A Complete Guide to Selecting a CMMS System
Make no mistake: the right computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) could make a big difference for your business, helping you increase transparency, automate maintenance operations, improve employee efficiency and ultimately save money.
But, as with all technology these days, you will likely find yourself rich in options and short on clarity when it comes to selecting a CMMS and making the wrong decision could cost your business time, employee buy-in, efficiency and revenue.
In this guide, we will share everything that you need to know about how to select the right CMMS for your business, including tips, insights, strategies and little-known facts you should consider when making this decision.
Step 1: Assemble Your Enterprise CMMS Team
Any software or technology is only as good as the team that is using it. If your employees do not have the skills, understanding or time to properly deploy, maintain and use your CMMS on a day-to-day basis, you will not get anything out of it.
What is worse, improper maintenance or human error from simple mistakes or lack of adoption could lead to incomplete information, bad data and inaccurate insights. In other words, it could render your CMMS practically useless.
That is why it is important, before you do anything else, to think about every single person that will be interacting with your CMMS, to assemble a great team and to make sure that everyone on that team has the training, bandwidth and buy-in they need to be an effective contributor.
Here is exactly who you will need and how to ensure that the right employees are all-in across departments (all the way up to the C-suite).
Who Should Be Involved in the CMMS Selection and Implementation Process?
You are more likely to choose the right CMMS system if you consult the right people – those that have really good insight and unique perspectives into your maintenance operations, your needs and your current technological capabilities.
To this end, key players that you should consult include:
System Administrators and Maintenance Managers
Your CMMS administrator will oversee the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of your system (and you definitely need an administrator – find out why here). It is a good idea to get this person involved early in the process so they are completely on board and trained from the start.
Your machine operators will make many of the work order requests, and they will be keenly aware of asset status and concerns – so they need to be on board as well.
Inventory management is a major pain point for many manufacturing companies and a key functionality that attracts businesses to a CMMS. Your inventory manager should definitely be consulted about what CMMS features or inventory pain points are most relevant for your business.
Your technicians will be using your CMMS more than anyone else to complete work orders, so they have to be in the loop. They can also give you important insight into what features or usability concerns are most relevant to them.
Nothing can happen without buy-in from key decision-makers, and your C-suite will be the ones using the insights from your CMMS to make data-driven decisions about the future of your company.
A CMMS will only be effective if it integrates with your existing technologies and tools. To this end, your IT team can help with both information and implementation.
Your reliability engineer defines, designs, develops, monitors and refines your overarching asset maintenance plan, so their inclusion is necessary if you want to use your CMMS to its full potential and adopt an effective preventive maintenance strategy.
Health and Safety Personnel
If your industry is frequently audited, it will probably be helpful to talk to your health and safety personnel about your CMMS and figure out what kind of compliance features you need to consider.
How to Get Your Whole Team on Board
The wheels can still fall off the bus if key players are not on board and properly using the system – and you could choose the wrong system altogether if you do not have all the relevant information. To gain insight and maximize user adoption, you should:
- Answer the question, “Why should I care?” for everyone that you talk to. For CEOs, the answer could be something along the lines of, “It will make our business more money and increase efficiency.” For technicians, “It will make your day-to-day tasks easier and less frustrating to complete.” In this conversation, you might also gain more insight into each individual’s pain points, along with any concerns or push-back they might feel about the CMMS.
- Figure out if your company structure, culture and employee skills will allow for an effective CMMS implementation – and quickly address any changes that need to be made if you encounter any hiccups. Bottom-up adoption is crucial to effective implementation, and it will be much easier to proactively address any potential challenges.
- Determine what resources, training and tools are needed to make implementation and maintenance easier and who they need to be sent to. This can and should include a broad asset management policy, training videos and modules, articles, demos and free trials.
Step 2: Define the Goals and KPIs Your CMMS Will Help You Reach
As with any data-related tool, it is important to start with a clear understanding of what you want to know and what you want the tool to help you fix or achieve. That’s why it’s important, once you have all relevant insight, to define your goals and KPIs.
Specifically, you should define short-term goals, long-term goals, and the KPIs or metrics that you will measure to track your progress.
When setting these goals, ask yourself questions like:
- What are the biggest pain points right now for your maintenance team?
- What big-picture goals are you hoping to accomplish for your department and company?
- What specific maintenance KPIs can help you achieve those big-picture goals?
- What current metrics or insights are particularly helpful to your company now? Which ones are glaringly missing?
- What is the scope of your maintenance operations? How many assets do you have? Do you work across multiple sites?
- What state, local, or industry regulations and safety concerns do you have to comply with?
- What does your maintenance team’s current daily workload look like? Are there particular aspects of that workload that you would like to reduce or streamline?
Tips for Answering These Questions and Establishing Goals
- Have these discussions with your C-suite and key decision-makers. They will have strong opinions and a unique perspective on what success looks like and where your company and industry are heading.
- Be data-driven and precise. Find out exactly where your performance is weak – high downtime? Ongoing compliance concerns? – to determine the root causes and come up with a plan for monitoring and addressing these concerns.
