What is a CMMS?

An easy to understand introduction to computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) & how they can help your business run smoother and more efficiently.

CMMS software (Computerized Maintenance Management System) is a highly sophisticated and robust database application that serves to streamline and track all aspects of an organization’s maintenance operations and provides technicians, managers and company owners with a real-time snapshot of their facility’s functioning.   As operations become larger and more complex, the need for a centralized database and access to key information increases to keep up with industry demands. CMMSs utilize thousands of data points which at any given time, can provide a user an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, it can provide the status of an individual piece of equipment. CMMS programs assist maintenance managers and workers to perform their day-to-day jobs more effectively by providing real-time data on machine and equipment downtime, inventory levels, upcoming scheduled and preventive maintenance, work order status and more.

Maintenance management software systems first emerged in the early 1970’s, and were used primarily by larger manufacturing plants. However, with the rapid rise of high powered PCs, the onset of the internet, and most recently, mobile device internet access, organizations and businesses of all sizes and from all industry sectors are implementing a CMMS solution. Today’s competitive economic climate, growing demands within industries as well as systems’ ease of use, efficiency and portability have motivated increasing numbers of companies to turn to CMMS software systems.

There is now a trend toward SaaS (Software as a service) or cloud based software deployment that provides buyers cost saving benefits (including low upfront costs), minimal demands on their IT departments and easy access to their data anywhere they have an internet connection. Facility management software systems are now being implemented across industry sectors including hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants, hotels, resorts, government facilities and retail chains, religious institutions, shopping malls, and more! Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS software) are ideal for virtually any facility – large or small - where equipment up time, efficient labor and workflow management, facility monitoring and reducing operation costs are a priority.


Discover how a solid CMMS system can benefit your organization based on industry


CMMS Software is Trending

CMMS is a software solution that has been around since businesses first started using computers. Early CMMSs operated on mainframe platforms primarily utilizing punch cards. Twenty-five years ago, most maintenance management systems involved huge installation processes and were very costly. Installations almost always involved a lot of customization and considerable time to deploy on internal computer systems and servers. These factors placed limits on the number of companies that were large enough to afford CMMSs at the time. Throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s with the emergence of smaller office computers, advances in CMMS software paved the way for systems that had the ability to handle more complex maintenance management tasks such as assigning work orders utilizing browser based LAN platforms. These developments made maintenance management systems more attractive to small and mid-sized companies.  Compared to the early days, today’s computerized maintenance management world has been turned completely upside down with accessible internet, and the explosion of smart phones and tablets. Maintenance managers are quickly shifting from installed, on premise deployments to SaaS browser-based solutions.  Web-based CMMS software is recognized as a win-win for both the maintenance management system provider and the customer. With cloud based deployment, CMMS updates are delivered in seconds to all customers and company data are securely maintained and backed -up in state-of-the art data centers. These developments have completely removed the need and the cost for onsite IT departments from the maintenance management equation.

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One integrated CMMS software, many powerful features

A powerful CMMS program consists of a variety of features. Common features include: 

Some CMMS systems include these higher level features:

  • Helpdesk

  • Interactive floor plans

  • Dashboards

  • Predictive maintenance

  • Inspection scheduling

  • Room booking

  • Mobile application


A solid CMMS system has many benefits

Generally, a CMMS system is designed to help facility and maintenance managers ensure that their facilities and equipment are up and running as expected.  When routinely used, the benefits of the system go well beyond this. Maintenance management systems help to improve productivity by reducing equipment downtime and extending equipment lifespans. When used properly, a CMMS solution identifies bottlenecks quickly and in real time, and ultimately helps to prevent problems before they occur.

The following are some key benefits implementing a CMMS provide:


Better decision making from real time access to maintenance information 

A web based maintenance software lets managers compile information on an organization's maintenance operations, easily refer to historical data and records, and make forecasts and informed decisions about what needs to be done.


Reduced downtime of equipment and extended life-cycle

Organizations make large capital investments in equipment and other assets. CMMS systems have tools to ensure that preventative maintenance schedules are in place and are being carried out. Preventive maintenance decreases equipment failure and in turn reduces repair costs. In addition, routine preventive maintenance extends the longevity of equipment. These cost saving factors all contribute to a return on investment (ROI).


Reduced labor costs from increased productivity and improved scheduling

Maintenance management systems have tools that help managers track utilization rates and show variances between estimated labor time and actual time. Most CMMS programs have calendar tools that allow managers to make informed decisions about labor resource allocation and scheduling. These tools help identify under-utilization and productivity bottlenecks as well as insights into how to make improvements in both.


Faster responsiveness to work orders and critical events

Web-based maintenance CMMS systems trigger real-time e-mail alerts when incidents occur. Mobile devices receive notifications instantly resulting in improved response time by technicians and contractors. Maintenance managers can also routinely monitor KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as MTR (Mean Time to Repair) and MTTR (Mean Time to Respond). Many computerized maintenance programs can provide these important metrics which factor into assessing a company’s productivity and operations. 


CMMS Software Dashboard Screenshots



Better inventory management with a CMMS

Having the right part replacement when it’s needed can make all the difference when a piece of equipment goes down. Since companies do not want to carry too much inventory because of up-front cost, depreciation over time, and loss due to theft, CMMS software makes it possible for maintenance managers to apply “Just-in-Time” principles to inventory supply levels. Computerized maintenance programs have inventory management tools that track parts usage and reorder levels. The system can also be configured to identify when inventory reaches an assigned threshold and then notify purchasing about which orders are to be sent to suppliers.


Other CMMS benefits include:

  • Facilitation of standard operating procedures
  • Transparency
  • Better performance measurements
  • Improved compliance and standards tracking and staff-training

Ultimately, the end goal of an automated maintenance management system is improved customer satisfaction. When facilities and equipment are operating well, regardless of industry, the customer is happier. 


Who Uses Maintenance Management Software?

CMMS software was initially used by manufacturers. Today, however, these solutions are being used by organizations, both private and public in a variety of industry sectors. They are being implemented in healthcare facilities, hospitality, educational institutions, municipalities, non-profits, manufacturing, buildings and facilities, and any other organizations where facility and asset management are viewed as a high priority. On a more micro level, until recently, CMMS systems, were used primarily by maintenance and facility managers, COOs and CFOs, technicians and mechanics. This was primarily due to the high cost of installations and user fees. Recently, some maintenance management systems are offering unlimited users and because of this, the systems are now more affordable. With unlimited user packages, organizations are expanding CMMS users to upper management, the entire maintenance and facilities department and even all employees with requester access. Maintenance management software with its flexible platform including its mobile device app has become extremely attractive to and suitable for a broad range of industries.