How MaintainX Leverages Tech to Solve the Operational Management Conundrum?

Software solution like this startup offers is the key to scale up a company and compete with global rivals. Let’s read on to learn how it replaces the traditional spreadsheets.
Prologis frontline workers use tech app to track inventory
Courtesy: Prologis
By | 12 min read

Founded in 2018, MaintainX provides the mobile-first workflow platform for industrial and frontline worker to keep track of their maintenance, safety or operations. The company workflow management product essentially replaces traditional practices of using spreadsheets or clipboards at many factories with centralized digital tools.

Despite being a latecomer in the workflow management play, MaintainX has taken on a different angle to optimize its solution. The company has experienced a 12x revenue growth since early 2020 and had its customer base increase by 6x. Investors are also paying attention to this computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) with $39M was funded to expand MaintainX’s business operations, adding up to a total of $54M in capital raising.

With the information digitization at its core, MaintainX has initiated an optimal solution for frontline workers to work smarter in the digital era. How can this San Francisco-based company integrate technology to tackle a pressing demand in the industry? Let’s read on to find out.

MaintainX staff collaborate on the design
Source: Adam Wald

The Product’s Conceptualization 

When steering into the workflow management platforms, Chris Turlica – MaintainX’s co-founder and CEO – identified an urgent need that is potential for a break-through solution: A huge market of frontline workers are being overlooked in the workforce’s digital transition.

Only a fifth of workers in the world work behind a desk, leaving 2.7 billion people whose jobs are to interact directly with people, equipment, or infrastructure. While dozens of apps or cloud platforms are designed to serve the need of desk-based workers, only 1% of business software focuses on assisting 80% of workers who don’t sit behind computers. “It’s a telling that tech companies spend so much time figuring out solutions for hot-deskers and digital nomads and so little time trying to help the truly mobile workforce — especially when there’s so much potential to digitize these vital roles and bring deskless workflows into the 21st century” – Chris shared.

With most of the industry already integrating technology in its firmament, the operations management is lagging with traditional tools. As if you are having fully automated manufacturing equipment but your employees still rely on paper stacks to update with the process, things are unmatched. That’s the loophole that prompted Chris and his co-founders to establish MaintainX, a tech-leveraged solvent for an underserved market.

The company uses CMMS system for its product which helps smoothen the standard operating procedures (SOP). In a basic language, SOP includes step-by-step instructions that guide workers to execute their routine operations. Meanwhile, CMMS is a software platform that automates operational and maintenance process. What MaintainX offers, is to take manual work order regulation and digitize it to keep all information within a hand-sized screen of a smartphone.

This software product replaces daily tracking with papers and clipboards with arranged digital information on maintenance, inspection or safety procedure. Frontline workers are now enabled with a more structured, efficient task implementation while business leaders can have a high-level view of operational activities at their fingertips. “Wherever there is a piece of equipment or a facility, there is a frontline worker managing it. The surprising truth is that the majority of frontline and industrial operations still rely on paper and clipboards as their system of record, which slows processes, drags down productivity, and costs billions of dollars each year in time and money,” explained Chris Turlica. “Digitizing workflows is a critical need for the more than 2.7B deskless workers worldwide and MaintainX provides the most intuitive and holistic platform to move frontline and industrial workers beyond the clipboard and into the future of work.” The company estimates their business clients can increase 40% in productivity and have their maintenance costs lowered by 25%.

How to Design an Optimal Tech-Based Solution? 

Frontline workers in warehouse use app to manage inventory
Courtesy: Prologis

The Right Software for an Operational Excellence

While CMMS software isn’t the only option to streamline workflows, MaintainX understands that is the most optimal one. In addition to CMMS, companies can also use standard operating procedures software to specifically create, edit or assign digital SOPs. SOP software provides the fundamentals that one needs to electrically manage workflow and distribute documents including templates, manual writing checklists or centralized instructions. 

Essentially, SOP software shares the same functionality with its counterpart, yet the bells and whistles of CMMS are what makes MaintainX’s product top-drawer. In order to serve a wide portfolio of clients working in operations-intensive industries, having digital SOPs isn’t enough. Whilst standalone SOP software might be doable for small, middle-sized business, big organizations with heavy in-house maintenance will need features like asset management storage, inventory and vendor catalogs or advanced reporting statistics that only CMMS software can entitle.

