Organizational growth can come in the form of new locations, new employees, and/or new products. This growth usually requires you to purchase additional assets and modify your maintenance management process. Therefore, scalability is an important characteristic to consider when selecting or expanding the usage of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).
What is Scalability?
First things first – what is meant by scalability? In CMMS software, scalability is the ability to accommodate and support an increasing amount of data or a growing number of users in a cost-effective manner. In other words, scalability is the ability of the software to “grow” as usage increases without drastically increasing costs or sacrificing performance. A good CMMS has the capacity to handle an increasing amount of users, workload, or transactions without straining the system.
Factors Affecting Scalability
When choosing CMMS software, it’s necessary to think about how the system will support your maintenance operations as they scale up. Selecting a system that gives you the flexibility to grow, rather than one that only meets your current needs, will help you avoid replacing your CMMS in the future. The scalability of CMMS software can be affected by the following factors:
- The number of assets maintained
- The number of inventory items
- The size of the maintenance team(s)
- The number of sites where the CMMS is to be used
- The level of interdependence between maintenance operations and other departments (e.g., accounting, purchasing, production, etc.)
- The desired maintenance service levels needed to improve key performance indicators (KPIs)
How to Scale Your CMMS Software
Provided that your CMMS can accommodate your future needs, you must still determine when and how scaling will take place. As mentioned earlier, organizational growth typically drives the need to scale your CMMS. When changes happen (or are about to happen), it is a good time to assess your maintenance management software needs. Broadly speaking, the process of scaling a CMMS requires you to understand the reason(s) why you need to scale, consider the costs involved, and strategically plan the implementation of any changes.
Understand Why You Need to Scale
Scaling your CMMS software can happen in many ways. First, think about why you need to scale or what business problem(s) you are trying to solve through scaling. Ask questions like:
- How many assets do I maintain and track?
- Do more people need access to the software?
- Are we running out of data storage?
- Will the software be expanded to another location?
- Am I meeting my maintenance management goals?
Once this information is known, you can identify potential solutions and their related costs.
Understand the Cost of Scaling
The costs related to scaling a CMMS vary by the solution of the problem(s) to be solved. For example, some solutions, like onsite training, require one-time costs; additional software license costs are ongoing. Possible cost drivers include, but are not limited to:
- Hardware (additional computers and/or devices, servers and drivers, data storage and memory, printers, scanners, etc.)
- Additional CMMS software licenses
- IT staff expansion or consulting
- User training
- Data backups
- CMMS software upgrades
Plan Your Implementation
With a list of potential solutions and their related costs in hand, you are almost ready to make changes. Think strategically about your implementation – you shouldn’t necessarily focus on the solution with the lowest cost. Instead, look at your options in terms of risk or the threats they pose. For example, if you anticipate that software adoption will stall your implementation, begin with user training.
Common CMMS Scalability Pitfalls
Although many organizations are able to successfully scale their CMMS to accommodate growing maintenance operations, there are a number if things people tend to overlook during this process. Consider the following to avoid a botched implementation:
Many organizations delay training until the newly scaled system is implemented. When training is delayed, this often frustrates new users as they attempt to navigate the software “blind.” Ensuring those who are going to operate the system and carry out maintenance processes are ready is the key to successfully adding staff and/or locations.
When organizations go from using a CMMS at a single site to using the software at multiple sites, they tend to overlook how they’re going to back up their data. This includes how they will use the backups to recover information during the transition and how long it will take before they can resume operations. Even with single-site implementations, disruptions such as hardware failures or viruses can occur. Therefore, regular data backups can save you from disaster or setbacks.
Differences between Single and Multi-Site Implementation
There are subtle differences that affect implementation at multiple sites versus one. For instance, establishing a proper asset naming convention is crucial when accessing data from multiple locations. Appointing a system administrator provides users with a single point of reference for the software. Ensuring that maintenance data can be easily share with new locations helps them go live sooner.
Expand Your Maintenance Operations with FTMaintenance CMMS
FTMaintenance CMMS software is designed to grow along with your maintenance management needs. Whether transitioning from manual maintenance management methods to a CMMS or upgrading to FTMaintenance from an obsolete system, our consulting services can help you plan your implementation and avoid the pitfalls of scaling a CMMS. Take a tour to learn more about FTMaintenance.