It’s probably safe to assume that if you’ve found this article, you are more than likely thinking about an alternative to your current maintenance management approach. Fortunately, you are in good company because there is a growing number of businesses of all sizes and across all industry sectors that are also looking to find more efficient ways of managing their operations and in turn, improving their bottom line. Increased marketplace competition, economic demands and technological changes are the primary motivators in making a change. Company owners are also realizing that their traditional pencil and paper approaches to tracking business operations are limited in being able to meet current demands. The solution for a growing number of companies is Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software.
What is a CMMS?
For those unfamiliar with maintenance management systems, CMMS software is highly sophisticated and utilizes thousands of data points which at any given time, can provide a user an overview of a facility’s operation or alternatively, the status of an individual piece of equipment. They are 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.
The CMMS software industry strives to remain on top of technology and industry changes by continually evolving and being more responsive to the ever-changing needs of their customers. Recent innovations in maintenance management software include secure cloud based interfaces, mobile device accessibility and paperless functionality that further increases ease of use. Of all its capabilities, preventive maintenance is the one function that holds the greatest appeal to most companies because it is fully automated and no longer relies upon maintenance managers to schedule ongoing maintenance checks. Used as it is designed, CMMS software offers companies an opportunity for greater efficiency and productivity with an excellent return on investment (ROI) and an increased bottom line.
For those who have begun to explore the world of automated facility management using facility management software, the task may seem a bit daunting; not just because of the number of vendors out there, but also because of the different options and formats available for potential buyers. As you may have already found out, there is much written on selecting the right CMMS software system for your business. Here I hope to simply the process by consolidating into three easy steps much of the information that is out there. This will help streamline how to approach your search and then guide you in making informed decisions.
Determine CMMS feature requirements
An important starting point in selecting a CMMS Software is being clear on what you need in a maintenance management software and how you plan to utilize it. To make this determination, it is best to gather a team of maintenance staff to discuss the challenges associated with the maintenance approach currently in place and what is needed to overcome them. For example, some businesses struggle with managing work orders. In these cases, having an automated CMMS software system that makes it possible to access the system using mobile devices will be of benefit. For business that are a fast-growing, it is important to select a system that will accommodate a company’s growth potential by responding to increasing and changing business needs. Finally, consider your company’s resources and capabilities. This is especially important when choosing between cloud based and on site CMMS software formats. If your company does not have an in-house tech person who can maintain the system, it would be best to select a user friendly and maintenance free cloud based system. Because the success of CMMS software depends on appropriate and regular use, selecting a system that is easy to use will motivate maintenance staff in adopting it. To make sure that the solution you choose will be a good fit for your business, create a list of features you are looking for based on your needs and capabilities.
Determine what you are prepared to spend
Purchasing a CMMS software system is a huge investment in terms of time, money and resources. 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. While on site CMMS software formats come with an upfront higher price tag, the cloud based formats require yearly subscription fees. Since time is money, factor in the cost of implementing the CMMS software in house versus having the vendor conduct an audit. Carefully weigh the overall cost of the CMMS software including the cost of in-house tech support for onsite systems and any other add-on option costs for all system format types and packages.
Consider future needs and expansion
Because making the shift to a CMMS is intended to be a long-term commitment, considering what lies ahead is vital. Just as changes in the industry, technology and the economic climate have motivated business owners to replace their spreadsheet based operations management with automated CMMS software, looking toward the future in terms of company growth potential and change is important when making your choice in a system. Although it is impossible to predict the future, a company’s growth history as well as industry trends can offer a hint into what might be expected. The key issues are customizability and expansion potential. Having a CMMS software system that is robust and reflexive means that it can accommodate change when and if it happens.
The decision to purchase a CMMS is a big one and should not be taken lightly. Take your time and do your research. Talk to several vendors and ask questions. Make sure that your company’s needs, capabilities and budget match the product you are considering.