For organizations that just purchased a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), or for those looking into how to make the most of CMMS software, we have the answer. After speaking with thousands of maintenance management software users, we’ve developed 13 CMMS best practices that your organization should implement in order to get the most out of your system.
CMMS best practices for software selection
Choosing the right CMMS for your goals can be difficult. Make sure you practice these tips to ensure you can efficiently select the right system!
1. Get buy-in from leadership
If the leadership team at your organization isn’t on board, your maintenance team won’t be either. When the leadership team endorses maintenance management software as a key to the organization’s success and strategy, your team will be more inclined to use it to its full potential.
Action item: Put together a game plan to share with upper management. Be sure to evaluate your current processes, identify drawbacks, and outline your team’s goals. Your plan should also include estimated costs, time to get up-and-running, and the value the software will bring your team. If you’re able to provide a return on investment for the system, that will bode even better for your discussion with leadership. At the end of the day, they want to know the time and money this will save your team and the organization.
2. Choose a person/team to lead the CMMS project
You should assign an individual or a group to lead the CMMS project. There are many moving parts to selecting, implementing, and continuously improving a maintenance management system. A group that understands the goals of the project, has been through demos, free trials and in-depth research, and fully understands what’s required to get the system up and running is ideal for success.
Action item: Choose a leader or team to run this project. The individuals on this team should have strengths in the following areas:
- Conducting research
- Project management
- Outlining goals and objectives
- Teaching others how to use software
- Creating detail-oriented plans for success
The goals of this team will be to implement the software and ensure all staff know how to use it. If you have multiple team members, assigning them different roles will allow them to each have a focus area. These roles can include: project manager, training specialist, administrator, and others. Assign roles and responsibilities based on experience and skillset.
3. Select a vendor that will support your goals
There are many CMMS options out there, and you want to ensure you choose the one that’s best for your organization and its goals. While having the features and functionality you need to support your processes is of utmost importance, there are other items to consider.
Action item: When evaluating vendors, ask them the following:
- What kind of support do you offer? Is it ongoing?
- Will I have a dedicated account manager?
- What does training look like for me and my team? What if I hire new employees?
- Is the software easy-to-use? Will my entire team be able to successfully use the system?
- Is the system mobile-friendly?
Choosing a vendor that takes the time to understand your goals and creates a partnership with your organization will make for a very smooth transition. So, be sure the vendor you choose is able to support you every step of the way towards maintenance management success.
CMMS best practices for implementation
Implementing a CMMS is often times more work than most facilities and maintenance leaders envision. In order to fully prepare for success, there are several CMMS best practices we recommend implementing.
4. Put training procedures in place for your entire team
Your team will need to know how to open, manage, and close out requests, so having training procedures and schedules in place is going to be very important.
Action item: Many CMMS vendors will already have training protocols in place, so this is a good place to start. Take advantage of any and all training services they offer, and then determine if further education is needed. If you choose a CMMS that’s easy-to-use, you most likely won’t need additional coaching.
It’s also a good practice to have a training plan in place for new hires on your team. Some CMMS vendors have ongoing training, which means they will train new members of your team for free! If that’s not an option for your CMMS vendor, be sure to take detailed notes during the training processes your vendor walks you through because you’ll need to do this for new employees.
5. Configure the software to fit your needs
You want to make using this new system as easy as possible for your team, otherwise you risk adoption failure. By customizing the system to fit the different needs of your organization, you can reduce this risk. So long as your CMMS is highly configurable, you should be able to ensure an easy-to-use experience.
Action item: Work with your CMMS vendor to set up different user types in your system. A technician is going to need to have different permission settings than someone in the building who is simply submitting maintenance requests. Setting up role-based user types ensures everyone can see everything they need, and nothing they don’t.
6. Import clean, organized data
Your CMMS vendor will most likely ask for data you’d like to import into your system. It’s important that you clean and organize this data before importing it. Incorrect, unclear data is going to make your software kickoff a nightmare. So, be sure to take the time to clean your data and purge anything that is inaccurate.
