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A Guide to Selecting the Right CMMS

As the size of your company grows, adding additional employees and the expense of investing in assets and equipment to keep your company operating is now more challenging. Along with the growth of your company and organization come additional responsibilities of managing all of your assets, resources and keeping everything running at peak performance.

In order to keep up with your competitors and your growing maintenance tasks, you are now at a point where you need to assess the efficiency of your current maintenance operations. Gone are the days of trying to manage your facility using multiple spreadsheets, trying to merge all of the information, extract duplicate data, and validate that the information is current. Trying to keep and manage checklists and tasks using paper and pencil has now become more of a struggle in this technology driven world.

Where do you begin the task of evaluating and finding the right solution to automate and simplify your maintenance operations, and is it within your budget? With all of the maintenance software available in the market today, what will work best for you? There are so many options and things to consider.

To help you make the right decision this guide will give you an understating of what maintenance management is and provide you with some of the most important things to consider in helping you during your selection process.

What Is Maintenance Management?
Maintenance management is the process and procedure for maintaining a company’s assets, equipment, and resources. The purpose of maintenance management is to ensure that production proceeds efficiently and resources are used effectively. The overall business objective is to more efficiently schedule work, manage costs, prolong the lifespan of assets, and ensure that processes are followed to comply with all regulations.

How Can Maintenance Management Help Your Business?
All businesses, throughout all industries, need to maintain assets, reduce equipment downtime, increase productivity, reduce costs, and work more efficiently. Implementing computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software can help:

Streamline company processes and protect assets.
Minimize the risk of machines breaking down.
Control expenses due to better management of parts inventory.
Maximize asset lifespan due to proper maintenance.
Help keep equipment running at peak performance.
Less disruption to production, work environments, etc.
Increase the safety of employees due to the proper maintenance of equipment.
Maintenance management software, such as CMMS, centralizes the storage of information to help organizations be more prepared for inspections and audits.

What Are the Types of Maintenance Management?

Reactive maintenance, also known as the run-to-failure strategy, is performed when assets are deliberately operated until they break down.
Preventive maintenance is regularly scheduled inspections and maintenance done to help minimize the possibility of unexpected failures of equipment and reduce repair costs.
Predictive maintenance is a condition-based approach that monitors the condition of assets using sensor devices and provides warnings to maintenance managers when an equipment failure might occur.
Condition-based maintenance is a condition-based approach that monitors the condition of assets and relies only on real-time sensor measurements. Once a parameter reaches an unacceptable level, maintenance workers are dispatched. This means that condition-based maintenance systems perform work only at the time it is needed.
Reliability centered maintenance is a method of analyzing breakdowns to identify which maintenance methods will work best for each piece of machinery.

Why Is Maintenance Management Important?
Without maintenance management, there can be significant delays in products and services, disruption to business operations, and an increase in expenses. Maintenance management helps companies organize and manage time and costs, to ensure the efficiency of processes and procedures while maintaining resources and controlling costs.

What Is the Best Maintenance Management Solution?
Moving from spreadsheets, paper and pencils is a big step. Adopting computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software is the first step towards streamlining and making maintenance operations at your facility cheaper, more effective, and more efficient.

How To Choose the Right CMMS
Doing your homework upfront will save you a lot of time, money, aggravation to ensure that you will have a system that will meet your current needs and your future needs and expectations.

Identify Your Goals and Objectives
The first step in choosing a CMMS that will fit your needs and budget is to assess your internal processes so that you can establish your goals and objectives. Talk with your maintenance team who are actually engaged with all of the everyday tasks and emergencies.

Is CMMS Good for Any Business Size?
Companies come in all sizes, and CMMS can accommodate any size company within any industry. From the company looking for a more simplified CMMS solution that is not packed with a lot of unnecessary features, to the mid and large size companies who need a more robust system. CMMS software is flexible, and vendors have numerous packages that can meet the needs of any size company. The tips below will help you in your search, but the most critical thing to remember is that if you’re a growing company, you don’t want to invest in software that is not scalable, and you will outgrow it quickly.

Assessing Your Current Maintenance Operations
A good starting point would be to identify and gather information on what you have today.

Review documents that describe the processes that you want to automate.
If documents do not exist, have your maintenance team write down the tasks that they do on a daily basis.
Identify and create a list of all of your assets that need to be included in your maintenance planning.

