Find the Right CMMS: What You Need Before Investing

It might be the fourth time you had to shut down production from a machine failure. Maybe your company wasted a lot of time waiting for a vital part to arrive. You could be feeling pressure from above to reduce the amount of overtime logged.

Whatever the reason, you’re now in the market for a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Find the Right CMMS

Although you have a wide selection of CMMS solutions to choose from, it doesn’t mean every CMMS is the right fit for your company. You’ll have to put in more effort than skimming through online reviews to make sure your CMMS project doesn’t fall into the 40% to 80% that don’t meet expectations.

We’ve compiled the steps you need to find the right CMMS solution.

The Pre-Selection Process

Often, a CMMS project failure can be linked back to the selection process. Vendors may try to dazzle you with features and benefits to sway your decision. But if you let the vendors choose for you, you’re more than likely to fall into one of the common trouble spots:

  • Incompatibility with current applications.
  • No flexibility to evolve with business needs.
  • Modifications/customizations are unavailable or out of budget.
  • No support for desired mobile technology.
  • Data not accessible in the format needed.

To start on the right foot, your company will have to do some internal research. There are two approaches for this pre-selection process: Conduct the company research yourself or hire a consultant.

As CMMSCity says in its article, How to Avoid Becoming Another CMMS Implementation Failure Statistic, hiring an outside consultant can be extremely beneficial since consultants are experts in the decision-making process and know how to “avoid the common pitfalls that tend to derail some implementations.”

When using an outside consultant, don’t rely too heavily on its resources. Many times a company will find that it doesn’t understand how to operate the software once the implementation is done, which impacts the solution’s adoption.

CMMSCity suggests that “one-off activities, such as data migrations, should clearly be left to external resources. Activities requiring continual monitoring and tuning, such as configuration, should be owned by an internal implementation team with support from the external resources.”

If your company is capable of handling the planning and research process itself, the following is a checklist you need to complete before finding potential vendors:

Get senior management buy-in. Doing this at the start will ensure that proper funding and adequate resources are in place for the implementation project. Having senior management on your side will also help when handling office politics or negative pushback surrounding the CMMS adoption.

Determine your current business process flow (BPF). If you don’t have a written BPF, start by organizing the process flows of all departments in your company into a flow chart. Have each department review it to double check accuracy. Once the BPF has been approved, your CMMS project team can use it as a foundation.

Create a CMMS project team. The project team should have a representative from each of the departments that will be impacted by the solution. This is especially important in unionized companies. The team typically includes a plant engineer, a maintenance engineer, some maintenance employees/technicians, and representatives from management information systems (MIS), IT, purchasing and accounting.

Determine project objectives. To get a good understanding of why the CMMS solution is needed, get input from all departments that will work with the new software. This will typically be a large list of pain points. Once finished, use the list to outline the scope, goals and objectives of the new solution.

Develop a list of specifications. When the outline is finished, make a list of features wanted in the CMMS. Then separate the features into three categories: mandatory, needed and desired. Be sure to think of long-term company plans when doing this. Something that’s currently “desired” could become “mandatory” down the road.

Identify hardware alternatives. Ideally, the CMMS selected will be compatible with all the company’s current hardware and applications. However, this usually isn’t the case. Consult your MIS group to resolve any compatibility issues.

Vendor Selection

Once you’re done with the pre-selection process, you should be able to identify what you need out of a solution. With hundreds of vendors to choose from, having this pre-made list of requirements will make the searching and screening process less daunting.

EC&M, a reputable resource for construction, operations and maintenance advice, identified three steps to narrow down your vendor selection:

1. Initial Search: Create a list of vendors that look like they’ll meet your requirements. It’s recommended to have no more than 12.

2. Preliminary Screening: Take your list of vendors, and create a document containing the vendor’s name, the solution available and the compatible hardware your company has. Review the details of each solution to determine how many “mandatory” features are offered. Finally, eliminate the solutions that don’t meet a majority of your “mandatory” needs. This should narrow your search to three or four candidates.

3. Selection: When reviewing the remaining vendors, keep the following criteria in mind:

  • System features – The solution should be flexible enough to grow with your company. A CMMS is a large investment. You shouldn’t have to find a new solution when your needs evolve.
  • Ease of use – The solution should be easy to learn and use. If there is a huge learning curve, there’s more of a chance the solution won’t be adopted by end users. Consider packages that include training and support.
  • Vendor profile – What are the vendor’s qualifications? Is it experienced? Does it have financial strength? Make sure to request system demos and client references. Ask for current customers who have similar needs to your company. Doing this will give you an accurate idea of what to expect from the vendor.
  • Vendor support – Does the vendor have a support team available by phone? Or is its support system a list of FAQs on a webpage? When selecting a vendor, be sure to consider the vendor’s support, upgrade policy and total cost of ownership.

CMMS isn’t a small investment, so you don’t want to end up with a tool that doesn’t meet your expectations. Taking the time to clearly define the objectives and requirements will put your company on the path for CMMS success from the start.

Compare Top CMMS Vendors

Choosing a CMMS vendor is all about finding the right fit. Use our 2016 Vendor Comparison Guide to get an objective look at the top solutions.Download Now

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