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What Type of CMMS Training is Best; Remote or On-site?

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You're about to enter the implementation phase after jumping through the hoops of selecting a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) that best meets your organization’s needs and goals. This is where attention to detail, perseverance, and patience are needed more than ever. Besides migrating a company’s data, customizing settings, and setting up user permissions, CMMS training is an essential implementation component that should never be glossed over.   

CMMS training is crucial because it equips maintenance personnel with the knowledge and skills to effectively utilize and maximize the software’s benefits. With the CMMS’s many functions, such as managing maintenance activities, asset information, and work orders, streamlining maintenance processes, and enhancing overall efficiency, there is a lot for maintenance team members to learn. Proper training ensures that users can navigate the system confidently and accurately input and retrieve accurate data, generate insightful reports, and leverage the software's full functionality. Through CMMS training, maintenance teams are equipped with a standardized approach to managing their maintenance operations. Ultimately, having a well-trained workforce translates into a successful implementation and ongoing optimization of CMMS. It also promotes a proactive maintenance culture within an organization, a factor that can never be underestimated.

Regarding CMMS training, maintenance managers have two options for onboarding their teams; on-site and remote training.  Both options get the job done, but each has advantages and disadvantages. Let's examine them in detail, and then you can decide which options best suit your organization’s needs.

On-site CMMS Training

On-site CMMS training refers to a structured and hands-on learning experience that takes place at the physical location of a facility or organization. This training method involves bringing CMMS instructors or experts to the workplace to provide comprehensive instruction on using and implementing the CMMS software. Participants typically engage in practical exercises, demonstrations, and real-world scenarios tailored to the organization's specific needs. The on-site approach allows trainees to familiarize themselves with the CMMS tools within their operational environment, facilitating a more effective transfer of knowledge and skills. This personalized and immersive training helps employees proficiently utilize the CMMS to streamline maintenance processes, optimize asset management, and enhance overall operational efficiency. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of on-site CMMS training.

Advantages:

Hands-on Learning:

  • On-site training allows participants hands-on experience with the CMMS software in their work environment.
  • Users can practice using the system on the equipment they will be managing, which can enhance their understanding and confidence.

Immediate and In-person Interaction:

  • Immediate interaction with the trainer and other participants facilitates real-time problem-solving and fosters a collaborative learning environment.
  • Rather than saving questions for later and possibly forgetting them, participants can ask questions, seek clarification, and receive instant feedback in person.

Customization:

  • Trainers can tailor the content to the specific needs and requirements of the organization rather than using a generic training format.
  • Since users will likely have different learning styles, the training program can be adapted based on the participant's skill levels and the organization's unique processes.

Team and Rapport Building:

  • On-site training sessions provide an opportunity for team building and camaraderie among participants.
  • Team members can learn together, enhancing support, collaboration, and communication.
  • Having an instructor from the CMMS software provider come on-site and meet in person helps to foster a stronger vendor/customer relationship. Many users may be apprehensive or nervous about the new technology and changes. Having in-person contact with the vendor reps can alleviate the apprehension and transform this into a positive experience.

Disadvantages:

Costs:

  • On-site training often incurs higher costs due to expenses related to travel, accommodation, and potential disruptions to daily operations.
  • On-site training costs are also affected by the duration, the number of participants, customization, training materials, and post-training support. 
  • On-site training can run upwards of several thousand dollars, whereas remote web-conference training ranges from $150 - $300 USD / hour and, in some cases, is free.

Logistical Challenges:

  • Coordinating schedules for on-site training may be challenging, especially if participants are dispersed across different locations or, for other reasons, are unavailable. 
  • Organizing facilities, equipment, and resources for the training can take time and effort.

Limited Technology and Documentation:

  • Unless you set up a camera, training sessions cannot be recorded and reused for future user training. If users are ill or absent, they cannot benefit from on-site training.
  • On-site training is limited by the technology that can be used. Typically this is done in a computer lab or in a meeting room with a large screen, slide show, and demoing the CMMS software. Remote sessions can take advantage of some new screen-sharing technologies. 

Remote CMMS Training

Remote CMMS training involves providing education and instruction on using CMMS software through online or virtual platforms. Remote training typically includes virtual sessions where trainers guide participants through the functionalities of the CMMS software, demonstrating how to input and retrieve data, generate reports, and optimize maintenance processes. The training also covers preventive maintenance schedules, work order management, inventory tracking, and other features essential for efficient facility or equipment management. Remote CMMS training allows participants to access learning resources from different locations, fostering flexibility and accessibility for a diverse audience. This approach enables organizations to train their staff effectively and on their own time without needing physical presence, making it a convenient and cost-effective solution. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of remote CMMS training.

