A Definitive and Comprehensive Guide to Help you Select the Right CMMS Software for your Organization

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS or CMMS Software) enables the management of various asset management and plant maintenance functions from a single application. It has various features like an asset register, maintenance modules, schedulers, analytics, and administration functionalities. CMMS Software brings many benefits to the organization including increasing equipment uptime, improving maintenance team productivity, enhancing asset life, increasing equipment reliability, and optimizing the cost of maintenance.

Understanding the need and benefits of a comprehensive CMMS software is very easy, whereas choosing the right CMMS is not always an easy one. When trying to evaluate CMMS software, organizations can easily get distracted by a multitude of options.

In a two-part series, let’s examine how to select the right CMMS software and how to use it effectively to meet your business objectives. Here is the first part, which outlines a comprehensive guide with several criteria, to help you choose the right CMMS software for you.

1)Start with the strategic business objectives
Understanding the organization’s business objectives and asset management/plant maintenance goals should be your first step. Once the asset management and plant maintenance goals are understood, it’s easy for you to define your business requirements and detail the features and functionalities that you require from the CMMS software.

  • What are your present business objectives?
  • How does that translate to asset management and plant maintenance goals?
  • What are your plans in terms of expansion, diversification, consolidation, and acquisition?
  • What are business use cases and maintenance scenarios that you would like to address?
  • What CMMS features and functionalities will be key to achieving your current and future strategic goals?
  • What are the regulatory, industry and organizational compliance requirements? What additional certifications or organizational initiatives need to be supported?
  • What KPIs and other metrics are needed to measure, manage, and improve the asset management/plant maintenance processes?
  • What is the technology maturity of the organization?
  • How can you roll out without friction and also ensure user adoption and engagement?
  • What is the project budget, timeframe and return on investments expected?

2)Constitute a Cross-Functional Team for Evaluation
The maintenance team will be actively using the CMMS software and thus need to play a vital role in the selection of CMMS software. The maintenance team may in turn have different internal departments (e.g. Mechanical, electrical, utilities, projects) and each of the functions need representation. Empanelling team members across different levels will ensure their unique requirements are met. For example, transaction users may require ease of use, middle managers and supervisors may require planning and productivity tools, and plant heads and maintenance heads may require comprehensive reporting and asset analytics. Representation from different plants ensures that the nuances in daily routines and best practices are captured.

Core users of the CMMS Software will be the maintenance team. However, given the role of CMMS software in enterprise asset management and meeting plant uptime goals, it plays a larger role and directly contributes to the production and revenue. Having a varied team, with representations from various departments, functions and interest groups within the organization, is essential to have a comprehensive evaluation and suitability assessment. Evaluation of the broader stakeholder team includes

  • Safety Team to look at work permits, site controls, safety equipment, de-energization activities etc.
  • Audit & Inspection team to outline the periodic inspection requirements, audit requirements, and governance and control measures
  • Finance and Accounting team to detail the financial aspects including budget vs actual, inventory accounting, depreciation and asset value calculations, asset audit etc.
  • Business Excellence teams to specify initiatives and measures relating to plant efficiency, people productivity, continuous improvement etc.

Evaluation team members should include those who understand the daily operations to those bringing a strategic perspective.

3)Define Requisite Functionalities and Business Use cases
Not all CMMS Software is created equally. While each one of the CMMS software can claim its unique selling propositions and value offerings, what separates the wheat from the chaff are the breadth and depth of functionalities. Most often the right CMMS software may not be the one with a hard sell or packaged as an appendage to a popular ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) Application. CMMS is a class of its own, requiring specific domain knowledge, process excellence and technology expertise.

Core features (breadth) of the CMMS Software include

  • Asset Register to organize the asset hierarchy and maintain comprehensive information about each of the assets
  • Breakdown Maintenance to deal with unexpected equipment outages and the processes and procedures, equipment status and progress tracking, around the repairs, replacements, and fixes
  • Preventive Maintenance to plan the routine and preventative maintenance activities, including schedules, job plans, spares, labour, tools required etc. and the efficient execution of such planned preventative maintenance to achieve the set-out maintenance goals
  • Spare parts inventory including multiple stores management, consumption, costing and analytics
  • Instruments and Calibration to track the instruments and measuring devices and ensure their compliance with statutory recalibrations
  • Predictive Maintenance capabilities to track the critical measures, construct asset models and digital twins, reliable predictions on equipment failure and spare replacement
  • Operation tools including meters to track performance, condition monitoring parameters, and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
    Regulatory and governance requirements like inspection schedules, equipment certifications (e.g. Boiler certifications), effluent management, audit procedures
  • Maintenance goals include Availability, Utilization, Productivity, Reliability, and cost metrics (budget, cost of maintenance)
  • Special requirements like Shutdown Maintenance (Turn Around Maintenance), Capital Expenditure (CapEx) Projects and Management of Change (MoC).
  • Resources include tracking maintenance team, outsourced contractors, their skill sets and certifications, utilization, and productivity
  • Additional functionalities relating to Equipment Budget Management, Annual Maintenance Contract (AMC) management.
  • Industry Certifications like ISO 55001:2014, ISO 14224:2016, Aircraft (FAA 14 CFR Part 53), Pharma (FAA CFR 14 Part 11, ISPE GAMP), and Company initiatives like Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Total Quality Management (TQM), World Class Manufacturing (WCM) and Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM).

