Metal cogwheels representing the moving parts that must interconnect for a successful CMMS implementation

Implementing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is more likely to be a success when using a systematic approach. However, the urgency of putting a system in place now often forces buyers to take shortcuts, potentially putting successful implementation at risk.

Although CMMS implementation can be a long process, it is worthwhile if it creates operational improvements and makes maintenance management easier. Our eBook, The Definitive Guide to CMMS Acquisition and Implementation, provides first-time buyers with a systematic implementation plan.

Implementation covers events that happen both leading up to and following the purchase of a CMMS. This article describes implementation planning activities – activities that occur before software has been purchased. Our second article in this series, So You Purchased a CMMS – Now What?, covers post-purchase CMMS implementation activities.

CMMS Implementation Planning Activities

In most cases, purchasing a CMMS is not a unilateral, one-sided decision. Although the software will be used primarily by the maintenance department, its use affects the entire organization. Therefore, being methodical in your approach to CMMS implementation will ensure that the chosen solution addresses everyone’s needs.

The first step for any business improvement project is to get buy-in from upper management. While there may be implied support for the project, management must first be presented with a project plan before any action is taken. The following sections help you develop the contents of the project plan.

Determine Ballpark Project Costs

Estimating, or “ballparking,” project costs for budgetary purposes may take place early or late in the implementation process. Management will likely have a ballpark number in mind for what they think the project will cost, which they may share with you. Otherwise, you may need to do a little research to get a sense of what the project might cost.

Generally speaking, you should consider the costs of software licenses, setup and installation fees, and training in your a rough estimate. Be sure to also provide an estimate of how long you expect the project to take.

Identify Stakeholders

Stakeholders are the people within your organization who will be impacted by the CMMS. Each CMMS stakeholder has different needs and a different amount of influence over the project. Therefore, you must be aware of how the CMMS is likely to affect each person’s daily work and responsibilities. Your communication of the benefits the CMMS will bring will differ when discussing the project with upper management versus technicians.

Create the Evaluation Team

As mentioned previously, CMMS implementation is not a solo effort. Successful implementations are supported by a team of internal system advocates and cheerleaders. Let’s discuss who to include on your implementation team.

One person that every implementation team should include is a project champion, whether that person is you or someone else from the facility or maintenance management team. The project champion acts as the project manager and is involved in every stage of the implementation process. This person helps identify the project goals, keep things moving, and ensure that all stakeholders are satisfied. Depending on the size of your organization, multiple other stakeholders may be involved, including:

  • Corporate management responsible for overseeing maintenance
  • A technical expert, typically IT staff, to provide internal technical support
  • Power users and system administrators who will be advising others on system use and maintaining the system
  • End users who will use the CMMS on a day-to-day basis
  • Management from departments impacted by maintenance, such as production, quality, and operations

Identify Maintenance Management Needs

The success of your CMMS will depend on how well it meets your maintenance management needs. You must first identify exactly what it is that you are looking for a CMMS to do. For example, are you responsible for maintaining a fleet of vehicles, permanent assets, or buildings? Will you be tracking inventory on work orders or through an existing system? Do you require mobile access to maintenance data?

Knowing your maintenance needs up front allows you to more easily identify viable CMMS solutions during your research. Be careful to distinguish between your needs and your wants. Needs must be addressed for your CMMS solution to be a success. This needs-identification exercise is typically done as part of a request for proposal (RFP), but can be done absent of a formal process as well.

Read On: How to Write an RFP for CMMS Software

Identify Maintenance Management Goals

Your maintenance goals should reflect your vision of how you want to improve your operations in order to satisfy your maintenance management goals.  Perhaps you are looking to minimize inventory costs, improve maintenance responsiveness, or process more work orders per month.

Setting specific goals and metrics to measure against will help you determine whether or not the CMMS is making a difference. Let’s look at a quick example:

Your goal might sound something like this: “Lower MRO inventory costs”. Note that this goal is quite broad and there can be many ways to accomplish it. Each goal needs to be more specific so that a detailed plan can be created to meet the goal and the results can be measured against the original goal.

Here’s a revised version of the goal: MRO inventory costs will be lowered by reducing the costs associated with emergency inventory purchases. With this more specific goal identified, now determine a way to measure progress. Using a CMMS, you can track dollars spent on rush orders, the number of emergency purchases, and the frequency of those purchases.

Identify CMMS Features

With your maintenance management needs and goals identified, you should be able to determine what CMMS features match your needs. Your use of the system will be based on your goals. Refer back to the goal outlined in the previous section.

The CMMS will need to be able to track inventory purchases if their costs are to be lowered. Additionally, you will want to see how costs change over time, so maintenance inventory reports will also be required. There are other, non-feature-related qualities to consider also, such as ease of use, system customization options, and scalability.

Make a Decision and Purchase a CMMS

Through your research, you and your evaluation team should identify at least 2-3 CMMS systems that will meet your requirements, fit your project budget, and can be implemented according to your deadline. After some deliberation, you should be able to make a recommendation to upper management. Make sure to note your preferred choice, along with any viable alternatives. The vendor selection process is covered in our article, How to Create a Vendor List for CMMS Research.

FTMaintenance Makes Maintenance Management Easy

FTMaintenance is a fully-featured CMMS that solves many challenges facing today’s maintenance teams. With solutions for work order management, asset management, inventory management, preventive and corrective maintenance, and more, FTMaintenance is the perfect fit for any-sized maintenance team. Read a CMMS case study to learn how our customers benefit from using FTMaintenance and schedule your demo today!

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