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A free trial can be an important part of finding the right CMMS solution. It's your chance to get your hands on the software, see how it works, and decide if it works for you. 

But it's just like most opportunities: you need to be prepared to get the most out of it. 

When it comes to free trials, what should you be looking for and what are the best ways to find it? 

Here are some of the steps you can take to get the most out of your free trial. 

Start prepping before the trial starts 

It's a good idea to get started before the trial officially starts. Generally, you have about two weeks of access, which is plenty of time, but you don't want to waste any of it doing the legwork you could have done early. 

What does that legwork look like? 

Make sure you have a clear sense of what you want to accomplish with the trial. It could be from as simple as "I want to know if this CMMS software solution is any good" to as complex as a 100-item checklist covering every aspect of CMMS software design and application.

Set time aside to give yourself a chance to explore the CMMS. If you already know that next week is packed with PMs involving the whole crew plus third-party vendors, and on top of that, you're expecting a big shipment of parts and materials that then need to be sorted and carefully added to your inventory. Also, three of your best technicians are going to be on vacation...

Every week is busy for maintenance departments, especially if the reason you're looking at modern CMMS solutions is that you're still struggling under old paper and spreadsheet methods. Schedule some time to make sure you get as much out of the trial as possible. 

Set time aside for anyone else who you want to look at the software, too, especially maintenance techs. It can be as formal as a sit-down meeting to as informal as a chat over lunch. 

Across industries, the failure rates for implementations can be as high as 80%, often because the people who should be using the software decide that it's too hard to learn, that it just gets in the way. 

 

Wayne Metro success story

 

You can help yourself avoid this problem by making sure early on that techs are on board. Getting the right reaction from them goes a long way to making your whole CMMS project is a success. 

Make sure you have contact information for someone at the CMMS provider. If you're already at the stage where you're doing a free trial, it's guaranteed that you're on someone's radar and that they know how to contact you. But make sure you know how to contact them if you have any questions during the free trial.

With that done, we can start to look at how to maximize your CMMS free trial once it starts. 

Don't think just in terms of features; look for CMMS ease-of-use, too 

It's tempting to dive right into the features, but there are a few things you should check out first. 

And first on the list is the overall UX, layout, and ease-of-use. 

Open the CMMS on as many different devices as you can, including desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Compare how it looks on each screen. Is it perfect on desktop but crowded on the mobile? Does it make more sense on the tablet than it does on the computer screen on your desk in the maintenance office?

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Why does this matter? Remember that each user type mostly accesses the CMMS from one device. So when the CEO is running reports, it's from the desktop. But when techs are checking work orders and scanning bar codes, it's from the mobile maintenance app. When you're judging how well the CMMS works for any given user, make sure you're looking at the matching device. 

See how much you can figure out on your own. Just by looking at the software, where things are on the screen and how they're label, how much can you figure out?

It should be a lot. If a company designs its software properly, it should be generally self-explanatory. That doesn't mean you're going to master the software overnight. CMMS software isn't the same as game apps like Candy Crush or Tetris that you can pick up mostly with trial and error. But when a CMMS is truly easy to learn, you should be get a good basic grasp on things fairly quickly. 

Focus on the CMMS features you know you need 

A lot of maintenance management software comes with long lists of features, but you should only care about the ones you're ever going to use. It's the same as choosing a cable package. It doesn't matter how many channels you get; it matters how many you get that you want to watch. And like with cable, modern maintenance management software solutions are a subscription service. The last thing you want is to pay for a bunch of stuff you're never going to use. 

 

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This might seem like strange advice at first, but it can be helpful not to think about features at all. Instead, focus on workflows, collections of related features that work together to help you accomplish maintenance tasks. Why? Because that's how people use CMMS software. 

For example, you could focus on this common use case: 

  1. Generate a new on-demand work order
  2. Assign it to a maintenance tech
  3. Accept the work order
  4. Add some comments to the work order
  5. Close it out
  6. Review its history using KPIs and reports

Now, instead of only knowing how the features work, you have a sense of what it would be like to use the CMMS every day. 

Check for differences between the app and desktop 

This goes back to trying to get a sense of how the software works differently for different users. Also, you want to check to make sure you don't miss any of the features. 

The Hippo CMMS Mobile app is a perfect example. If you only try out the desktop version, you miss all the features on the app. 

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Why are there different features for different devices? Because the app lives right on the mobile device, it can tie itself directly to the software and hardware, creating opportunities for new features, including: 

  • Push notifications 
  • Bar code scanning 
  • Speech-to-text on word orders 
  • Offline sync 

If there are features only on the app, make sure you take some time to check them out. 

Check the CMMS providers' support, resources, and software updates, too 

Once you've had a look at the UX and ease-of-use and layout, you can look at the features and how they build into workflows. 

From there, make sure to spend some time looking at the provider's resource center. It's not strictly part of the software, but it is an important part of the overall user experience, and that's what you're trying to get a sense of during the free trial. 

The design experts at Apple are famous for their pioneering work in user experience, which they define surprisingly broadly. In fact, one of their head designers explained that user experience is all of your interactions with the product, right down to how easy it is to carry your new computer from the store to your car. So, they redesigned the boxes to make them easier to carry and more likely fit in backseats. 

Try to review any support tools, including 

  • Resources 
  • Videos 
  • Feature tutorials 

Quick summary 

Free trials are a great way to explore CMMS software and find the one that works best for you. The key to getting the most out of the trial is to come prepared. Schedule some time for yourself and your team to look over the CMMS. 

Don't focus on the features only. First, look at the overall layout and design. Remember, if it's hard to use, no one on your maintenance team is going to use it. Take some time to think of some common use cases to test. It makes more sense to think in terms of workflows than individual features. 

Don't focus on the software only. Your free trial is a chance to explore the entire user experience, including checking out some of the resources. 

Next steps 

Now that you know how to get the most from it, it's time to sign up now for you 14-day free trial with Hippo CMMS. 

About The Author

Jonathan Davis

Jonathan Davis started out writing for textbooks before branching out to video games and marketing collateral. He has a master’s degree in journalism and a certificate in technical writing.
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