When implementing new computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software, it is crucial that data from existing maintenance management systems be accurately and efficiently transferred to the new CMMS. This CMMS data transfer, whether it’s from manual records or another CMMS system, can be a complex process. But it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

Data transfer best practices exist that will ensure your CMMS implementation is a smooth process. This begins when you identify data, recognize and clean “dirty data”, import data, and learn how to build good, clean data.

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What is Clean Data?

There is a saying in the maintenance management industry: A CMMS is only as good as the data in it. As most organizations say, “garbage in, garbage out”. Data is a valuable asset, so it’s important to ensure the data is clean. Your CMMS contains any information you input into it. Clean and organized data that is prepared ahead of time makes a CMMS implementation successful. You either start out with clean data, or you’ll need to clean your data in preparation for transfer. So, what is data cleaning?

Data cleaning, or data cleansing, is the process of ensuring data is correct, consistent, and usable by identifying errors or corruptions in the data, correcting or deleting them, and manually processing errors when needed to prevent them from happening again. This data cleaning process includes five steps:

  • Removing Outdated Records
  • Adding Additional Relevant Data to Record During Transfer
  • Adding Missing Records
  • Updating Consistency of the Data (Naming Conventions and Categorization)
  • Communicating with the Team

Specific things you can do to clean data include: getting rid of extra spaces, removing all blank cells (in a spreadsheet), converting numbers stored as text into actual numbers, changing words to the correct case, performing spell check, and deleting all formatting. Critical aspects of data cleaning include ensuring that the data is valid and conforms to business rules, the data represents standard values, and that the data is complete, consistent, and uniform.

What Causes “Dirty Data”?

The opposite of clean data is, by no surprise, dirty data (or bad data). So what leads to the creation of bad data? Lack of strategy when it comes to connecting asset information management to organizational strategy can lead to incomplete, inaccurate data being entered. When organizational standards, data entry, processes, and workflows are insufficient, valuable data can end up missing from the CMMS platform. Departments need to work together to avoid duplicate data and inconsistencies. Work orders also need to be made for every asset activity to avoid missing data. Finally, using the CMMS as a “catch-all” should be avoided, as that leads to extra data being entered that is not needed.

What to Do Next with your Data

Now that you know what clean data is and how to avoid creating bad data, the next thing you should do with your data is add the most critical and commonly used data first. You might feel as though you should add all data right away, but doing so can delay implementation of your new CMMS.

Once you know what data you should add first (possibly your most crucial assets), you should keep these things in mind as you build your data.

  • Enter data in a consistent manner from the beginning.
  • Remove duplicates or useless information, or add missing records.
  • Add additional relevant data on existing records during transfer (i.e., new purchase orders from a vendor)
  • Use uniform numbering, naming conventions, and categorization.
  • Use assistance from your vendor, if needed.

Addressing Data Importation Challenges

There are a number of challenges many organizations face before and after importing CMMS data. A supportive vendor will work with you to address these challenges and overcome them so you can get the most out of your CMMS software.

One of the most common challenges is to understand terminology in data import templates and how they correlate to fields in the software. Your vendor can explain them to you. Another challenge is trying to organize data. Many people don’t have all the data they need in lists, rather, it is scattered in multiple files, databases, and documents. This creates a lot of work to get the data ready to import. Formatting is another common data importation challenge. Data can exceed the allowed character limit or have characters that aren’t supported, so the data needs to be reformatted before implementation.

After data importation is complete, relationships need to be created between different pieces of data. People often struggle to use this newly imported data to build their preventive maintenance schedule. They get a feeling of “now what?” Even though the amount of work can be significant, once they learn what to do, the next steps are fairly easy

Building Good Data

Transferring Data from One CMMS to Another vs. Manual Records to CMMS

Keep in mind how different data conversion from one CMMS to another is from data importation from manual records to a new CMMS. When transferring data from one CMMS to another, it is likely already formatted the way it needs to be for importation, and digital data can be copied and pasted or exported, making it faster and easier to get the data into the new system. With manual records, you’ll need to type out the data in the correct format and likely use a step in the middle such as creating a spreadsheet.

Questions to Ask

When you are building good data, there are several questions you should ask to help you along the way:

  • How many records does your organization have that are still valid? Conversely, can you remove any that refer to obsolete parts, sold assets, suppliers you no longer work with, etc.
  • How many records are still valid, but are now inaccurate? (Example: you need to update a supplier’s address.)
  • How many records are complete? Can you complete any that are incomplete?
  • Do records contain enough detail?
  • Are any records missing?
  • How much time will the data transfer take and how much will it cost?
  • Do you need to get the IT department involved?
  • Who will complete data entry? Current or temporary employees?

Once you have answered all of these questions, go through your data and validate it. Have several people look at it to determine if it is accurate and “clean”. Be sure to redefine data fields according to what the new CMMS has. Many CMMS systems have an import wizard tool to make this step easier.

Put Clean Data into FTMaintenance

FTMaintenance makes it easy for you to add clean, well-formatted data. We offer several data import templates for different types of data, including Labor, Vendors, Inventory, and Task Lists. Once you have filled out these templates, you can use the Data Import Utility to get the data into the software. Our team of experts can work with you to help with the data importation or transfer process. When needed, we can put your data into our CMMS database so that you don’t have to do this yourself. Contact us to learn more about importing data into FTMaintenance, or schedule a demo to see an example of clean data in use.