CMMS can’t change the maintenance culture

CMMS is an answer to a prayer. Finally every piece of equipment, every spare part, every outside maintenance contractor, invoice, leasing agreement…essentially any maintenance-related document finally has a home in CMMS.


By the time the maintenance department cries uncle from repairing too many machines without a management system in place, CMMS is an answer to a prayer. Finally every piece of equipment, every spare part, every outside maintenance contractor, invoice, leasing agreement…essentially any maintenance-related document finally has a home in CMMS.

Now, instead of dropping everything to fix a malfunctioning machine, a mechanic can calmly turn to his CMMS system, look up the machine, see any pertinent history, generate a work order, make the repairs, enter time and materials, and close the work order. Later on, if that same machine breaks down, not only does he have a record of previous repairs, but he can analyze how often repairs are warranted and whether it’s worth fixing again or buying a new one.

At last CMMS saves the day!

But don’t pop the cork just yet. The organization’s old maintenance “habits” may shorten the CMMS honeymoon. CMMS can automate and manage a whole host of maintenance functions based on equipment data that’s been entered into the system. What it can’t do is change the maintenance culture. That’s up to the plant manager and the team.

Below is a list of the most common gripes about automating maintenance and my recommended “cultural adjustments.” This comes from years of helping customers convert resistors to the new CMMS culture:

I don’t have time to do data entry and generate work orders; the machine needs to be fixed right now or we lose production time.

Culture adjustment: Help your technicians understand that the investment they make in using CMMS will give them much more wrench time and greater reliability in the long run. CMMS will end the firefighting.

My maintenance people cannot be trusted to enter data correctly on work orders, which will compromise the whole CMMS effort.

Culture adjustment: CMMS will make sure that only appropriate staff can enter information in appropriate parts of the system. It may also make sense to appoint a designated CMMS administrator to manage the whole repair process. In the meantime, have IT limit usage to user-authorized CMMS access.

We had a maintenance system before that was so cumbersome no one wanted to use it and it collected dust on a shelf.

Culture adjustment: Unfortunately, since maintenance is viewed by corporate as a cost center, plant managers try to save money by using a combination of spreadsheets and brute force just to get control of repairs. If you decide to take the CMMS plunge, involve your whole team in the project, and set goals and objectives together. Forcing CMMS often fails. Also consider some initial training and possibly implementation consulting.

CMMS cannot conform to how we do our maintenance.

Culture adjustment: You might need to make minor adjustments to your operations, but a decent CMMS system should adhere to your practices and procedures—not the other way around. Find a CMMS—and a sales rep who can show you how the product can adapt to your operations.

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