What makes an Ideal CMMS Software? A Buyer’s Guide to Choose the Best!

CMMS or Computerized Maintenance Management System is a software which is aimed to simplify and speed up the maintenance operations. CMMS software is also sometimes referred to as Enterprise Asset Management. Let’s explore the concept further by splitting it down into individual components.

‘C’ for computerized

It refers to the fact that the maintenance data for management is stored on a computer or more specifically a computer software database. At olden times, say before the 1980s, the maintenance data could have been more or less pencil and paper, and there is no wonder that data is computerized now.

The significant change happened in maintenance management in the last couple of decades was that maintenance had become largely proactive than reactive. At olden times, maintenance was initiated only when something goes wrong. The concept of preventive maintenance was not there as it was impractical to track which all assets need routine maintenance.

With the introduction of the first-generation CMMS, organizations migrated quickly from paper-pencil to computer databases. This equipped them to track the work orders, instantly generate up-to-date reports, and easily determine which all assets require timely preventive maintenance. This approach ensured improved organizational performance by reducing costs and time to increase profits.

‘M’ for maintenance

Maintenance is the purpose of CMMS whether it is conducting a routine inspection or a responding to an on-demand troubleshooting order. Computer software will not be able to accomplish the tasks all on its own as like a skilled technician. However, it can ensure that the timelines are monitored, and the work order is prioritized based on the need of the situation. The users can access anything at any time like the inventory or allocate the labor to ensure timely and successful execution of tasks. The administrators need to do and rely less on paperwork, and the technicians have the freedom to focus more on hands-on maintenance.

‘M’ for management

Managing the maintenance activities is the critical task of any CMMS solution. There are various types of CMMS available, but the primary objective of all these is to use an appropriate maintenance management protocol which gives the administrators an instant insight into the current state of maintenance needs against a comprehensive work order, do perfect inventory forecasts, and given instant access to a large number of purpose-built reports. CMMS empowers managers by providing information to take the most appropriate, informed, and insightful decisions.

‘S’ for system

A completed system can be visualized as the combination of various capabilities and features with the entity. Various CMMS applications may offer different types of systems. Among all, the most powerful CMM-system may be the one which allows the users to accomplish their current maintenance practices more efficiently by saving time and reducing cost. An end-to-end system will facilitate managing work orders, run preventive maintenance, assess the volume of tasks, track purchase orders, monitor assets, check inventory levels, follow-up with fleet and more.

Decision making for CMMS implementation

While planning to implement a CMMS, here are few factors you need to take into consideration.

1. Migrating existing data

As discussed above, many companies may have existing data in some format. In some cases, the companies may be adopting another CMMS from the existing one. Most may keep data in a preventative maintenance system as a CSV or spreadsheet. With it, a professional CMMS provider will be able to clean or scrub the redundant or error data and import it into the new system in a compatible format. This needed to be checked at the first point to make the best use of your historical data.

2. Company size

Company size is a crucial element while considering CMMS implementation. With multinational or multi-city operations, you need to ensure whether the system is limited to one location or global. For multinationals, there are enterprise-wide CMMS applications. On setting up all sites consistency, comprehensive maintenance management can be done centrally and cost-effectively.

3. The timeframe for CMMS Implementation

Time is a critical factor deciding cost vs. opportunities. In fact, CMMS implementation takes a significant amount of time to work full-fledged. The scope of CMMS implementation against the time taken needed to be considered. For example, one should check how many assets can be added to the system and whether there is any additional data to be added, etc. Once on estimating these needs, realistic timelines needed to be prepared along with comprehensive inventory list to ensure a proper framework for task completion. Ballpark time estimation to independent company audits may be:

  • Organizations with up to 100 assets – about 30 days
  • From 100 to 200 assets – about 45 days
  • With more than 200, up to 500 assets – about 90 days and so on.

4. CMMS data input

Running merely on data-driven insights, the company needs to assess and decide the data to be inputted to the CMMS. Whether the data inputted be limited to the equipment or assets, or if it needs to include images, documents, blueprints, and manuals, etc. Adding more data to the system will surely need more resources and time. These extra efforts needed to be weighed against the actual purpose to be met by CMMS software and the projected outcome to calculate actual ROS.

5. Availability of resources

Apart from the time taken for CMMS set up, human resource is also required for the initial implementation of it. All from top to bottom including the administrators to managers and technicians need to take their time out from day to day responsibilities to do this. So, before jumping into implementation, adequate workforce and resources needed to be ensured first.

6. Analyze CMMS user’s abilities

When setting up an in-house CMMS, close consideration should also be there on the users’ ability to handle the technical aspects of it. Some may be tech-savvy, but for some others, getting accustomed to new-age technology may be hard to follow. Even though many of advanced CMMS is user-friendly and straightforward, intensive training is required for the operators to complete the implementation and orientation quickly and accurately.

7. Other general considerations

CMMS implementation and onboarding are crucial steps. A careful review of the budget, objective, and resources will help decide the process in the best possible manner. External assistance may be needed for tasks like data input. The on-boarding services are also not so cheap but will pay its dividends in a long run if done well. You may be seeing some CMMS advertising like ‘no training required’; however, this seems to be too good to be true. In the end, the CMMS selected should be the apt for your industry, company’s needs, size, and budget.

Choosing a provider

Choosing an ideal CMMS is the most crucial task involved, which will decide your company’s future for the years to come. Choosing a system which is a poor fit for your organization will result in loss, downtime, and also tampered employee morale. Some tips to choose the best provider as below.

  • Create a selection team: The best possible approach to choosing the most appropriate CMMS for your organization is to first create a cross-functional committee by including individuals from various departments/level from within the company. It may also be ideal to think of representation from the stakeholders too. This will give a broader to the actual maintenance and management needs.
  • Review the existing system: A clear understanding of the current system and its incompetence will give you a better insight into the actual challenges you face and how to tackle the new system planned.
  • Create a requirements document: The selection committee should be asked to give a comprehensive requirement document by a survey and research. This document should prioritize the requirements to add more objectivity to the selection of CMMS.
  • Calculate costs: A cost-value evaluation needed to be done and a budget or budget range needed to be set in advance. There are various options to consider while doing the cost assessment as hosted solutions or on-premise software etc.
  • Prepare an RFP (request for proposals): CMMS is a hefty service and should be given some serious consideration to evaluate the vendors through a formal RFP. You can also try and get web demonstrations or on-site presentations by vendors to check their system capabilities.
  • Have well-prepared questions for effective decision making: Be prepared for a litmus test to prove the efficacy of various service providers during the time of an interview. Some sample questions are:
    • Does the CMMS system offer give the users the ability to create, edit, and track the work orders automatically?
    • Whether the user can create web forms for technicians or vendors to submit work orders online for approval?
    • Is it possible to schedule preventive maintenance in calendar format?
    • Whether users can create some digital checklists to check for efficiency, consistency, and control of assets for maintenance?
    • Is there any alert system to notify you when it runs out of resources and makes the material reordering easy?
    • Is the system capable of generating instant reports and easy to infer charts?
    • Whether the provider offers implementation training and ongoing support?

All in all, you need to understand that selection of an appropriate CMMS is the primary steps in the process. Implementation comes next as the vital and time-consuming step, which needed to be perfect to leverage the maximum potential of the system.

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