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8 warning signs your CMMS vendor is neglecting their software

March 08, 2012

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By the Marshall Institute


Photo courtesy: Marshall InstituteYour organization thrives by adapting to industry changes. Why shouldn’t that be true of your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)?

Sometimes it’s obvious your CMMS software is no longer receiving support. Maybe your vendor is openly redirecting their focus — or maybe they're closing up shop altogether. Other times, software neglect is hidden. Your CMMS vendor is still in business and their phone number remains in service. But support is half-hearted. Rollouts of new software have trickled to a stop, or you constantly finding yourself playing phone tag. And nobody wins when you play phone tag.

Here are 8 other ways to identify that your CMMS Vendor isn’t stepping up to the plate with adequate software support.

1) Does your CMMS vendor have another release in the pipeline?

There’s no getting around it: a good CMMS implementation starts with good software. And good software is software that’s perpetually getting better—adapting to new technology, optimizing processes, and improving the end-user experience. If your CMMS Vendor isn’t working on a new release, it isn’t because they’re content with the status quo. It's because they’re lacking appropriate development support.

2) Does your CMMS support mobile technology?

A good CMMS vendor recognizes that “mobile” isn’t just a city in Alabama. Even if your organization is not considering implementation of a mobile solution, chances are good that a vendors who doesn't support mobile technology is lagging behind in other ways. Perhaps they have an abacus or two lying around their offices.

3) Does your CMMS vendor have a static website?

Your CMMS vendor’s website should not have a complete facelift every time you refresh the page. But does it offer a regularly-updated blog? Is there a newsletter? Is there a current news sections? Websites are often the first point of contact for both current and existing customers. If a company’s online presence is stagnant, chances are the company is, too.

4) Can your CMMS communicate with other software?

A “siloed” CMMS is one that exists in its own universe, antisocially unwilling to speak with other software. Not only is this problematic on its own — it’s a pretty good bellwether that your CMMS vendor is not interested in tailoring its product to the constantly-shifting software landscape. A good CMMS solution should have functionally to connect with Microsoft Active Directory (to avoid creating separate username/logins), have the ability to plug into an email client like Microsoft Outlook, and be capable of tieing-in with your facility management software.

5) Does your vendor embrace barcode technology?

Barcodes aren’t just for grocery stores anymore. You’re probably starting to see them everywhere: on posters, in books – and, yes, even on maintenance equipment. The latest and greatest CMMS vendors have adapted to this technology by offering optional tagging ad-ons, such as MicroMain’s InfoTag. Technicians can scan tags with a smartphone or other mobile device to get immediate access to asset maintenance histories, model and serial numbers, warranty information, and more.

6) Is your vendor there for support?

Like a good friend, your CMMS Vendor should be there when you need it. Even after your software is implemented, there may be times you need assistance. If your database is hosted externally with your vendor, for example, you might need to contact them to resolve a server issue. Can you get a hold of support? Is there email response time lag? Does your vendor provide live chat on their website? Does your vendor offer service packages for existing customers? Or, on the contrary, does your vendor seem to keep its existing customers at arm’s length?

7) Does your CMMS have web request functionality?

In industries such as property management, having 24/7 web request capabilities can be downright essential. Web requests reduce incoming call and emails, while dramatically improving customer satisfaction. Still, many CMMS vendors turn a cold shoulder to web functionality. Are these vendors making other glaring oversights?

8) Is your CMMS capable of adaptation?

Your CMMS wasn’t designed specifically for your organization – but it should feel like it was. One of the biggest signs of an under-supported CMMS is the software’s inability to adapt to your changing sets of needs. Invariably, your organization will grow and evolve – and your CMMS needs to be flexible enough to keep pace. For example, the growth of your organization may lead to new levels of regulatory compliance. Rigid, uncompromising CMMS solutions often rely on work-arounds to achieve this newly-desired functionality. When a CMMS is receiving adequate support, these key changes are far easier to implement.

Identifying a stagnant CMMS is the first step to solving a potential problem. When your CMMS solution isn’t keeping up with the industry, it can lead to far-reaching problems down the road. Replacing and updating your system is a cathartic exercise, a great time to institute company-wide improvements in work order and preventive maintenance (PM) processes. And once you’ve acquired a well-support CMMS, your organization has the invaluable peace of mind to know that if a problem comes up, you have a helping hand to depend on.


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