For a visionary company like MaitainX, CMMS software platform is the right tool to drive a product that serves a diverse pool of customers as well as enable flawless operating experiences, all included in one. By choosing the correct first step to develop its platform, MaintainX is fast-forwarding operational excellence with its inventive technological attributes.

Stand Out with Distinct Features 

From manually input paperwork orders into mainframe computers to web hosted applications that allow any-time access to keep up with the workflow, CMMS software has evolved shockingly over the last decades. While traditional CMMS solutions come with steep learning curves, complex interfaces, and expensive invoices, modern CMMS program are removing such obstacles for industries across the board. The company has utilized technological advancements to maximize the efficacy of its product. Let’s find out how MaintainX is making the best out of CMMS software program.

#1. Prioritize Human Engagement

With entirely digital workflow management, human communication is more essential than ever. For a manager that wants to hand out information effectively to hundreds of employees or a frontline worker to ask questions and share his working progress, the management platform must enable users with a centralized, efficient communication channel. The MaintainX team has invested in upgrading its communication tool that allows real-time conversations between individuals, groups or projects.

In fact, instant messaging is one of the company’s platform most distinguished features. Many CMMS software with too complicated navigation can discourage employee’s compliance and reduce their engagement with the team. Understanding the concern, MaintainX is outpacing its rivals by providing the first chat-based software that mirrors standard text messaging. With this renovation, the company allows managers and frontline workers to have instant work support without getting lost in email threads or voice mails.

MaintainX mobile app user interface
Courtesy: MaintainX

#2. Advance with Versatile Functions 

The company’s product isn’t designed just to schedule online checking or arranging spreadsheets. With heavy-loaded asset management data, frontline workers and their managers will call for more than that. MaintainX supplies that need by integrating advanced technology to produce a multifunctional platform. For example, the company’s platform allows leaders to track inspection results, spending patterns work orders divided by segments through its cost analysis function. With data updated up-to-the minute, team members can engage more effectively while managers can have a bird’s eye view and detailed reports on maintenance department performance.

 The company also puts great efforts into leveraging technology to simplify invoicing process for its customers. It speeds up the workflow conversation by creating a function to upload photos directly to into digital chat threads for real-time troubleshooting. Moreover, MaintainX also assists managers to clarify procedures by uploading equipment photos or converting digital work orders to PDFs to email with attached invoices.

With the boundless capability of technology, customers will expect to have a know-it-all assistance. Making a digital application or software that is widely used requires a diverse array of functions that can cater to different needs. The company has devised a platform that is versatile, inclusive and made the most out of possible solutions.

#3. Maximize User’s Experience

When designing a work-order program, the company doesn’t want to offer their clients a complicated digitized product that requires an expert to navigate. Most of today’s digital maintenance apps were built for desktop computers, before later being reprogrammed for smartphones. These user interfaces are clunky, outdated, and complicated to maneuver. With a primary goal of creating an intuitive user experience, MaintainX levels up its product by making it available as a mobile app on smartphones or iPads.

It’s not just simply that. For users who constantly mess up their checklists or documents, having an easy-looking, organized management database will be a life-saver. If the digital platform is unattractive, confusing, and unintuitive, they may revert to pen and paper out of frustration. Whether menu navigation styles, toggle options, or color schemes, MaintainX’s platform stands out as a highly systematized, visually appealing program.

The cloud-based system also enables its platform to remove the necessity of on-site computer hardware and provides users with remote access and automatic updates that require minimal reliance on IT departments. By optimizing user’s experiences with simple but qualified features, MaintainX has created an unparalleled product to serve a distressing demand.

MaintainX dashboard interface
Courtesy: MaintainX

The Company’s Outlook for Technology Application

Putting everything on the phones or computers isn’t just a friendly recommendation. MaintainX believes that technological application is going to be the competitive edge that companies must capitalize on to advance their businesses.

