What is CMMS software? Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) have been used by organizations since as early as the 70’s. Initially they were used by manufacturers to monitor equipment, labor, and inventory ensuring that production was optimized and equipment downtime reduced. Since their introduction, we have seen more industries adopt maintenance management software. Software has become more user-friendly, versatile and scalable over the last few decades, making them applicable to hospitals, colleges, office buildings, retailers, religious institutions and more. Still many maintenance and facility managers have strong reservations about implementing a CMMS at their company due to negative impressions they hold. This article sets the record straight by providing support that counters commonly held myths and misconceptions around the disadvantages of CMMS Software.

Myth #1: CMMS has a high failure rate

Figures on CMMS success rates are not promising. The research on CMMS implementation varies, with some studies reporting failure rates starting at 40% and others even as high as 80%! With stats like this, having reservations about implementing maintenance management software is justified. The truth is there isn’t a lot of research about CMMS systems to go on and what is available is often outdated. Unfortunately, this short-sited and less than current information shapes our overall understanding of CMMS success.

In actuality, maintenance software systems are continually improving and more companies in different sectors are seeking out CMMS software. With technical innovation and significant growth, an 80% failure rate seems unlikely in today’s market. In the past, CMMS installations involved significant training, maintenance, and complicated systems that were not easy to learn.

As the industry evolved we learned a few lessons along the way. There are many factors that are necessary for implementation to succeed;

  • Understanding the scope of the project
  • Understanding of CMMS expectations
  • Management commitment
  • Having staff prepared for change
  • Good collection of data and data entry
  • Training and vendor support

Today, we see CMMS vendors offering buyers many ways to get acquainted with new software before purchasing including free trials and live demos. These programs allows buyers to test drive the software without committing and allows users to compare different software systems against one another.

We know more about CMMS than we did 20 years ago. It’s important to conduct thorough research before acquiring a CMMS and make sure you dedicate time to planning and implementing your system from the beginning. This includes getting buy-in from your maintenance team and receiving adequate training to optimize your system’s features. For more information on proper CMMS software implementation, read our post here.

Myth #2: CMMS is too expensive for our organization

In the past, maintenance software was very costly to implement. At their onset, CMMS were deployed on-site and involved a lot of customization, configuration, training and support. As with most technology, costs decrease over time. CMMS vendors have become more efficient with development and deployment, and increased competition has brought prices down significantly.

25 years ago companies could easily pay $50,000 to implement a facility management software at their facility. There were fees for on-site installation, customization and configuration, consultation, training and individual user licenses. In addition, companies expected to pay additional ongoing fees for software updates and technical support. The CMMS market has seen some significant changes that resulted in bringing costs down.

  • There are currently well over 200 different CMMS software options available. Increased competition has driven down price.
  • Vendors offer SaaS (software as a service) deployment which has almost completely eliminated high start-up costs. With web-based CMMS software updates and maintenance are bundled together. Ongoing technical support is included as well.
  • Unlimited user subscriptions are available from some vendors, allowing companies more flexibility and avoid paying high fees for multiple users.
  • With mobile and web-based technology there is less reliance on hardware and more on software.

Believe it or not, if you do your research you could find CMMS solutions (with unlimited users) for $1,200/year with little or no set up and training costs. This was not the case 25 years ago.

Myth #3: CMMS users need to be tech-savvy

When CMMS systems first hit the scene high computer literacy was a must if you were going to use them. Using computers, their operating systems and database management required significant training and knowledge. There was a lot of emphasis on hardware as well. The computer know how exceeded what typical maintenance employees (and most people altogther) were equipped with. 

Today we see a completely different CMMS. Software developers have access to tools that allow them to design software so it is easy to learn. Further, with web-based deployment, IT departments are not required to maintain the system. Updates are automatic, and there are plenty of training and support instruments available to end users. Today’s maintenance software is accessible anywhere there is an internet connection, has built in training video libraries, live chat with technical support and on demand training through screen sharing technology like GotoMeeting.

Today’s CMMS has well designed user interface, dashboards, easy to use report generators, flexible user options, and mobile access.

Myth #4: CMMS does not apply to small businesses

If you were exposed to maintenance management software early on, no doubt you would think that they are not suitable for small businesses (under 100 employees). This view stems from the fact that CMMS systems were expensive, required a lot of time and resources to implement and were very complex, involving functionality and features geared towards large operations.

Today we see many small businesses using CMMS software. The single driving force being  the ineffectiveness of tracking maintenance using paper or spreadsheets. Once managers feel they have outgrown these methods they look to maintenance management software. Today’s applications are more scalable than what we saw 25 years ago. Legacy computerized maintenance management systems had the one size fits all approach, high start-up costs, and a lot of time required for installations made them inaccessible to small companies. Buyers today can opt out of modules they don’t require and scale up when the time is right. We commonly see small companies using CMMS for preventive maintenance only, while others use the corrective maintenance and inventory management modules. The flexibility we see with today’s software has made it accessible to small, medium and large organizations alike. Even better is a modern CMMS’ ability to scale with your business size, allowing your CMMS to continuously grow with you as you do. By mixing and matching important CMMS modules, we’ve finally put to rest the idea that “CMMS is more than we need right now.”

Myth #5: Web-based CMMS has high risks

The biggest fear of using web-based CMMS software directly relates to one of its biggest benefits – outsourcing the IT burden to a specialized provider. This is seen by most as a huge plus, but if you are handling sensitive customer data, security becomes an issue.

Security risk is minimized if you do your due diligence. CMMS software vendors offering SaaS deployment are ready to answer and provide any security questions you can throw at them.  The fact is software providers store customer data in state of the art data centers where every precaution is taken in order to abate security threats. At the end of the day you need to weigh the benefits against the costs. And the benefits are many; no hardware costs, back up and disaster recovery, low maintenance, and mobility.

If your organization maintains top secret military facilities and equipment, web-based maintenance software might not be an option, but for other organizations with less “sensitive” data, it’s definitely worth considering.

Maintenance management software systems have quickly evolved over recent decades. Prices are significantly reduced and systems have become more accessible for the average technical user. Systems are no longer limited to large enterprises with huge maintenance departments, rather any organization small or large can benefit from a streamlined maintenance department. We are hearing  more success stories than failures.  And we are seeing that cloud computing is an incredibly secure software delivery method. As more and more companies opt for a CMMS system, maintenance departments of all sizes are seeing significant cost savings in maintenance repair resulting in an overall competitive advantage from their CMMS. To learn more about the benefits of CMMS software, read our article here.

If your experience with CMMS software is with a 15-20 year old application, it’s time to see what’s out there.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised and one step closer to a more optimized maintenance department.



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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