Making the decision to shift a company’s maintenance management from a spreadsheet to a Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) system can be a long and often difficult process. Change can be difficult - even if it is for the better. Concerns typically center on how difficult the process will be, how well maintenance staff will receive it, the amount of time it will take to implement and of course, what the costs will be.
Things may become even more challenging once the hunt for the right and most cost effective CMMS for your company begins. Maintenance management software has become a burgeoning industry in recent years. As the demand for more efficient ways of managing company operations grows, CMMS vendors continue to respond by offering different options, features and price structures. A cursory search on Google for the keyword term, “CMMS companies” produced 625,000 website links. It’s no wonder that company owners and managers are finding the process of researching maintenance management software a daunting task. The following are some tips aimed at taking the confusion and frustration out of your CMMS search.
Know your company’s needs
No two companies are alike since differences exist in size, methods of operation, facility structure and staff culture. To find the best CMMS solution for your company, it is best to start by consulting with a team of people involved in your facility’s operations. These may include individuals who work in maintenance and/or who are outside contractors and vendors. These people will be in the best position to help you to determine the features needed to successfully transfer 100% of your maintenance management operations over to an automated software system. As a team, you can create a list of features that are required as well as a secondary wish list that include other features you’d find helpful but not necessary. Here are some frequently requested features:
- Tracking monthly or quarterly maintenance repair costs
- Reducing equipment downtime with preventive maintenance tools
- Eliminating the need for paper
- Simple work order management and work order request forms
- Ability to process work orders using mobile devices
- Method for tracking location of equipment and parts
- Calendar system for planning maintenance activities
- Improving communication between team members and to upper management, as needed
With your feature lists completed, you can now seek out CMMS vendors who offer the features you are looking for.
Deciding on a CMMS deployment
The next level of decision-making involves determining which CMMS format is best suited to your company needs. Although there is considerable overlap in the CMMS products, they can be most readily distinguished by their platforms as being either “cloud based” or “on premise”. Simply put, cloud based systems rely on the vendor hosting data on its own servers whereas on premise systems require a company to install and host its data on its own equipment, on site. The former relies on the vendor maintaining the system whereas the latter relies on in-house maintenance of the system software and hardware by a staff IT specialist.
Each platform comes with benefits as well as drawbacks. Many customers are attracted to cloud based CMMSs for two main reasons: lower cost and no maintenance. Other customers prefer on-site systems because they provide maintenance managers with full control and customizability of their data and the system. On premise system operators can schedule their system maintenance and upgrades according to their own schedule whereas cloud based maintenance and upgrades are conducted according to the vendor’s schedule. Additionally, cloud based platforms offer mobile accessibility whereas on site platforms do not. Finally, there is a sizable cost differential between the two CMMS platforms with on premise platforms having much higher upfront costs.
CMMS Software Cost
As noted, there are differences in CMMS software based on the feature and service options selected as well as by system platforms. To begin with the latter, on premise platforms tend to cost three times more than the annual license fee of web-based systems. However, this CMMS cost is a one-time payment as there are no additional system fees. On the other hand, the initial cost for a cloud-based system is lower but over time, the long-term costs associated with licensing fees are greater (i.e., annual subscription/licensing fee estimated at $1500 per year for a small maintenance department). In terms of associated and/or ongoing costs, on premise CMMS platforms require hardware, firewalls and antivirus software as well as an IT staffer who will maintain and manage all aspects of the system functioning including installation, data entry, upgrading, security and staff training. Cloud based CMMSs do not require these added costs as system supports include software updates, system upgrades, security, and tech support. As a note of caution, when inquiring about a cloud based system, be sure to determine if price quotes are based on pay per user, pay per module (i.e., preventive maintenance, inventory management), pay per work order or a fee based on a one time licensing fee. There are considerable cost differences among these various pricing schemes.
Additional CMMS software costs include in house data entry and online tutorials for staff onboarding. Some vendors will bundle these into their annual licensing fees but these systems tend to be more expensive than basic or bare bones CMMSs. Many vendors also offer on-site inventory audits and staff onboarding, again at an added cost. In general, the more options selected on either maintenance management platform, the more costly they will be. In the end, it should be remembered that whereas on premise systems offer complete independence for CMMS purchasers, cloud based systems are subject to an ongoing vendor relationship to preserve data availability.
The move to a CMMS can be a confusing, frustrating, stressful and expensive process. Since the cost of these systems vary greatly depending on the features and platform selected - ranging from $500 to $8000 for licensing fees and ongoing monthly subscription fees ranging from $50 to $250 - it is important to ascertain your company’s needs, resources and budget. Having the right information before making your decision will make the task of finding the system with the right fit much easier. By taking the time to conduct a thorough review of the products found in the maintenance management marketplace, customers will have the best chance of finding a CMMS solution that will result in increased organizational efficiency, reduced costs and increased profits.