To Do More with Less

Consider any future epidemiological risk like Covid-19. When the entire world is shut down, but businesses still need to be kept running, how can the messages or task assignments be delivered? This pandemic has discouraged intimate human contacts while requested for a flush of updating on news, protocols or regulations. In a society where nothing but the Internet is connected, online communication tools or digital tracking platforms are what assist humans to proceed with their daily jobs.

The company believes that having technology integration to solve future problems is quintessential. For MaintainX, it has leveraged technological advance to solve one of the most burning demand during the pandemic. As companies still need to communicate with their workers, especially those in the front-line team who has to be on-site for their jobs, it’s inevitable for handing over documents or checking up with the progress without contacting other people. This is when technology jumps in. MaintainX’s product is designed to eliminate such risks that humans can’t control: decreasing face-to-face conversations while accelerating the flows of information.

Frontline workers on site work on construction project
Courtesy: United Rentals

Under the labor challenge, especially during this chaotic time, operations-intensive industries like manufacturing should learn how to do more with fewer people. From employing strategies to hire new workers and retain trained ones to optimizing operations with up-to-date technologies, there are a wide variety of areas where mobile technology enterprises can support. This means the potential for tech firms to get their hands on deskless work is colossal. By 2025, the market for mobile enterprise apps is anticipated to be worth $180 billion, about four times what it was in 2016. Overall, more than four-fifths of businesses aim to boost their investments in deskless technology, with an average spending increase of 31%. 

However, huge opportunity doesn’t necessarily mean an easy road to software developers when joining deskless tech. As a market that has long been neglected in Silicon Valley, tech firms need to work their way into understanding the industry’s operations as well as workers’ challenges in the field. For Chris Turlica, developers should capitalize on the full potential of technology and apply it creatively to address specific hurdles faced by deskless workers. “Sure, we can digitize your checklists — but we should also be using video tools, interactive photo sharing, chat services, and even bells and whistles such as social tools and gamification to create a feature-rich, empowering and engaging experience for deskless workers.” – he elaborated.

A “Paradigm Shift” in Boosting Productivity 

The pandemic has left businesses a serious human resources issue as on the one hand, companies have to implement hiring freeze and cutbacks to adapt to the situation while on the other, it is getting harder for employers to find suitable workers for their vacancies.  

Although the US’s unemployment rate was at a historical low benchmark last year, it didn’t get easier for recruiters to find their matched workers. The skill gap is one challenge as many job seekers don’t have the skills or experience to work as managers, technicians or chemical engineers. The other hurdle is a lack of qualified overseas workers due to travel restrictions that can prolong to few more years. Accordingly, the productivity of existing human resources is more pivotal to business’ leaders than ever.

One simple way that is oftentimes utilized to boost productivity is increasing employee’s wages. However, there is a limit to human capability regardless of how much money is paid. The “efficiency wages” strategy that allows workers to work correspondingly harder with their increased salary can push productivity to some extent. Nevertheless, the main driver behind our country productivity growth since the 1970s is intense capital investments in automation technologies.

Frontline workers on site and communicate with office staff
Courtesy: United Rentals

So, what is the “shift”?

To compete globally, businesses should rush to employ approaches that ensure workers to deliver equivalent values with the wages they receive. Hence, the concern should change from how hard people work to how smart they operate with the provided tools. And by “tools”, we mean the technology-backed devices or platforms that can speed up their productivity not twice, not triple, but 10x. Employees are enabled to work more productively, not because of heavier demand from their employers but simply because they have the operating guidebook at their fingertips. Aside from productivity-boosting, digitizing operations and human management will limit human errors and maintain smooth operations even in the event of short-handedness. In the future, MaintainX believes that platforms like what it offers is the key for companies to scale up their business and compete with global rivals. Tech-based solution not only supplies the essential tool to efficient operations but also provides in-depth, diversified software tailored to different industry’s requirements.

The Bottom Line

With its innovative technological application towards an uncommon base of customers, MaintainX has rapidly established its position and compete with many tech giants. The company has built a brilliant platform that exploits the omnipresence of mobile devices to enable task-tracking while providing real-time records and insights to management that is barely seen before.

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  • About: Lina Tran
    Joining EnvZone with a focus on performance analysis, Lina is thrilled to explore the business world by covering the ups and downs of hundreds of companies from which her clients…

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