Basic Questions in Defining Your Goals and Objectives:

Do you want to manage and track all of your work orders from a computer or mobile device?
How quickly are your current maintenance issues being resolved?
Are you managing your employee resources to their full potential?
Do you want to manage and track all of your assets?
Do you want to be able to analyze data to determine when it is time to retire an asset?
How is preventive maintenance currently being scheduled?
Is managing your parts inventory, including being notified when inventory levels fall below the threshold, important to you?
Is predictive maintenance part of your maintenance strategy?
Are you interested in fleet management?
What is the biggest challenge that your maintenance team has?
Are there specific reports that you need to generate?
What maintenance KPIs or goals are you concerned about achieving?
Does your operation have multiple sites and how do you manage and share data today across all of your sites?
What is your maintenance team’s daily workload?
How do you currently manage maintenance emergencies?
What safety and health regulations does your company need to comply with?

The best maintenance software for your company will be able to address all of these questions and more.

What Maintenance Features Are Important to Your Business?
Now is the time to meet with your team and do an assessment on what features you need today, what features you anticipate you will be using in the future, and what features would be nice to have but not necessary at this time. Work with your maintenance team and put a list together, so when you talk with a vendor you can come up with a CMMS software solution that fits within your budget and addresses all of your current and future needs.

You need to think long range, the maintenance software you choose today will be with your organization for many years to come.

What Is Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) Software?
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is a software package that is the most effective tool to manage maintenance operations, resources, equipment, and compliance all in one centralized system.

How Do I Choose the Right CMMS Software?
There are a lot of different things that impact the CMMS you choose, from your objectives to the cost of the software, the features it has, vendor support and training.

To help you out in making your selection, let’s evaluate some of the options.

Note:  Not all vendors offer the same features and pricing structures, so you need to make sure that you identify what you are looking for and ask the appropriate questions.

Are You Looking for a Cloud-Based or Premise-Based Solution?
Cloud-based CMMS software is hosted on the vendor’s servers so there are no costs relating to server hardware and maintenance, operating system licensing, network configuration, security, information technology (IT) support, upgrades, and the vendor fixes any bugs. With this solution you are always using the most current version of the software, it is quick to implement and affordable.

Premise-based software needs to be installed on a computer or network. Your company is responsible for the data security, storage, upgrades, and backups. You will also need to purchase and install software, license, hardware, upgrades, the configuration of servers, resources to manage the servers, which will need to be on-site. There are limited mobile capabilities and this solution has higher up-front costs than a cloud-based solution.

Below are some important features that most businesses usually start with. This is just a starting point: vendors offer different tier packages. Each CMMS pricing tier comes with additional features. Make sure the features you’re evaluating are available in the tier that fits within your budget.

Work Order Management is a formal request for maintenance, repair, or tasks that need to be done and outlines the processes and procedures for completing those tasks.
Work Order History is the capturing of information from the work done in the past.
Service Request (also referred to as a Work Request) is a request for a maintenance task that is submitted by a non-maintenance staff member or customer. When a service request is approved by the maintenance team, they will assign a technician and schedule the task and a work order is created.
Asset Management is the ability to easily see and manage all asset and equipment information in one centralized location. Everything from purchase to retirement –repair history and cost, to hierarchy, parts consumption, and more.
Preventive Maintenance (PM) Scheduling is the regular or routine maintenance of equipment and assets to keep them running at peak performance and prevent any costly unplanned downtime from unexpected equipment failure.
Checklists are formal forms with a list of written tasks or procedures that a technician must follow to ensure that proper procedures have been completed before a work order is closed out.
Resource Management or Time Tracking is a critical component of a CMMS. It factors into labor availability, reporting, costs on work orders, etc. Labor costs are only one factor that contributes a big part of running a business. Work orders in a CMMS captures critical information about a whole range of variables beyond labor hours: asset identity and location, repair parts consumed, type of work performed, skill sets employed, service and part vendors involved, and much more.

Some Advanced Features Include:

Mobile Maintenance gives maintenance teams the flexibility of having access to all of their CMMS information on assets, work orders, PMs, etc., from anywhere at any time.
Spare Parts Inventory Management gives maintenance teams the ability to keep track of parts, ensuring their availability and manage costs.
Meter Based Maintenance is maintenance that is performed as a result of a meter reading trigger.
Reports are easily generated with a Computerized Maintenance Management System. With the option of selecting from hundreds of reports to custom reports, generating real-time accurate reports keeps you well informed about the performance of your maintenance organization.
Dashboards give users the ability to display key performance indicators (KPIs) on a reporting dashboard to visualize maintenance operations’ overall performance.

