Do I need software?

In principle you can work with handwritten paper sheets, but in practice you almost certainly do need software unless your project is short and unlikely to be reviewed. Anyone who has tried to carry out an RCM analysis using pen and paper knows the frustration of trying to update it, of trying to insert new information or to remove parts of an analysis.

A word processor or spreadsheet may work well enough for a short initial project, but the time will come when you want to be able to manipulate information more easily and to combine data from more than one analysis into a single maintenance schedule.

A number of off-the-shelf packages are available in the technical software market. The key features that the software should provide include the following.

  • Record and print Information Worksheets and Decision Worksheets for the exact RCM variant you are using
  • Store background information to support the analysis, such as cost and failure data
  • Provide good navigation so that the system can be used easily in a group working environment
  • Minimise the volume of typing that the group facilitator or secretary has to do
  • Provide basic word processing facilities such as text formatting and a spelling checker
  • Share RCM information easily with group members and auditors
  • Be able to export all recorded information in a non-proprietary format so that you are not locked in to one supplier
  • Back up and restore the RCM database easily
  • Be able to work away from a network if your facilitator or others need to operate while travelling, from hotels or from home
  • Generate maintenance schedules in a format that is compatible with your maintenance management system or ERP
  • Provide compatibility with your organisation’s workstations and IT infrastructure