Advantages:

Cost-Effective:

  • Remote training eliminates travel and accommodation costs, making it a more cost-effective option.
  • Participants can attend the training from their workstations or homes, reducing overall expenses.
  • Participants can receive training at their own pace and on their own time.

Flexibility:

  • Remote training provides flexibility in terms of scheduling, allowing participants to choose convenient times.
  • Training sessions can be recorded for future reference, enabling self-paced learning. 
  • Participants can refresh themselves on specific aspects of their training at their own time and pace.
  • Remote training sessions can accommodate multiple participants, whereas on-site training restricts participants by the space and facilities available.

Global Reach:

  • Remote training is accessible to participants regardless of their geographical location, making it suitable for organizations with a dispersed workforce.
  • Remote training is particularly useful for shift workers.

Minimized Disruptions:

  • Remote training minimizes disruptions to daily operations since participants can attend without leaving workstations.

Disadvantages:

Limited Hands-on Experience:

  • Participants may need more access to hands-on experience with the actual equipment and systems they will be managing.
  • Remote training is generic in format rather than being customized to particular operations, equipment, or industry.

Communication Challenges:

  • Remote training relies on virtual communication tools, which may lead to challenges in conveying complex concepts or providing immediate clarification.
  • The training does not provide an opportunity to break down a task further or repeat it as might be needed by some users.
  • There is limited opportunity to get immediate or detailed feedback or assistance.

Potential Distractions:

  • Participants may face distractions in their remote work environments, potentially affecting their focus, engagement, and motivation during training sessions.

Technical Issues:

  • Technical issues like internet connectivity or software compatibility may disrupt remote training sessions.

On-site Training

Pros

Cons

Very personal and great opportunity to build rapport and relationships with CMMS provider representatives.

Costly - travel and accommodation expenses must be covered. Per diem costs. Expect $1,500 - $2,500 USD / day.

High level of engagement. Participants are more focused, and there is less potential for distractions.

Participant volume is limited by space and facilities.

Instructors can recognize trainees who may need extra help and more attention.

Potential for some attendees to be absent, inability to record, share, and reuse.

Sessions can be highly interactive, and the instructor has more opportunities to encourage participation.

Must be conducted in longer sessions, potential for fatigue with attendees and instructor.

Remote Training

Pros

Cons

Affordable - $100 - $300 USD / hr, or no charge

Less personal, rapport, and relationship building with CMMS vendor is limited

Can accommodate large teams

Lower engagement

Can accommodate dispersed teams

Less opportunity to incorporate real-life examples

Can be recorded, shared, rewatched

Vulnerable to technical issues

Can be broken into multiple sessions, delivered over longer timeframes

Attendees can be distracted from other things in their environment (office or at home)

Take advantage of new technologies; not all training has to be live. Leverage videos, learning paths, quizzes, A.I.

Participants who are not tech-savvy may be apprehensive and struggle using remote learning methods. 

Conclusion

Implementing CMMS has the potential to be a game-changer for maintenance departments. Studies show that CMMS software can reduce downtime by 15-20%*, extend asset life by 10-15%**, and improve work order response times by as much as 50%***. These are promising results and if realized, come with huge cost savings. It only makes sense that maintenance managers try to get the most out of the CMMS as they can. Effective training is absolutely essential for a successful software implementation. Proficient practical training will increase user adoption and ensure that the software is configured to achieve the best results for the organization. 

This discussion of on-site and remote CMMS training showed each format's advantages and disadvantages. The choice between the two training formats largely depends on the organization's needs, preferences, and constraints. On-site is best suited for organizations with the budget, and also more appropriate for larger teams with complex maintenance operations. On-site training is probably overkill and unnecessary for smaller teams with 5 or fewer users and less than 500 assets. Remote training delivered via apps like Zoom, Google Meets, Citrix, or Microsoft Teams is easy to schedule, can accommodate large dispersed teams, and can be recorded, shared, and reused.  A hybrid approach combining on-site and remote training elements offers organizations a third option. Utilizing a hybrid training model may add the needed balance by offering a hands-on, on-site experience with remote training’s flexibility and cost-effectiveness. Here’s to informed decision-making!

References:

*JLL Research, "CMMS Implementation: A Case Study," 2018

**ARC Advisory Group, "Maintenance Management Systems for Process Industries," 2017

***Maintenance Technology, "Maximizing CMMS Benefits," 2015

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