Scalability: 4 tips for a successful multi-site enterprise CMMS

Maintaining equipment and facilities across multiple sites can be demanding, but with the right software strategy maintenance professionals can do so by planning ahead, tracking, and keeping simplifying processes.


Just as parents have a tougher time managing quintuplets in comparison to only one child, so too do maintenance professionals face greater challenges when they are responsible for more than one location.  And that means they need a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) with enough muscle to handle multiple sites and far-flung equipment.

Although a best-of-breed CMMS should retain its value no matter the size of an enterprise, it’s also true that maintaining equipment and facilities across multiple sites demands capabilities that are somewhat different from those needed in programs used for a single location.

While the term "scalability" can be over used in the software world, it is nevertheless critical to evaluate an enterprise CMMS in terms of its ability to scale and grow with the needs of the company. But what does "scalability" really mean in practical terms? And what other factors determine success when using a CMMS across multiple sites?

Here are four observations and answers to those questions:

1. Keep on tracking: The ability to track the history of preventive maintenance (PM) and other repairs on equipment is a key advantage of a CMMS because it enables maintenance teams to identify trouble spots, root out the cause of problems, replace frequent fliers, and stock essential parts. Therefore, this tracking capability must be easily transferable to multiple sites when using a CMMS throughout a business organization or enterprise.

2. Drag and drop it: Inputting specifications and detailed information on equipment and facilities is an important step in the process of implementing a CMMS solution. An enterprise CMMS should enable users to “clone” information from assets and “drag and drop” it from one site to another while transferring maintenance history and without having to go through the process of re-entering data for each new location.

3. Plan ahead: Taking time to sit down and look ahead to implementing a CMMS in several sites can be invaluable. Effective maintenance managers think through tasks—such as creating names for assets and labels for other data—so information remains uniform throughout all sites, making it much easier to access.

4. Stay simple: If an enterprise CMMS requires too many steps to input a work order or call up repair information, it may not be the best choice. Having a system that is easy to set up and use becomes even more important when a variety of staffers will need to access the CMMS in more than one location. Remember no system will help the maintenance team perform better or produce a return on investment if it’s too difficult for the end user.

While a CMMS may have all the features needed by maintenance professionals, managers can still face roadblocks when it comes to integrating their system with the requirements of programs used by the organization at large. The best way to overcome that barrier is to establish basic criteria for implementing a CMMS. Define what the maintenance team needs to meet their challenges. Then use that information to identify and invest in the CMMS that will best fit the company’s needs, regardless of how large or small it may be.

Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group, which produces Bigfoot CMMS.

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