft) and what they were tasked to find (or not find), including a copy of a spreadsheet containing the details of individuals who had been ‘leaked’ to a competitor. This immediately reminded me of my first weeks within the police hi-tech crime unit (or computer examination unit as it was called). I vividly remember eagerly greeting the detective bringing a couple of computers in for examination into suspected fraud. I got him to fill in our submission form – some basic details about the case, main suspects, victims, date ranges, etc. I even helped him complete the section on search terms and then signed the exhibits in before cheerily telling him that I’d get back to him in the next few weeks (this was in the days before backlogs…). As I returned from the evidence store, I was surprised to find that same detective back in the office being ‘questioned’ by my Detective Sergeant. “John,” as we will call him (because that was his name), an experienced detective with over 25 years on the job, was asking all sorts of questions about the case:
  • Who were his associates?
  • What other companies is he involved in?
  • Does he have any financial troubles?
  • Is he a gambler?
  • Did you seize any other exhibits?
  • Does he have a diary?
  • How many properties does he own?
The list went on. In fact, it was over an hour before John felt that he had sufficient information to allow the detective to leave. Following the questioning, John took me aside and told me that whilst we used the paperwork to record basic information about the case – it was incumbent on us to find out as much information as possible to ensure that we were best placed to perform our subsequent examination. My takeway? You can never ask too many questions – in particular, those of the ‘who, where, when’ variety.

HAS DIGITAL FORENSICS CHANGED SINCE THEN?

Given the rapid development in technology since those early days in digital forensics, you would think the way agencies perform reviews of digital evidence would have, well, kept up? I recently watched a very interesting UK ‘fly on the wall’ TV series (Forensics:The Real CSI) that followed police as they go about their daily work (I do like a good busman’s holiday) and one episode showed a digital forensic examiner tasked to recover evidence from a seized mobile phone and laptop in relation to a serious offence. “I’ve been provided some case-relevant keywords,” he said, “which the officer feels may be pertinent towards the case.” “Murder, kill, stab, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat … and for those keywords I’ve searched for, there is potentially just under 1,500 artifacts that I’ll have to start scrolling through.” Wait, what? “Have I been transported back to the 90s?” I thought as I watched in (partial) disbelief and was again transported back and reminded of John’s sage advice all those years ago about asking lots of questions. Whilst I understand that the show’s director was no doubt using the scenes to add suspense and tell the story in the most impactful way possible, there is no getting away from the fact that the digital forensic examiner was working with limited information about the case and with some terrible keywords. Yes, they can (and no doubt did off-camera) pick up the phone to the Officer in the Case (OIC) to ask further questions … surely, the OIC is the one who will see a document or email (that perhaps hasn’t been found by keyword searching) and see a name or address within it and immediately shout “Stop! That’s important!” The OIC will recognize the suspect in a holiday photograph having a beer with another suspect who they swear blind they’ve never met.

FOCUSING ON THE RIGHT EVIDENCE

How does this all tie back into the research I mentioned at the outset? The various ‘traces of evidence’ the examiners were tasked to find were both ‘hidden in plain sight’ and required skilled forensic analysis in order to identify and interpret their meaning. If the digital forensic examiner spends most of their precious time reviewing emails and documents – in the real world – will they have the time to perform the skilled digital forensics work to build the true picture of what happened? If the OIC is only provided with material to review based on such basic keyword analysis or a couple of paragraphs that detail a very high-level overview into the case – will the smoking gun holiday snap make it into the review set? Expert commentary in the article suggests that “Digital forensics examiners need to acknowledge that there’s a problem and take measures to ensure they’re not exposed to irrelevant, biased information. They also need to be transparent to the courts about the limitations and the weaknesses, acknowledging that different examiners may look into the same evidence and draw different conclusions.” A spokesperson for the National Police Chiefs’ Council is quoted saying “Digital forensics is a growing and important area of policing which is becoming increasingly more prominent as the world changes … We are always looking at how technology can add to our digital forensic capabilities and a national programme is already working on this.” Nuix is keen to support this national program and I truly believe that our investigator-led approach to reviewing digital evidence by using Nuix Investigate is the way toward helping to put the evidence into the hands of those who are best placed to make sense of it (the easier ‘traces’ as per the study). Doing so allows the digital forensic examiners to focus on the harder ‘traces’ – such as undertaking deep-dive forensic analysis or ascertaining the provenance of relevant artifacts. Please note. No digital forensic examiners were harmed in the writing of this blog – and I fully appreciate the hard work they do in helping to protect the public and bringing offenders to justice, often working under significant pressures and with limited resources and budgets. Source: https://www.nuix.com/blog/take-investigator-led-approach-digital-forensic-investigations

What is Workflow Automation?