Some Enterprise Features Include:

GIS Asset Mapping: Geographic Information System (GIS) technology and Enhanced Interactive Image Mapping gives users a visual look at where assets are located and further enhances the accuracy in tracking and mapping of assets and work orders.
Applications Programming Interface (API) provides interoperability between internal apps and other data exchange tools are increasingly turning to application programming interfaces (APIs) to manage the flow of information between systems.
Signature Capture allows users to set up different types of electronic signoffs.
Single Sign-on is a session and user authentication service that permits a user to use one set of login credentials, Users can log into their computer once in the morning and they have immediate access to all of their information throughout the day.

Choosing the Right CMMS Vendor

Company’s Experience

Your CMMS is going to be with you for a long time. Choosing a well-established company is an indication that they have continually offered quality products, services, and support to their customers and will do so in the future.

Company’s Product Evolution and Flexibility

When evaluating a vendor, it is important to find a company that continually engages in the development of their software to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Company’s Ability to Provide System Integration

It is important for your CMMS vendor to provide a way to interface with third-party applications already used in your organization. Having the ability to actually communicate with your CMMS software and eliminate the need for manual data entry between the two applications can save a lot of time and money.

Customer Implementation

Implementing a new CMMS is a big undertaking and using an experienced vendor can make it less of a challenge. From converting data to a new system, staff training, and customer support, these are all important to you to effectively use the new system. Finding a company with reputable implementation experience will make your transition much simpler and easier.

Customer Support

The key to your success is to invest in a vendor who has a reputation for quality customer support. Be sure to ask questions about their customer support including support hours, customer satisfaction ratings, is there a cost, and access how the vendor compares to other vendors you may be considering.

Important! Cybersecurity – Choosing the Right Vendor
Cybersecurity has now become a daily word in every industry. With ransomware attacks maintenance and reliability teams at throughout all facilities, government organizations, and manufacturers all need to assess their level of cyber risk and improve their cyber preventive maintenance actions.

A vendor with a poor cybersecurity score can open the doors to security breaches and bring your business to a halt.

Vendors say they have a secure network, but do they really? Today, there are companies that specialize in analyzing vendor networks to ensure that their data is secure. These vendors provide “Security Scorecards” rating them on their security in various categories. This would be a good time to choose a vendor that has a 100% rating. When evaluating a vendor ask them what their rating is and to share their cybersecurity scorecard with you.

Evaluating the Costs of a CMMS
To start, it is a good idea to get an understanding of what your budget is, and the minimum features are that you want to start using right away.

Free CMMS versions do exist, but most of these come with very limited features and restrictions for using the software. This version might work for smaller companies who do not anticipate a lot of work orders, asset management or company growth.
Most CMMS software solutions are subscription-based and are based on the number of users. It is important to have an estimate of how many people will be using the system and the anticipation of future growth.
Make sure that you get an understanding of any costs associated with setup, support, training, upgrades, integrations, equipment or hardware, mobile devices, and the implementation process and time. Some CMMS vendors include support and most of these features in the subscription costs. Some vendors do not include these features and can be an added expense to your budget. It is always good to get these details ironed out ahead of time.
When choosing a vendor, clarify what each vendor includes in their software cost.

In the long run, this is not the time to pinch pennies; this system will be with you for a long time, and choosing wisely now is the key to optimizing your maintenance operations at an affordable price.

The guidelines above provide you with some tips to make choosing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software solution that will help meet your goals and objectives.

The process begins with you and ensuring that your current core internal processes are well defined and documented.

Having a good understanding of your maintenance operations goals and objectives and your needs to organize and automate your maintenance process is important. Maintaining your assets, minimizing downtime, keeping track of assets, and identifying key metrics for data tracking and analysis, will pave the way in finding the best maintenance software for your business.

Managing your maintenance operations and choosing a maintenance vendor is a huge task. Besides keeping your business and assets running at peak performance, you now have new regulations and guidelines that you must adhere to. Things are moving quickly, and your facilities and maintenance operations need to keep up with the fast pace and growing demands. Having a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) helps organize and streamline all of your processes, assuring you that things are being properly maintained and you can concentrate on other business issues.

Jeff Roscher is Co-Founder and President of eWorkOrders (Information Professionals, Inc). eWorkOrders is an industry leader in computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software. Jeff can be reached at jeff@eWorkOrders.com.

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