Defining the requirements right – and to a useful level of detail – is the foundation stone for your CMMS project. All actions are going to start, and the results refer to here. Thus, small omissions, deviations or over-engineering can lead to a different trajectory with a non-conforming end-product.

4)Define the Technology Requirements

Technology plays a vital part in all information systems and IT tool selection. Besides functional requirements, the IT team shall have its own set of requirements to ensure conformance with the organization’s technology strategy. IT requirements typically include

  • Architecture and Platform: Deployment models like Cloud vs On-premises implementation, the technology used and vendor support available for the technology, additional infrastructure required, application and information architecture, risk of obsolescence etc.
  • Flexibility & Configuration to meet the organization’s unique requirements and business use cases. Essential to ensure that the organization derives benefits from the identified business objectives
  • User Engagement: A simple, easy-to-use and intuitive application will have less learning curve and thus increase user adoption and engagement.
  • Rich functionalities to improve user productivity like mobile apps, visual tools, search functionalities, document attachments, pictures, workflow approvals etc.
  • Technical measures like uptime of the application, performance, data backup and retention procedures, scalability to support business and user growth,
  • Integration capabilities with enterprise technology stack and operational technologies
  • Security considerations include infrastructure security, application security and data security and the governance and controls therein
  • Business intelligence capabilities to support asset analytics, maintenance metrics, visualizations, dashboards etc.
  • Efficiency measures like Self-service, Ease of rollout/onboarding, automated alerts/notifications, User management and granular entitlements etc.
  • Business continuity, disaster recovery, sustainability, and new functionalities

5)Evaluate the Product Functionalities and Capabilities

Depth indicates a rich set of functionalities to address the identified and latent needs of the chosen function or department in a more thorough and comprehensive manner, It also denotes the deeper support offered for the variations in the processes, as practised by different industries, in a ready-to-use fashion. Product depth reflects the maturity of the CMMS Software and the maintenance domain expertise of the organization behind the CMMS. Rich domain expertise and mature product indicate robust solutions to meet current needs and a guarantee to address the emerging needs.

Evaluating product depth can be more complex and can be assessed on these different dimensions

  • Rich feature set to address the different industry requirements and associated computations (e.g. OEE, MTBF, MTTR)
  • Standardization of processes (Similar processes and procedures across different plants and teams), institutionalization to ensure consistency, reusability of the artefacts defined (e.g. Task list, PM schedules for like equipment) etc.
  • Configuration abilities to address nuances (e.g. Shifts, equipment attributes based on equipment groups and categorization)
  • Flexibility to address the different business cases and maintenance scenarios
  • Level of internal integration in the CMMS software to provide comprehensive information
  • Level of external integration that the CMMS software support, including integration with ERP software (SAP, Infor, Oracle, Microsoft Dynamics, Homegrown ERPs), enterprise applications and data warehouses and operational technologies (OT) like M2M, PLC, SCADA, MES, DCS, Internet of Things etc.
  • Business intelligence for decision support for different user personas across levels in the organization
  • Customizations and enhancements required by the organization

6)Evaluate the Vendor
Evaluation of the CMMS Software should not only include the product capabilities but should also include that of the CMMS Vendor. Concentrating only on the product functionalities limits the evaluation to features but misses the more important points – implementation and longer-term roadmap.

  • Vendor Capabilities: Ultimately it is this organization that will determine the success of your project and realize defined benefits. Evaluating the domain expertise, maturity, tenure, and track record of the vendor should be high on the assessment. A competent vendor can address your current objectives, remediate gaps and also can steer you to the future.
  • Implementation Capabilities – Benefits of the CMMS software are realized via implementation and thus CMMS implementation is critical. To derive the defined benefits, implementation requires the convergence of industry knowledge, organization needs, maintenance expertise, process excellence and technology solution experience. It will be a joint exercise between the organization and the vendor but typically vendor-led. Understanding the vendor’s capabilities, implementation process, project execution and management abilities, track record, prior success stories etc. helps in evaluating comprehensively.
  • Product Roadmap: Technology is fast-changing, and we are witnessing many emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence / Machine Language, Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality etc. are changing the face of maintenance and asset management. Organizations should consider upcoming technology trends and industry trends and assess the Vendor’s product roadmap, direction, and product release plans.
  • Customer Support: User adoption and engagement determine the ultimate success of CMMS implementation and its usage. Customer support is the enabling factor for user adoption and engagement and thus, it is one of the most important and differentiating evaluation criteria.
  • Customer Referrals: Customer references and success stories, case studies, customer retention rates and testimonials can indicate the ability of the vendor in delivering the promise.