Action item: Many vendors will provide a template for you to import all of your existing data. As you take data from your current system, if possible, get rid of all data that may be corrupted or incorrect. I promise that starting with no data is better than starting with inaccurate data. Be sure to follow the template provided by the vendor – this will make for a much quicker implementation time.
7. Tag assets and equipment with QR codes for easy management
You will find that maintenance management will run a whole lot smoother if you tag your assets and equipment with QR codes upfront. When technicians are in the field, they can simply scan the code and pull up every work order, instruction set, warranty, manual, and detail related to that asset. This makes it extremely easy to pull up information while in the field.
Action item: Once all of your equipment items are in the CMMS, most systems will automatically generate a QR code. You can affix each QR code to the appropriate equipment and scan it from a mobile device to pull up its information. It’s that easy!
8. Detail end-user responsibilities
One of the most important steps in implementation is ensuring end users know how to submit maintenance requests. After all, if they can’t submit them, you may not find out about the issues.
Action item: Set up a separate training for end users that details exactly how to submit a request. Your CMMS vendor may be willing to do this, or your CMMS team can walk them through it.
CMMS best practices for ongoing success
Once the system is up and running, you can take a bit of a breather, but the work is never done. It’s important to follow CMMS best practices through your time with the system.
9. Take time to learn all the system’s capabilities
It’s difficult to learn all the capabilities of a CMMS during a demo or free trial. Be sure to do a deep dive into each feature of your system once it’s set up to make sure you understand it like the back of your hand. You want to ensure that you know all of its capabilities so that you can better serve your team and get the most out of the system.
Action item: Be on the lookout for new features from your vendor. Most CMMSs are constantly being evolved and updated. Make sure you’re on top of these and enable any that will help your organization accomplish its goals.
10. Discover champions
Find people who are naturally comfortable with the software’s concepts, and encourage them to advocate on its behalf. Early adoption is a vital part of every successful software rollout. Leverage the excitement of your innovators and early adopters to build momentum around your new CMMS – these champions can help convince the rest of your employees to use it.
Action item: Early on, keep a close eye on your team and search for these champions. Look for the following characteristics:
- Excitement about the new software
- Little to no learning curve when using the CMMS
- Excellent collaboration and teamwork skills
11. Enforce use
The only way to reap all the benefits of a CMMS is if everyone is using the system. Sometimes, it’s easy to go back to old habits of submitting a paper work order or not following all of the appropriate steps to work on and close out a work order. Make sure everyone in your organization is trained to use the system and understands the value it adds to your organization.
Action item: Enforce use by setting expectations for the software up front. A helpful tip is to tell end users that their requests will only be looked at if they are in the system – this will increase adoption rates.
12. Gain insights from reports and analytics
Once you’ve had your CMMS in place and have started to collect data regarding your equipment, assets, work orders, and preventive maintenance initiatives, you can start to use this data to create insights and fuel decisions. Many maintenance leaders use the data from their CMMS to justify the need for more headcount, new assets and equipment, new technology, or new projects.
CMMS solutions provide all of this data in super easy-to-understand graphs and charts, and most of them allow you to easily download these charts to print off or send to upper management.
Action item: Review the reporting and analytics capabilities of your CMMS with your chosen vendor. They will be able to set these reports up for you and provide guidance on how to best gain insights from them. Some CMMS vendors will even create custom reports to support your unique business goals.
13. Continuously improve processes
Implementing a CMMS isn’t the end solution – there’s still work to do after you get the software up and running. Your job now is to understand how users are interacting with the system, what is missing from your workflows, and the progress you are making on your organization’s main goals. A CMMS is meant to help you reach your objectives – make sure you are giving it the time and energy it needs to continue to be a value-add for your business.
Action item: Gather feedback from end users and your team to understand how processes can be improved and what may need to be added or changed to maximize value.
CMMS software can be the key to creating highly productive maintenance processes, but it requires time, energy, and continuous monitoring to get there. By acting on these CMMS best practices, you are one step closer to maintenance management success.