Making a move to a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) can be challenging. Careful thought should be given to a company’s needs and size, the costs of the CMMS software and of course, to the benefits of having it – i.e., savings in time, resources, efficiency as well as a return on investment (ROI). And even once a company has found the maintenance management system that is the best fit for its organization, there is still one other issue that still needs to be resolved; that being, what implementation or onboarding services will be required. Companies purchasing CMMS software need to consider how and who will be responsible for the software installation and setup, and software training?
The answer to this question rests on the following three factors:
- Budget – the cost of having the implementation conducted by company staff vs. the cost of having a vendor technician conduct the CMMS installation.
- Time – the amount of time (and cost involved in doing so) that will be spent by company staff vs. the cost of a vendor technician.
- Resources – the staff employees with the skills needed to conduct the CMMS implementation and onboarding
Since companies vary in their ability to manage the software setup and implementation, it is helpful to know that CMMS vendors offer a variety of services at different price levels to meet a range of needs. In general, vendors offer the following options for management system implementation:
- Remote Assistance Only – with online or phone assistance, a company is responsible for the complete installation and set-up of the CMMS software.
- Data Import & Remote Assistance Only – companies with existing data (in spreadsheet format, CSV file) can be assisted in moving it to the management software.
- Full Integration – a vendor technician will take care of all aspects of implementation from inventory audit to data input, system set-up, staff software training to going live.
When deciding on the level of assistance needed, the following six factors should be taken into consideration:
1. Existing maintenance data
As suggested previously, companies may already have existing data while others do not. In some cases, a company may be moving to another CMMS software from an existing one, or have data on a preventive maintenance software, a spreadsheet or a CSV file. In these cases, a CMMS vendor can facilitate this process by cleaning or scrubbing data (i.e., removing redundant or error-ridden data) and importing it into the new system in the proper format.
2. Size of company
Consider the size of the company involved. Will the system use be limited to one site or will there be multiple sites involved? For large companies with multitudes of stores, a CMMS will be used enterprise-wide. In this case, all company sites need to be set up consistently so that all maintenance management requirements are met in the same way. If not, the CMMS software will not perform as it should or deliver the ROI expected.
3. Planned CMMS Implementation Time Frame
Time is an important variable regarding real and opportunity cost factors. The reality is, CMMS implementation takes time. The scope of the implementation also needs to be considered. For example, how many assets will be added to the system and will there be additional data added (i.e., floor plan images, etc.)? Setting realistic timelines for creating a complete inventory list also provides a framework for the task completion. The following provides an idea of realistic timelines for conducting an independent company audit:
- Companies with 0- 100 assets = 30 days
- Companies with 200 assets = 45 days
- Companies with 201-500 assets = 90 days
4. Comprehensiveness of CMMS data input
A company needs to decide on the scope of the data to be inputted. Will the data be restricted to equipment and assets or will it also include images, manuals, blueprints, etc? Adding additional data to the system will take time and resources. This additional effort needs to be weighed against objectives for CMMS usage and projected outcomes.
5. Resources available to set up CMMS
Apart from the time commitment required for a CMMS set up, having people who are able and available to do the task is an important consideration. As noted, a CMMS implementation is time-consuming which means that maintenance techs and managers will have to take time away from their day to day responsibilities to collect equipment and parts lists.
6. Technical ability of software users
When contemplating an in-house CMMS set up, careful consideration should be given to how tech-savvy system users are. While the system set up is relatively straightforward, tech-savvy operators will be more likely to complete the CMMS implementation quickly and accurately with less training required than those who are not tech savvy.
CMMS onboarding and implementation is an important step in the system’s success. A careful review of a company’s objectives, budget and resources will guide a decision on what onboarding services to use. At a minimum, assistance with data input will be needed if there are no tech-savvy users with some familiarity with CMMS available. While onboarding services are not cheap, they will pay dividends in the end when it comes to meeting maintenance management objectives and expected ROI. Having said this, it is important to be alert to vendors who offer unlimited lifetime training and free set up; neither of these CMMS features are sustainable or realistic. Similarly, be wary of CMMS vendors who advertise, no training required – buy now! This is not true either. Moving forward with a CMMS is an important investment decision and requires that purchasers do due diligence by checking customer reviews, reading comments on support and training, and by asking prospective vendors for references in a relevant industry. In the end, the CMMS selected will be the best fit for a company’s industry, size, needs, and budget.