During the past two decades, Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) systems have been the preferred maintenance management solution for a growing number of customers across a broad spectrum of industry, corporate and service sectors. And there are good reasons for this. To begin, CMMSs are sophisticated and robust automated management systems that utilize thousands of data points that at any given time provide a user with an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, the status of an individual piece of equipment. These systems have the ability to monitor inventory levels, track and manage work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and most important, they can instantly determine which company assets require preventive maintenance (PM). It is this latter feature - preventive maintenance - that forms the epicenter and most valued aspect of CMMSs. The introduction of PMs into maintenance management software has been responsible for extended equipment lifespans, improved organization, better time management and labor utilization and ultimately, reduced operational costs and increased company profits.
As powerful as CMMSs are, their optimal performance and resulting cost savings can only be realized through appropriate implementation and consistent system use. When it comes to implementation, this refers to making the management software fully operational. This involves a number of steps including system planning, data integration, PM development and scheduling and staff training as well as ongoing tech support. Without proper CMMS software implementation, even the most feature-rich system will fall short of its intended goals.
The following are five tips on implementing CMMS software to ensure that the system will operate, as it should.
Get input and feedback from maintenance staff
Even before a CMMS system is purchased, it is essential that all staff members be fully invested in a maintenance management approach. This is the first step in securing successful CMMS software implementation. Gaining input from those who will be using the system will ensure that it will have the features that are the best fit for company’s needs, challenges and goals whether they be reducing reactive or corrective maintenance costs, decreasing equipment downtime or reducing technician utilization. It is also during this time that the maintenance team should decide how the CMMS would be customized to company needs. For example, this involves identifying which assets, inventory and users will be included in the system database. These choices will have a huge bearing on the scope of the CMMS system operation as well as how long and involved the data integration phase of implementation will take.
Assess company resources and set realistic implementation goals
As just noted, during the implementation phase of an automated system all critical data regarding inventory, assets and users are entered into the CMMS software. This is a time when business owners should carefully assess their own capabilities. There are a number of options available for this phase of CMMS software implementation based on customers’ needs, time and resources. Some customers who have the time and the in house technical resources may prefer to conduct the data integration on their own. When there is an existing asset and inventory database, it can be migrated to the new CMMS by the customer or with assistance of vendor supplied techs. CMMS vendors offer clients a choice of supports in the form of in house audits or remote and telephone tech support for implementation purposes.
Whether company owners choose to conduct their own asset and inventory audit or have a vendor’s tech specialist do it for them, here are some parameters for realistic timelines for these processes:
• Companies with 0- 100 assets = 30 days
• Companies with 200 assets = 45 days
• Companies with 201-500 assets = 90 days
Determine user roles and permissions
Many CMMS systems make it possible for maintenance managers to assign different levels of access to the CMMS software. This means that some users can have access to all parts of the system while others (perhaps in varying degrees) will not. This is particularly helpful when users differ based on their roles, responsibilities and even site locations. Maintenance managers need to consider these variables when assigning user access during the CMMS software implementation process.
Develop a preventive maintenance (PM) program
A customized preventive maintenance program is the most valued feature of CMMSs. For that reason and also because no two companies are alike, it must be configured to meet an organization’s unique needs. Its development is a critical aspect of CMMS software implementation. This part of the process involves reviewing equipment repair histories while also taking into account the company’s production cycle. In doing so, equipment can be prioritized based on age and/or repair frequency. On the other hand, PM schedules can be set during low usage times and/or inspection dates.
Undergo thorough user onboarding and training
These two CMMS software implementation functions should never be overlooked or downplayed because without them all other efforts could be rendered useless. A maintenance management system’s effectiveness relies heavily on consistent and appropriate use by maintenance staff. Onboarding and ongoing tech support are two ways of ensuring that the CMMS is doing the job it is intended to do.
As is the case with the supports previously described, many CMMS vendors also include in their system packages a variety of onboarding and ongoing resources to assist users in system use at the start and across time. These resources are available as online manuals, videos, email, chat and webinar recordings as well as telephone support.
There is no doubt that CMMSs are excellent maintenance management products. However, in spite of their proven track records, none will reach their potential without appropriate system implementation including user training. When considering the total cost of maintenance management systems, business owners need to weigh the costs of services in the time and staff needed for the software implementation against the costs associated with additional support services through a vendor. A careful review of a company’s objectives, budget and resources serve will guide business owners in selecting the implementation and onboarding services with the best fit. Investing in implementation services whether in house or through a vendor ensures appropriate system set up while onboarding supports lead to increased user adoption that in turn, lead to operations efficiency, increased equipment lifespans, reduced costs and a greater ROI.