Who doesn’t love the word free? Most people jump at the opportunity to save money, let alone get something of value for no cost at all.

How about free CMMS software? Imagine revolutionizing your entire workplace with software tools that promise to automate and manage preventive maintenance, equipment and assets, work orders, inventory, technicians and contractors.

Do I have your attention? Let’s dig deeper into what free CMMS software (also known as EAM software) really is and see if it makes sense.

Free CMMS Software

Let’s take a few seconds and do some research. What do you see when you type in Free CMMS software on Google? Take a close look at the top 10 search results., Most of the websites that come up are really offering a Free Trial and not free software services.

The few that do offer free CMMS software come with very basic functionality or with restrictions on use which ultimately defeats the purpose of using a CMMS  in the first place. If your maintenance department processes on average 50-100 work orders per month and the free software only allows you to process 20, the free software won’t be that useful.

The same applies to free applications that limit users to the number of assets or equipment. If you are only allowed 10 assets, but have more than 50 that you want to track, value declines.

Another key consideration that is almost always overlooked is the total cost of ownership (TCO) and is the real purpose of this article. We hope to make maintenance and facilities professionals aware of the concept of TCO and factor that in if and when searching for a maintenance management software system.

While the idea of free seems super enticing initially, its TCO that we should really think about.

Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

TCO can easily be explained through a scenario that most of us are familiar with – “buying and owning a house”.

TCO includes not just the cost of the house but also the upkeep involved in future repairs, maintenance,time, bills and other..

Now let’s apply this to CMMS software.

A maintenance manager of a manufacturing plant is responsible for maintaining production machinery and the facility’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing equipment. The maintenance manager has the following options:

  1. Go with the status quo and rely on manual methods and internal resources (labor) to manage the maintenance operations. The status quo involves no additional direct costs
  2. Use a “free” CMMS that would meet the bare minimum requirements and support a fraction of the work requirements. But still, have some automation in place.
  3. Spend a month, research a few solid CMMS software and implement a solution that is a good fit for the manufacturing plant’s maintenance department. This would be something that meets the needs of the company but paid for.

When organizations choose to rely on internal resources (Excel.in-house developed program from IT, paper based systems) alone or opt for a free CMMS software most often, they fail to consider TCO.

TCO includes such variables as:

  • Project management
  • Database management
  • Server maintenance
  • Firewall
  • Security
  • Training and onboarding
  • Help desk resources

All of the above involve time, people and other resources, which ultimately add up to costs.

Free CMMS often are installed or downloadable or companies often also search for on premise systems to avoid paying ongoing subscription fees. What they fail to consider is what SaaS (software as a service) deployment models bundle into the annual or monthly fee.

Most often web-based CMMS software includes updates, technical support, some level of consulting, hosting, data back ups and more. These benefits can add up to a lot of money and are most often essential.

Check out Software Advice’s TCO calculator to calculate CMMS software cost and compare On premise vs Software as a Service for a closer look at these hidden costs.

free cmms software

Why Opt for a CMMS that You Pay for?

Obviously we at Hippo CMMS will want to make a case to pay a subscription fees for a CMMS. Truthfully if it makes sense to go for a free system, we are all for it and support the idea.

But if your company has hit a tipping point, recognizing the need for maintenance management software, then the operation is large enough that most free CMMS options won’t have what’s needed.

Having been in the CMMS business for more than a decade, it baffles us why organizations squander precious time and resources looking for a ‘free cmms software’.



A CMMS comes with an automated service that takes care of everything right from daily calendar alerts to equipment management to inventory updates.

Being responsible for all aspects and events in a facility is complex and having a reliable CMMS software ensures that all work and assets are being logged and hold facility and maintenance managers, technicians and contractors accountable.

Fewer things fall through the cracks and the end is result is more efficiently run facility.

Experts at Your Service 24*7

CMMS software experts speak CMMS 24*7. Would you rather have your facility managed by experts that know the ins and outs of equipment and facility management or by project managers that would be catering to several other company requirements at the same time?

It’s the experience that CMMS software experts bring to the table along with providing software that improves the way facilities operate. Paying for a CMMS allows for the experts to bring in their experience of working across many companies and sectors ensuring that asset maintenance management best practices are followed.


While it may be tempting to go for “free cmms software”, what a lot of businesses don’t realize is that the cost for subscribing to paid for CMMS has decreased significantly, and is much less than traditional on premise deployments.

We recommend revisiting various CMMS pricing if you have not looked into it in the past 2 years. If money is an issue, you will be pleasantly surprised with some of the subscription fees.

In fact, most CMMS software companies allow for a “try and buy”, allowing users to experience the software before investing in it.

User fees can be as low as $45 USD/month for entry level packages and some offer unlimited users as an economical option for larger departments.

CMMS license fees aren’t that expensive if you shop around and when you consider the service, support and other benefits bundled into it.


One of the key benefits of a solid CMMS is the ability for users to customize it to meet their specific maintenance operational requirements. This is often not the case with free CMMS software.

Free software is usually out of the box, and highly limited in customization features. By going with a free option, you’ll be forgoing the ability to have timely email alerts and notifications, unique user interface design, custom and mandatory fields, reports, and user roles and permissions.

Paid for CMMS software on the other hand includes the above customization features and often more; integration capabilities, barcode scanning, interactive maps and floor plans, preventive maintenance among many others.

These features pay off in the end by streamlining and improving facilities operations.

To conclude, to answer the question, “Is free CMMS software really free?”, we’ll let you decide. In the short term it can be tempting to go for free CMMS software, but in the long run is the Total Cost of Ownership less?

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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