7)Budget and Return on Investment

CMMS Software costs need to be clearly evaluated before deciding on how to implement a new CMMS. Management would like to have a clear budget set out at the start of the project detailing the upfront capital expenditure and recurring operational expenditure. Given the complexity of vendors’ deployment and pricing models, and the many potential hidden costs, creating a CMMS budget can be far more complex.

There are 2 widely adopted deployment models

  • License Model (On-premises deployment): The software is built on the company’s data centre and servers and the built instance is available for the sole use of company personnel. Mostly it’s an upfront purchase of requisite licenses with additional costs for implementation, maintenance and support. Involves many additional costs in terms of implementation costs, customization costs, training costs, annual maintenance contracts (AMC) for upgrades, updates, and support costs.
  • Subscription Model: The application is deployed in the cloud and is delivered as a service i.e. Software-as-a-Service or SaaS. There is no capital investment required herein, and the company can use the software via browsers and mobile devices. Involves monthly subscription fees for usage based on the number of users.

On-premises deployment makes CMMS implementation very expensive with huge capital investments and operational expenditures. The hidden costs of on-premises CMMS implementation can be much bigger. SaaS or Subscription model leverages shared infrastructure and costs and makes the cost variable. Usually, subscription costs will be all-inclusive and factor hosting charges, data storage, software costs, upgrades and updates of base CMMS software, customer support etc.

The following tabulation outlines the cost factors of CMMS implementation and how the deployment models fare on each of those factors. This can serve as a comprehensive guide for you to account for all the costs and arrive at the full budget.

Cost Item License Model Subscription Model
One time License Fee Includes very high upfront fees Not applicable
Subscription Fee Not Applicable Based on Usage. Pay more as you grow Easy exits. No risk
Hardware Separate Servers for hosting needed. Capital Investment Operational Expenditure to manage servers, people to support Included in subscription fee
Software Capital investment to procure Operating Systems & database licenses Operational expenditure to upgrade, patch and maintain Included in subscription fee
Annual Maintenance Cost Charged as a substantial per centage of initial one-time license fee Upgrades and updates available only on payment of AMC Else risk of obsolescence Software always updated. New functionalities are provided. No additional cost No risk of obsolescence
Implementation Complex implementation requiring Package implementors and System Integrators are needed. Long implementation cycle High implementation fees Quick roll-out. Self-service or low fee implementation services options available
Customization and Enhancements Very high fees charged by System Integrators and Package vendors. Customizations and enhancements may become baggage and big risk to upgrade Most of the customizations can be supported with configurations No risk during software updates and upgrades
Training Huge learning curve Separate training charges Total human cost and out of pocket expenses makes it very expensive Not easy to repeat for new team members Intuitive and low learning curve Few hours of training required and can be self-learnt.
Customer Support Separate support plans may be required, depending on vendor Included in Subscription Fee
Operational Costs Operational costs towards data center maintenance, data back up and retention, technology infrastructure maintenance etc. Involves people costs and out of pocket expenses Included in Subscription Fee

8)Final Selection

Evaluations can be a multi-stage process. Initial shortlisting can be done based on listed product features and specifications. Detailed demonstrations can showcase the live product capabilities and gives an opportunity for evaluating suitability for different business use cases. Demonstrations can also help in understanding the product capabilities fully and assessing what is said vs what is shown, plan out phased implementations and adoptions. It provides an opportunity to evaluate the vendor/partner’s domain expertise and capabilities and also assess gaps, areas of improvement and best practices.

Evaluation can be multidimensional as well – on features and functionalities, technology expertise, coverage of use cases, cost of implementation (one-time vs periodic, fixed vs variable etc.), expected financial and other benefits, product roadmap and customer support. Weights can be assigned to each of the objectives on these dimensions and ratings can be given for different products under evaluation. Comprehensive scores for each CMMS software can be mapped on each of the dimensions to arrive at the final recommendation.

Risk management identifies the potential threads that prevent you from achieving defined business objectives. Risk management in CMMS implementation needs to be done at three levels Product risk, implementation risk and vendor risk. Other risks like the risk of obsolescence and exit costs should also be considered.

Upon following the above points, you will have the best view of the available CMMS solutions, their competitive comparisons, suitability assessment for your organization and the budget required. The final step is to consolidate the evaluation ratings, make recommendations to the management and get their approval for a go-ahead.

CMMS software can transform the enterprise asset management and plant maintenance function positively and progressively. A good CMMS software automates tedious and administrative tasks while ensuring the maintenance and plant heads focus on strategic functions. It provides a golden opportunity to leverage technology to make a strategic and lasting impact on the organization.

Selecting the right CMMS solution for your organization can be challenging but can be systematically addressed. Having chosen the right CMMS, your next goal is to use that effectively to transform your asset management and plant maintenance management. In our next post, we will cover how to use the CMMS effectively to support strategic business objectives.

Contact us to know more about MaintWiz Industry 4.0 CMMS solutions and for an Online Demo.

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