- Get on the floor with your maintenance team for a clear understanding of your systems, processes and any areas that need improvement.
- Make sure that you have goals established for the next quarter, year, three years and five years.
- Understand your current costs and find out exactly where and how a CMMS can help you with cost savings.
Answering these questions will help you determine what features you need in a CMMS – and if you even need one at all. Maybe you already have a handle on your maintenance operations, maybe you notice huge technological shortcomings that a CMMS can help with – or maybe you need an EAM, which provides more functionality than a CMMS can offer.
Either way, you will get the answers you need by diving into these more specific questions.
Step 3: Compare Your CMMS Options
Ok, so say you answered the questions in step 2 and determined that a CMMS is, in fact, the best option for your business. Now you have to look at the specific features and the details of each software option until you find the tool that has the right cost, functionality and technical integrations for your business.
Finding the Right CMMS For Your Needs
Chances are there are a handful of solutions that you are already aware of or considering as a possible computerized maintenance management system solution for your company. These tips and questions will help you decide:
Questions to ask yourself:
- Budget: How much can you spend annually on a CMMS? Start by outlining a 1-, 3- and 5-year budget to determine what numbers are realistic for you.
- Features: Can you currently measure the performance of your assets? Do your assets have the capability to integrate with new technology? If so, which CMMS technologies can they integrate with?
- IT Capabilities: Could your IT team install an on-premise CMMS system? If not, talk to IT about a cloud adoption.
- Timeline: What is your company’s timeline for purchase, implementation and deployment of a CMMS system? Setting deadlines and sticking to a pre-established timeline can help you implement a system in a timely, effective manner.
- The Broader Environment: Will the CMMS you are looking at integrate with your existing systems and environment? What do you need to add to support the adoption of the new software? Examine your existing policies, communication channels and tools – and update where necessary.
- UX: Again, if your people do not like the CMMS or will not use it, implementation will be pointless. Make sure you effectively answer, “Why should I care?” and get your team on board.
Pay Extra Attention to the Trust Cost and ROI of a System
When answering these questions and finding the right system for you, CMMS cost can be the trickiest thing to figure out – and it is a crucial component. The right CMMS system will not only save you money in the long-term but also help you increase your ROI from day one.
When considering ROI and cost, ask yourself:
- Once again, what is your budget?
- What KPIs and metrics will you use to track ROI?
- What is the total cost of each CMMS option you are considering, including training, upgrades, support and additional subscriptions?
- Many CMMS systems charge based on the number of users. How many people will be using the system, and is this number likely to change in the future?
- What indirect costs do you have to take into account (things like training, additional infrastructure, IT support, etc.)?
- Will you be locked into a contract or is the pricing flexible for your system?
You can find more comprehensive help on this topic in our blog How to Determine Your CMMS ROI.
Final Considerations When Selecting a CMMS
Evaluate Your Vendor
Keep in mind that a good CMMS vendor will want to be your partner, and they will provide help with implementation, training and ongoing support. Implementation services, in particular, are a natural part of a CMMS project. Thorough vendors will acknowledge this and include these costs upfront.
Additionally, they should provide training in many forms and not just as a one-time activity. Any suggested formal training should be outlined clearly in initial discussions and should define key details including the duration, number of users that can be included in the sessions and the materials that will be provided.
Finally, once a CMMS is in place, questions will inevitably arise as your company works through growing pains. A good vendor will provide 24/7 support to help companies work through these issues, and they will be able to resolve and escalate any concerns when necessary.
If the vendor you are talking to does not offer this kind of help, that may not be the wisest solution to choose.
Pay Close Attention to the Features
Be realistic and thorough about what features you need and what features you can afford. Every CMMS offers tons of features and customizations, and you must strategically and proactively identify those that will truly benefit your business.
For example, today, more than ever, mobile and remote capabilities are vitally important. Many businesses struggle with lack of transparency, consistency, and communication across sites or between employees and departments because their existing tech is not mobile compatible or requires a Wi-Fi connection. A CMMS that offers a device-agnostic mobile app can help you sidestep these concerns.
Consider the Particulars of Your Implementation
CMMS implementation is difficult: your team has to migrate copious amounts of data, process design, establish configuration and best practices, and train others to live within this new data ecosystem. To help this process go smoothly, think proactively and ask questions before you purchase like:
- What does implementation, training and support look like for this CMMS? Does your vendor offer all the tools and help you will need to carry it out successfully?
- What can go wrong and how can you avoid those problems? You are bound to encounter an obstacle or two – and knowing what you will do when they appear can help you navigate them more effectively. Here, it may be useful to talk to friends in the industry to see what they dealt with and how they got ahead of any issues they faced.
- Once you find the right solution, what are your next steps to implementing a CMMS? Determine your timeline and notify relevant personnel to keep things on track.
- What is next? Successful implementation is only the beginning – from there, it is time to use the system, scale and see that ROI. Figure out how you will do that.
Choosing the right CMMS for your business can be a difficult decision, and it is one that you should not take lightly. That said, if you do your due diligence, ask the right questions, and take the time to establish your budget, goals, and technological needs and capabilities, you will find the right CMMS for your operation – and you will not regret it.