The realization that your maintenance management system needs an upgrade can happen in an instant. In fact, all it takes is another complaint, lost document, or last-minute item added to your to-do list to make you evaluate your processes. However, the path from recognizing the need for CMMS software to CMMS implementation can take a bit longer.

I’ve compiled a comprehensive, step-by-step list to walk you through the most effective CMMS implementation process. This guide takes you from the first second you recognize a need for change to the moment you can put your feet up on the desk and call the project a success.

It’s broken down into four easy phases:

  1. Research
  2. Plan
  3. Implement
  4. Operate

Research

The first part of any successful project is conducting research. In these steps, focus on collecting as much relevant data as possible.

1. Gather preliminary data

Now that you’ve recognized a need for change, get other key stakeholders to recognize this need as well. Start by gathering preliminary data that highlights pain points and gaps in your facility’s current maintenance system. Try to quantify issues as much as possible. Turn to key performance indicators (KPIs) to create strong, fact-based arguments and use benchmarking data from competitors to show how your facility could improve.

For example, if your facility’s planned maintenance percentage (PMP) is 40%, and the ideal percentage is 80%, this discrepancy will provide a convincing argument of the shortcomings of your current maintenance processes.

View more CMMS KPIs for additional metrics to track and gather data on.

2. Get management on board

After you’ve gathered data, present your findings to your organization’s management team. Your goal in this step is to get them on board with your vision for a CMMS. The more evidence you provide on how CMMS software will improve maintenance management processes, the more likely you’ll be met with enthusiasm and subsequent funding.

3. Create a CMMS implementation task force

Now that you’ve received the green light from your organization’s management team to begin searching for a CMMS, it’s time to create a task force to assist with the rest of the implementation process.

Your team should consist of a few people representing different groups and interests in your organization. Include at least one member of the management team in your task force to act as a liaison between your team and the rest of management. Others might include technicians and end-users who rely on the CMMS software once it’s in place. IT workers should also be included as they play a key role in getting the software up and running.

Ideally, this team should act as a sample size of the entire organization. This ensures every person’s needs and wants are considered.

Plan

After you’ve done your research you can start to plan. The following steps focus on creating a plan internally for your organization’s CMMS goals. Then, the focus shifts to finding a vendor to help you reach those goals and working with them to create an action plan for the next phase: implementation.

4. Set goals and determine scope

Once your CMMS implementation task force is assembled, outline your team’s specific goals and determine the scope of the project. This step should involve conducting more research and collecting data. Ask your task force members to speak with colleagues and various department leaders about their maintenance needs and priorities. Analyze data from several KPIs to determine the biggest factors that hold your facility back from operational excellence. Lastly, identify CMMS features that can help solve these issues.

Once you’ve gathered all of this information, create a list prioritizing the most pressing needs. These prioritized issues will become the scope of your project, the key items your team will consider as you begin to shop for CMMS vendors. With this information on hand, work with your management and financial teams to set a budget for this project. This allows you to analyze vendors and their feature sets with a set budget in mind.

5. Find a vendor that meets your needs

After your scope and budget are locked in, it’s time to search for a CMMS vendor that meets your facility’s needs and operates within your budget. Many vendors offer complimentary demos and pricing quotes. Be sure to take advantage of these services to get to know the software interfaces and various features available. This helps to create a frame of reference for the associated cost. Look for CMMS features like preventive maintenance software, asset management, spare parts inventory, and reporting and analytics.

After shopping around and trying out several vendors, compile a shortlist of 2-3 vendors that meet your needs. Then, invite your task force to try out the software. Monitor how different users (technicians, staff members, administrators, etc.) maneuver through the software. Afterwards, take note of the most liked system. Use your team’s experience, features offered, cost, and customer service ratings to determine the best option for your organization.

Once you’ve decided on the optimal CMMS solution, assemble information on why you selected the vendor and how this specific software will improve your facility’s operations. Take this information and a price quote to management for the official stamp of approval.

View our post-purchase guide to success for a step-by-step breakdown of everything that occurs after signing a contract.

6. Create a plan with your vendor

After finalizing your selected vendor, a kickoff meeting will be scheduled. In this meeting, you will meet the customer success manager dedicated to helping your organization. They will go over your goals and scope for the project and create a project timeline for implementation.

Although no two organizations are the same, plan for about six weeks from the kickoff meeting before getting the CMMS up and running.

Implement

With your plan in place, you can begin to implement the software. This phase is all about laying the groundwork for your software to run smoothly. So, take your time and follow the vendor’s instructions to set your team up for success.

7. Work with your vendor on data migration and setup

After the kickoff meeting, you walk away with your first task: organizing and preparing data for transfer. Although your new CMMS software will do all the heavy lifting when it comes to data organization and analysis, it’s important to start out with clean, complete data. Your vendor will explain what type of data (and in what format) should be gathered for the new software system. Setup can be done in one of two ways:

  1. Manually add buildings, resources, equipment, inventory, and users
  2. Batch import data via import templates. Your vendor should provide you with an excel import template to collect the following:
    • Building, location, equipment, users & inventory data
    • Historical work order data
    • Existing schedule request data
    • Planned maintenance task

With this information, and more insight regarding your unique needs and priorities, your vendor will configure your organization’s site.

8. Train your team

Once your data has been migrated and your site is built, you’re ready to start training your team. It’s best to conduct training in a top-down format—start by training administrators first, then train all other staff members. By doing so, you create point people that will be spread across the organization. The administrators that learn first will be able to train their team and troubleshoot any problems that occur. Training sessions should be led by your vendor, but it shows unity and confidence in the system if administrators are on board and involved throughout the process as well.

Operate

Once your CMMS software is ready to go and your team has been trained, it’s time to get the ball rolling and start using your new maintenance management system!

9. Begin using CMMS software (and only CMMS software)

After the software has officially launched, you can start using your brand new CMMS! This is exciting, and while you, your task force, and administrators will feel a wave of relief, it’s not time to put your feet up just yet. Whenever new technology is introduced to a system, there tends to be some resistance. In the first couple of weeks it’s crucial you make sure all members of your organization are using the CMMS software and only the CMMS software.

Some staff members may want to avoid the new system and try to submit a maintenance request through an old channel. If this occurs, reach out to this staff member and work with them to submit the request through the system. Additionally, If you hear negative feedback from your team on the new system, highlight the benefits of CMMS software and how it will ultimately make their experience better.

10. Monitor success and continue to improve processes

Once the dust has settled and your CMMS software has been in place for several weeks or months, you should begin to see improvements in the KPIs you initially set out to strengthen. The best part of a CMMS is the opportunity for continuous improvement. Since your software is giving constant feedback on your facility’s performance, begin to analyze this data. By doing so, you’ll find other opportunities for improvement and growth.

After the system has been in place for about a year, look at your cost savings and facility efficiency. With this data, calculate the return on investment (ROI) of your CMMS software to understand the impact this investment had on your organization overall. You can then work with your vendor to identify steps to make the next year more prosperous than the last.

The CMMS implementation process isn’t easy. But with the right support from your organization and a great CMMS vendor helping you along the way, it’ll be worth your while to upgrade your operations with maintenance management software.

Learn more about the benefits of CMMS software and CMMS best practices!