You’ve decided to get CMMS software for more uptime and better tracking. But because you’ve never implemented one before, the process can look intimidating. The good news is that the team at Hippo has completed many successful CMMS implementations. We’re here to help. Here’s how. 

When it comes to CMMS software implementation, there are no guarantees. In fact, some estimate the failure rate across industries is as high as 80%. 

What steps can you take to ensure success?

According to Hippo Implementation Specialist Carla Prentice, how you think about your data is just as important as what you do with it.  

Before you even start your CMMS implementation, change how you think about data 

Here are some important steps you can take even before you’re fully committed to getting a CMMS:

  1. Start treating data as valuable.
  2. Develop processes to keep it safe
  3. Try to leverage it for better decision-making.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a large operation or a small business owner juggling multiple roles; you can always start with the basics. Track down all those old paper O&M manuals, blueprints, and warranties. Even though you might still be working with paper- or spreadsheet-based work orders, which can be slow and prone to error, try to hold onto as much of your data as possible. Keep your paperwork in one spot and back up those computer files. Then go over your on-demand work orders, looking for trends. For example, if the sink in the third-floor bathroom springs a leak every three months, try to set a PM to check on it every two and a half.

Working with these older methods is frustrating, but it helps everyone understand data’s role and appreciate what it can deliver.

Once you’re ready to implement a CMMS, it’s all about planning ahead and doing things in the right order. 

Build the right CMMS software implementation team 

Regardless of your organization’s size, you need to get the right people involved in setting up the CMMS database. 

After working on many projects, Carla now always encourages organizations to think of ways to create and foster buy-in, internal support for the project. Ask yourself: 

  • Who needs to support the project for it to be a success? 
  • Who is going to be the hardest to convince? 
  • How can I demonstrate the project’s value to them? 

For that last question, try to tailor your pitch. When talking with techs, focus on how a good CMMS makes life less stressful. When you can plan work in advance, there are fewer surprises because you’re finding and fixing little issues before they have a chance to become big problems. But with other people in the organization, you might explain how the software helps you track spending, which is always the first step to cutting costs. 

In Carla’s experience, senior technicians rarely need convincing. The myth of the “old-timer” who shuns technology and refuses to change is just that, a myth. In fact, senior technicians often make the best points of contact between Hippo and the organization. They know everything about the facility, and they are excited about standardizing and streamlining workflows. 

Above all, the team needs to have a sense of ownership of both the implementation and the final CMMS database. Because they’re the ones who eventually use it most, they need to make sure it reflects their workflows and goals. 

And it’s in the next step where they make that happen. 

Decide how you’re going to arrange the data in the CMMS software 

Carla loves playing computer games where you build virtual worlds. When she works with teams to set up databases, she wants them to imagine they’re playing along with her. “I ask them to imagine how they’re going to organize everything. What’s the foundation? How does it all hang together?” 

Design an information architecture with a clear hierarchy 

It’s worth first defining those terms. Information architecture just means how you organize your data. Information hierarchy is how you treat some data as more important. 

Imagine you’ve decided to clean out the garage. Now, where’s the best place to put the lawnmower? It should go by the back door because then it’s easy to push it into the backyard. What about the spare tire jack? You rarely use it so it can go at the back of a low shelf. Now it’s safely out of the way. For every item, you find a spot that matches how you use it. 

It’s basically the same for your data. You need to find ways to organize it that match how you use it. According to Carla, a lot of people make these decisions based on their industry. For example, manufacturers focus on assets and equipment. Hotels, though, prefer an architecture based more on location. 

Carla encourages the team to walk around the facility and think about how they’re going to organize their data. By room? Department? Inside a room, are they going to divide the assets into production lines? Should they subdivide each production line into discrete pieces of equipment? These are important decisions because how you organize the data affects how you track your maintenance programs. 

Pick a name for everything you need to maintain and track 

Because names are a big part of the architecture, Carla likes to start talking about them early in the process. “We can use asset IDs and serial numbers, but you also need to think in terms of the end-user. How are they going to know they’re working on the right piece of equipment?” 

She wants the implementation team to make the jump from talking about “the room with three boilers in it” to “Boiler One, Boiler Two, and Boiler Three.” It seems really basic, and it is. But it’s also critical. If you want to track your assets accurately, you need ways to talk about them precisely. 

Think about it this way: What’s the first thing a doctor learns at med school? The names for all the parts of the body. 

Carla has a lot of ideas about what you can do to succeed. She also has advice on how to avoid some common roadblocks. 

Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to finish the CMMS implementation 

How long it takes depends on many factors, including: 

  • Industry 
  • Quality of existing data 
  • Number of assets and equipment 
  • Size of the implementation team 

It also depends on the age of the equipment. If you have a newer facility with modern equipment, it’s easier to track down asset IDs and serial numbers. And often, you can download or request digital manuals and schematics directly from the manufacturer’s website. But with older equipment, someone might have to go around copying names off scratched nameplates. 

Size and number of facilities also plays a role. Carla gives examples on either end of the spectrum: a one-room, small-scale manufacturing operation vs. a gated community with many buildings spread out over multiple locations. 

The key is not to rush and plan realistically. One of the important ways Carla helps implementation teams is by working with them to establish reasonable timelines and reachable milestones. 

Develop preventive maintenance and other programs after you have your data in place 

Sometimes organizations have an existing preventive maintenance plan they want to use as the basis for their CMMS database. The problem is they’re trying to move in the wrong direction. 

First, you need to have your assets, equipment, and inventory set up in the database. You need to have everything named and organized. Then you can start to set up scheduled inspections and tasks. 

You can’t schedule a PM to inspect an asset if that asset doesn’t have a name in the system. There’s no way to include the PM’s associated parts and materials if you haven’t added the inventory to the database. 

You can think of a preventive maintenance program as the roof of the house you’re building. It’s not possible to do the roof first.  

Next steps 

Some organizations choose to do a lot of the work themselves. Hippo’s implementation specialists help guide them through the process, but the organization does the legwork when it comes down to collecting the data. For example, Carla can quickly teach anyone how to upload images so that every record contains a picture of its associated asset. But it’s up to someone at the organization to go out to the asset, take that picture, and upload it. 

For other organizations, it makes a lot more sense to bring professional auditors onsite, and Hippo offers that option, too. But the only way to know which option works best for your specific situation is to reach out and connect. 

The more we know about your challenges and goals, the more we can help. 

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan has been covering asset management, maintenance software, and SaaS solutions since joining Hippo CMMS. Prior to that, he wrote for textbooks and video games.
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