While it’s absolutely true that a lot of your business processes are important, they also expose your organization to a wide range of potential issues that you may not even realize.

Every manual process performed by one of your actual human employees leaves open the possibility for productivity bottlenecks. Things are getting done, but they’re just not getting done as quickly as they should. It also creates the potential for miscommunications — two people involved in the same process just weren’t on the same page and now they’ve suffered a major setback because of it. The mishandling of information, low employee morale, you name it — these are the hidden costs of those tedious manual processes.

But the good news is that it is possible to make sure that all of this work gets done in a way that allows you to avoid every one of the issues outlined above. It’s called workflow automation and if your organization hasn’t already begun to explore its wide range of benefits, now would be an excellent time to start.

What is Workflow Automation? An Overview

At its core, workflow automation involves both the digitization and automation of business processes, all in an effort to reduce the amount of manual labor required by your employees as much as possible.

All told, there are a wide range of different types of workflows that are prime candidates for automation. These include but are certainly not limited to ones like:

  • Filing or making changes to documents with a consistent structure.
  • Reviewing and approving changes that have been made to documents.
  • Notifying people (like team leaders) when a change to a document has been made by an employee.
  • Processing accounts payable or similar administrative functions.
  • The management of records retention and document storage.
  • Executing process management reports.
  • And much, much more.

With an intelligent document management solution like M-Files, for example, you can make sure that documents are always routed to the correct person when they’re created or when certain status changes have been made. If you have a single document that needs to be approved by 10 team leaders before it can make its way to a client, for example, the employee who created that document shouldn’t have to spend time chasing down every single one of them to keep things moving. With workflow automation, each of those team leaders can be instantly notified that there is a document that needs to be signed off on and once they do, it continues to move further and further down the line.

Likewise, many workflow automation solutions allow you to monitor, report on and even analyze your current business processes — all to help capitalize on opportunities for improvement on an ongoing basis. Many provide reporting dashboards, for example, that allow process managers to view each step of a particular business workflow in fine detail. This puts them in a better position to eliminate the types of performance bottlenecks that cost time and money, thus improving those processes in meaningful ways.

They even offer the ability to show users a full history of all business process steps, confirming beyond the shadow of a doubt that automation software is getting the job done in a way far more efficient than humans could on their own.

In a larger sense, workflow automation also makes it easier for employees to communicate with one another — which itself is a great way to empower their ability to collaborate. A lot of the workflow automation solutions you would be using include built-in communication tools that make sharing documents and other important project-related data easier than ever. When you make it easier for your employees to work together, you increase the chances that they do — thus improving employee morale and improving the quality of work that they’re able to do in the first place.

In the end, workflow automation is more than just another IT trend or passing fad. It’s an opportunity to optimize processes across all departments in a way that eliminates human error, gets rid of performance bottlenecks and that improves the quality of work you’re able to do with your clients. It improves the speed at which your organization can move because it frees up the valuable time of your human employees so that they can focus on those matters that truly need them.

It’s also a way to save valuable resources while improving both internal and external transparency, which for many businesses may very well be the most important benefit of all.

Source: https://resources.m-files.com/blog/what-is-workflow-automation-why-it-matters-and-why-you-need-it

12 ways to implement a TPM strategy using your work orders

What happens when the maintenance team is the only one that cares about maintenance?

There might not be a more common, or truer, saying in the world of sports than, “Defense wins championships.” Although there are no championships to win in business, there are quotas to hit and money to make. And defence still matters. In this case, defence means maintenance. But when the maintenance team is the only one playing defence, they’re outnumbered and the losses pile up. A faulty part goes unnoticed and causes a breakdown. That’s a loss. A machine isn’t lubricated properly and results in waste. Loss. A PM is missed and an accident happens. Another loss. But a lot of these losses can be avoided with total productive maintenance. Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a defence-first mentality for business. The work order process is one of the cornerstones of this strategy. This article will explore how to create and optimize that process with TPM in mind.

