Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS)

The use of information technology to assist with the effective stewardship of the assets.

A computerized system to assist with the effective and efficient management of maintenance activities through the application of computer technology, hardware and software. 

Scope of the CMMS
The CMMS generally includes activities that track, monitor, measure and control maintenance, such as:

  • Generating and tracking of work orders
  • Scheduling of routine maintenance activities 
  • Archiving equipment histories
  • Recording and storing standard jobs, bills of materials and applications parts lists.
  • Integration with human resources where maintenance is conducted by own forces
  • Numerous other features. 

A CMMS is often integrated with support systems such as inventory control, purchasing, accounting  and human resources.

Selection Process
Before an organization considers a CMMS they should go through the following preliminary steps:
  • Confirm the existing document storage systems being used by the organization (for drawings, service contracts, work orders, etc.)
  • Confirm whether the organization have an appropriate asset inventory.
  • Confirm whether the organization has a suitable maintenance plan for their assets. The maintenance plan should provide the maintenance checklists for the CMMS. Essentially, a CMMS is only as good as the maintenance checklists entered into the system. Many CMMS do not come with pre-populated checklists. They are like MSWord or MSExcel – a blank slate waiting for the user to insert/create the content.
  • Confirm what percentage of the organization’s maintenance is performed in-house by the organization’s staff vs. 3rd party contractors.  This is going to have a huge impact on the type of CMMS that may be appropriate.
  • Confirm the main reasons why the organization wants the CMMS:  To serve as timekeeper with alerts of upcoming activities? To coordinate O&M staff? For recordkeeping of completed tasks? To generate financial reports for management? Etc.
  • Answer the CMMS questionnaire (see below) to determine if the organization has the necessary commitments and resources
  • Confirm the organization’s annual maintenance budget.
  • Research different maintenance software platforms.  
There are many different CMMS products on the market, the majority of which are not suited to small organizations.

Many small to medium organizations do not even make proper use of their CMMS.  I cannot tell you how many facility managers have told me that their CMMS simply gathers dust or that it does not do what they want it to do.

Many organizations think that a CMMS is going to help solve their problems but this is often not the case.  After purchasing the product, they come to realize that what they really needed was a good maintenance plan and good service agreements with 3rd party contractors.

The following list includes some question that the organization should ask itself when considering a CMMS.Inserted below is a simple questionnaire to help an organization determine whether they are ready for a CMMS.
  • Does management really know what a CMMS is and what it can do?
  • How would you grade top management’s level of commitment to the idea of implementing a CMMS?
  • How likely is it for management to frequently and consistently use the information provided by a CMMS to aid on their decision-making process?
  • How would you grade the technical know-how of the personnel involved in inputting and extracting information from the CMMS?
  • How well are the organization CMMS needs specified?
  • How likely is it that there will be one (or more) people responsible to ensure the quality of the information entered on the CMMS?
  • How organized is the maintenance department with whatever tools are currently at their disposal?
  • How aware and ready is the maintenance for an increase in administrative workload?
  • What is the likelihood that customer, regulatory or insurance requirements will demand easy and prompt access to maintenance log information?
  • How likely is it that the natural resistance to change of all people involved can be overcome (especially if the current procedures – or lack thereof – has been in place for some time)?
The following list contains a mechanism for scoring the organization relative to its response to each of the precedit questions.
  • 0%-50% - The organization is probably not ready for a CMMS and the investment will probably be not worthwhile at least for now.
  • 50%-60% - The new CMMS has a fair chance to succeed, but there are some items that need to be further developed. To decrease your risk, it is better to work on your rank before you go ahead with any commitment
  • 60%-80% - You have a fair chance for success and continuous correct CMMS use. Most companies will probably score on this range.
  • 80%-100%   The organization stands to benefit greatly from a CMMS.

Problems with CMMS
  • Sometimes too complicated
  • Need to be pre-populated with maintenance checklists and intervals

Examples of CMMS
Listed below are some examples:

See list of asset management software

See also:

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