Why CMMS implementations fail

Organizations that falter during their implementation project may end up falling short in their attempts to switch to effective strategies and spend the next few months scrambling to fix their mistakes.


When a new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) implementation is successful, productivity improvements can be swift and noticeable. But what happens when an organization fails to align the new software with its objectives or business processes?

A disappointing or failed CMMS implementation represents a lack of progress that still is being paid for. An organization has to open its coffers even further, spending additional time and consulting resources working on re-configuring the CMMS while suffering through the existing setup. Even more painful is the prospect of having to undergo yet another CMMS search, procurement and installation process. These downsides underline the importance of getting implementation right.

All objectives aligned

Typically, kicking off a CMMS implementation begins with a plan of attack-or it should. If an organization doesn't have strong short- and long-term objectives, it will be hard to tell whether the new system has succeeded or even to define success. An implementation without goals could lead to something even more frustrating than a clear-cut failure, in that leaders may not have any way of knowing whether they've just spent money on a worthwhile system or not.

As for who should have a voice in these goals, it pays to involve all levels of the company and every relevant department. A CMMS implementation spearheaded by one group or a single leader may overlook some of the unique forces facing the rest of the organization as well as the extent of the capabilities of the system. For example, an IT-led implementation process may neglect the safety component of a CMMS, leaving out a host of benefits that can positively impact safety and compliance.

Configuring a CMMS to a company's needs can revolutionize that organization's efficiency, but only if the needs are accurate and reflect the real situation within the facility. If the goal is to have a CapEx approval process pass through 10 layers of management and the current process involves only one person, it may not make sense to try to tackle this within the first phase of a new implementation.

A lack of training at all employee levels also could doom an implementation to failure. In an ideal scenario, CMMS dashboards will be available to everyone from the manager of the facility to the maintenance techs who perform day-to-day work on the assets tracked using the software. A failure to teach any of these workers how the new system works, or why it's an improvement, could cause them to stick with outdated manual reporting or communication methods and undermine the purpose of a CMMS-to centralize maintenance for overall greater productivity and profitability.

Worth getting right

The planning stages of a CMMS deployment are crunch time for the project. If the implementation fails, it's back to the drawing board for the organization, with time and money wasted. This is why providers offer consulting services and why maintenance managers should make the best use of these services. Optimization of CMMS consulting time is even more critical when the implementation is complex, for instance, creating a deployment that will track data across multiple sites with various language and localization requirements.

The powerful methodologies that have become maintenance staples in recent years-preventive and especially predictive maintenance among them-are made possible through modern CMMS. Organizations that falter during their implementation project may end up falling short in their attempts to switch to effective strategies and spend the next few months scrambling to fix their mistakes. Therefore, it's far better to get it right the first time. 

- This article originally appeared on Smartware Group's blog. Smartware Group is a CFE Media content partner.

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