What is total productive maintenance: A brief primer on TPM

Total productive maintenance is the idea that everyone has a part to play in improving the performance and quality of systems with maintenance. That includes the maintenance team, but also operations, production, finance, and other departments. When you have 100 eyes peeled for possible equipment failures or safety hazards instead of five or 10, they’re easier and more efficient to catch and fix. An example of TPM in action would be an operator doing routine maintenance, like basic lubrication, or a plant manager creating an asset management policy. Neither person is on the maintenance team, but both use maintenance to have a direct impact on the health and performance of equipment. There’s a lot more to TPM than we can fit in this article. If you want to read more, check out these articles on getting started with TPM and putting a TPM plan into action.

12 ways to use work orders to build a successful TPM program

How to get operations involved TPM

Work orders are the bread and butter of maintenance which also makes them essential for a good TPM program and getting operators involved in maintenance success.
  1. Find a starting line: Work out the wrinkles in your TPM program by starting small. Focus on one machine or area of your plant. Look for equipment with a low criticality that requires regularly scheduled maintenance. Split the responsibility of the PM between maintenance and operations.
  2. Designate a maintenance type for operators: This creates clear roles and responsibilities and allows you to track where extra training, information, or resources are needed to help operators be successful.
  3. Write bullet-proof work request templates: Be very clear about what information is needed to help technicians complete a job. Operators will gain a better understanding and appreciation for what goes into maintenance.
  4. Write a template for completion notes that leaves no room for error: Break this section of a work order into specific fields that helps you document exactly what happened on the job. Operators will be able to spot useful information in past work orders much easier. It will also make training requirements easier to create.
  5. Build solid task lists: Find a balance between being detailed in your tasks and overwhelming operators with too much. Adding pictures helps you avoid information overload. Providing estimated times for each task is an extra bit of guidance that operators will appreciate.
  6. Add as many visual aids to work orders as you can: In addition to pictures, add diagrams or videos if your operators are accessing the work order from a mobile device.
  7. Highlight success with work order data: There might be resistance to your TPM program at first. There’s a lot of data in your work orders that help you prove that it’s worth it. Even something as simple as having fewer reactive work orders tells a story. Fewer breakdowns mean more throughput and less waste from post-failure startups.

How to get the rest of your organization involved in your plan

  1. A true total productive maintenance strategy doesn’t stop at the edge of the production floor. It reaches into the offices of almost everyone at your company. Here are a few ways you can start bringing more and more people into the TPM fold.
  2. Assist in design and/or procurement: Use common maintenance types and failure codes, along with request and completion notes, to help reliability and purchasing personnel build or buy equipment that won’t repeat the failures of past assets.
  3. Advocate for more resources: Presenting a list of backlogged work orders, its labor hours, and the cost of not doing the work can help you highlight the scale of problems and convince your boss that you need some extra help.
  4. Make maintenance accessible: Integrate your work order request system with the systems that everyone in your business uses, like email or Slack.
  5. Identify inventory efficiencies: Use work order data to find out if the same parts cause breakdowns or failed inspections. Work with inventory personnel to find the root cause of the problem and solve it.
  6. Celebrate your success: If you want people to c`are about maintenance, you need to prove it’s worth their attention. Work orders are a great source of success stories. They can help you draw a link between scheduled maintenance and failure prevention or clean start ups and higher production.

Everything you just read in three sentences

  1. Talk with members of every group using work orders, from requesters in finance to operators, and find out how to make instructions and templates clear and accessible to each of them.
  2. Piloting your TPM strategy on a small area of your organization will help you identify where it needs to be improved and how to scale the project moving forward.
  3. Tracking good results from your work orders, no matter how small, will increase buy-in for your TPM program, or, in other words, bragging is the surest path to success.
Source: https://www.fiixsoftware.com/work-order-academy/how-to-implement-a-tpm-program-using-work-orders/