CMMS implementation: four best practices

Getting management on board one key to success
By Taylor Short February 29, 2016

The implementation of any kind of software can be a major undertaking, and deploying a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can include additional effort to enter every asset and all historical data. However, today’s systems and the vendors that provide them help facilitate this process with cloud deployments, implementation assistance, and self-help knowledge centers.

For first-time buyers or those looking to switch to a newer system, there are four basic steps that can help make implementation smoother so you can get back to work with the benefits of a CMMS.

1. Justify value to get higher-ups on board

Getting buy-in from the entire maintenance department and executives, and developing a clear goal for the software helps to ensure that each person using the system will follow established standards for entering data or information about assets. Here are some reasons you could use to drive home the potential impact of a new CMMS:

  • Switching from manual methods saves time. According to the data we gather when speaking to CMMS buyers who call Software Advice, 48% use manual methods, such as spreadsheets or paper tickets, to manage maintenance tasks. Using a CMMS to create and assign work orders minimizes human error, and preventive maintenance scheduling notifies workers when tasks are due, reducing costly machine downtime.
  • Adopting a cloud-based model saves money. Any data stored in the system is secured in servers managed by the vendor and are accessible from any Web-enabled device. Additionally, these systems rarely require a significant upfront cost and instead are billed monthly, making them affordable for even small companies.
  • Using mobile tools speeds performance. Finally, the overall benefits of using a CMMS are compelling-maintenance managers can see exactly how assets are performing, can assign new work orders instantly, and, with mobile apps, can perform nearly any function from any location. One of the most useful benefits is using historical maintenance data to identify trends to make more informed business decisions.

2. Enter critical and commonly used assets first

When deciding what information to put into the CMMS, you may want to add literally everything under the company roof. When thinking about a CMMS as a repository for maintenance data, however, you’re more likely to bog down the system with unnecessary data by adding everything. Start with:

  • The most critical assets. Meaning the machines, such as conveyors, boilers, or motors, that keep operations moving. When these fail, the company starts losing profits, so getting them entered into the system first is best. That way, if one were to break down during the data-entry process, you’ll already have it in the system and can assign a worker to fix it quickly. 
  • The most common assets. You may have two boilers in your plant, but dozens of motors that power various machines. A failure of these motors could shut down the entire operation, so adding them right away is a good idea.

3. Clean data and develop a naming convention for assets

A CMMS is only as good as the data that’s in it, so it’s best to enter data in a consistent manner from the beginning. Often, companies need to transfer data from an older system to the new one, and some software vendors offer data-scrubbing services. But there are a couple of ways to ensure data quality yourself:

  • Remove duplicate entries. Simply put, make sure duplicate information is removed to avoid mucking up the new system.
  • Remove useless information. There could be data or preventive maintenance tasks from the old system that don’t actually address an asset failure. Remove them.
  • Use a uniform naming convention. Part of the efficiency of a CMMS is the ability to retrieve asset information with a quick search. That can only happen if assets are named in a uniform, logical fashion.

4. Use vendor resources

Finally, vendors offer implementation services, self-help knowledge bases, support videos, as well as online and in-person courses to train maintenance teams on how to operate the software in the most effective way. Training can help users get the most value out of a system and teach them to use more advanced features, such as reporting.

Taylor Short is a market-research associate at Software Advice.