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Entering the world of Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) can be a bit overwhelming. There is no doubt that simply arriving at the decision to move beyond a traditional “pencil and paper” approach to tracking company operations can be challenging. However, now facing the dilemma of selecting the best CMMS software for your business raises the confusion bar to a whole new level. If you’ve just started your online search, you’ve probably come across a lot of vendors offering a myriad of systems, formats and service options. The foremost question in the minds of many in your position is “where do I start when looking for the best CMMS software for my company?”
But, what is a CMMS Software? Sorting through the maze of CMMS software information without having a clear understanding of some of the basics needed to guide your search is not only frustrating but it can also result in making a less than optimal choice in a maintenance management system. Here, I will provide a foundation for your search by identifying the key concepts to compare CMMS software options. Armed with this information, you will be better prepared when selecting the CMMS software that is the right fit for your organization.
CMMS Software is well suited to companies spanning a broad range of industry, service and corporate sectors including manufacturing, mining, healthcare and hospitality, to name a few. In terms of functionality, these systems offer businesses the ability to monitor inventory levels, track work orders, quickly generate accurate reports, and instantly determine which of their assets require preventive maintenance.
An important starting point is being clear on what you need in a maintenance management system and how you plan to utilize it with the resources available to you. To make this determination, it is best to gather feedback from your maintenance staff to identify the challenges associated with the maintenance approach currently in place and to learn what is needed to overcome them. Since no two companies are alike, careful consideration should be given to your organization’s structure and culture, the number of employees, production cycles, industry trends and growth potential, to name a few. It is also important to take into account your resources and staff’s ability to utilize the CMMS software. Although most CMMS softwares do not require any computer skills beyond a click or a tap, gaining a sense of employee receptiveness to adopting an automated maintenance system is important in determining onboarding requirements. Similarly, business owners need to be cognizant of their in house resources when it comes to implementing the CMMS software. CMMS vendors are able to accommodate a range of client needs once they are made aware of them.
Further to the point of assessing company resources is determining which CMMS software format is best suited to your company needs. Although there is considerable overlap in the CMMS products, they are most readily discerned by their platform types as being either “cloud based” or “on premise”. Simply put, cloud based systems depend on the vendor hosting data on its own servers whereas on premise systems require a company technician to install and host its data on its own equipment, within its facility. 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 has benefits and limitations. Many customers find cloud based CMMSs appealing for two 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 operate according to the vendor’s schedule. For customers seeking portability, cloud based platforms offer mobile accessibility whereas on site platforms do not. Finally, on premise platforms have much higher upfront costs while cloud based systems come with yearly subscription fees.
Purchasing a CMMS software system is a large investment in terms of time, money and resources. As noted, there is a wide range of packages offering a variety of features and supports. Pay attention to what vendors are including in their base price as often the lower priced packages do not include ongoing tech support. Apart from the already noted differences in costs between on premise and cloud based formats, there are other costs that are associated with implementation as well as online tutorials for staff onboarding. Some vendors will bundle these into their annual licensing fees for cloud based platforms but these systems tend to be more expensive than basic 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. Carefully weigh the overall CMMS software cost including any add-on option costs for all system format types and packages.
CMMS software is powerful and robust and offers a wide range of features including preventive maintenance schedules, mobile access, barcode scanning capabilities and architectural renderings. Considered together, these and other features provide business owners with an opportunity to fully automate their maintenance management now and as they grow in an effortless and efficient way. The key to selecting the best CMMS software package is to become informed, ask questions and then select the one that is the best fit for your organization. When used as it is designed, CMMS software will improve maintenance management efficiency, reduce labor utilization and increase equipment lifespans. Taken together, CMMSs will provide an excellent return on investment with increased bottom lines.