Going paperless was the promise of the computer age. But digging into that promise? It turned out that there were many, many places where the benefits of paper outweighed the downsides. Places such as the maintenance department in your senior living community. 

Because when you’re out around your facility, it’s not exactly feasible to carry around a hefty desktop or even a laptop. You’ve got plenty other tools to carry with you. Paper might stack up later and over time, but when you need to manage a plethora of different maintenance tasks assigned to different people, it’s a convenient option day-to-day.

But there are downsides to paper work orders 

I don’t have to tell you that despite the convenience, problems exist with paper work orders. 

They go missing. They get damaged. The pen runs out. The information isn’t recorded properly. They take up a lot of space — you have to make a decision about how far back you can keep records. 

And even if you are able to store a huge number of them, it’s difficult to look up information. If you file by date, it’ll take time to search by room or by specific asset, for instance. 

Ultimately? It takes a good deal of time to handle all this administrative work — time that takes you away from keeping the community running smoothly. 

One digital solution: Spreadsheets 

As computers became more available, many maintenance departments began adopting a spreadsheet-based solution.

Spreadsheets allow you to store and analyze large amounts of data quite easily. Most everyone with a computer will have access to spreadsheet software. And it’s fairly simple to use the basic features. 

Spreadsheets, however, are not the perfect solution. They’re not immune to error — someone can still enter the wrong kind of information. The formatting can get messed up. And you’ve got the possibility of other issues, such as multiple people working off of different spreadsheets that get out of sync. Although a spreadsheet might help you take a step into the digital world of maintenance management — it sure can get messy. 

Dedicated computerized maintenance management software 

The best solution is computerized maintenance management software, or CMMS. Unlike a spreadsheet, this is software custom-made for maintenance needs. That means that rather than trying to adapt a flexible tool to your purpose (which can work to an extent), you get the right tool, right out of the box. 

A CMMS can replace all that administrative work you do to handle paper work orders. And it can avoid all those pitfalls of spreadsheets going wrong — because it’s specifically built to do what you need. 

And you don’t lose that portable convenience factor paper does have. Many CMMS platforms now allow you to access and interact via a mobile app usable on any smartphone or tablet. 

If you’re thinking about bumping up the efficiency of your maintenance department and dumping that clumsy paper workflow? Try out a CMMS.

Dan Roberge is the founder of Maintenance Care, https://www.maintenancecare.com/.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living marketplace column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.