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The maintenance and facility management discipline is one of stunning diversity, ranging from basic upkeep at a single-site facility to asset management at a global enterprise. Unsurprisingly, there are a broad range of applications available to help facility managers control day-to-day operations. The global market for facility and maintenance software is projected to surpass $43 billion by 2019—almost doubling its current value of $24.7 billion.1 Commonly known as CMMS, or computerized maintenance management software, these solutions vary in complexity, price, and industry use, and without the right expertise, it can be difficult to choose the best CMMS software for your business. This buyer’s guide will help you better understand what CMMS has to offer, how your organization can use it, how to narrow your search, and how to compare CMMS software products.
CMMS Software Overview
CMMS is an automated system for managing preventative and reactive maintenance of an organization’s facilities and assets. It gives lower-level workers tools to work efficiently and enter data about repairs, parts, and materials, and gives managers control and visibility into maintenance histories, compliance, and the condition of company property.
By optimizing workflows for back-end upkeep and eliminating equipment downtime, CMMS helps organizations devote more time and resources to their bottom line.
Since it has built-in tools for asset management, many consider CMMS interchangeable with enterprise asset management (EAM), at least from a semantic standpoint, but there are important distinctions between the two. EAM solutions tend to offer deeper functionality for handling assets of any kind—whether physical machinery or IT equipment—with centralized access across an entire enterprise. CMMS systems, on the other hand, are more often limited to physical assets in a smaller network of facilities, or even a single site. That said, CMMS and EAM are not mutually exclusive; many CMMS systems even integrate with EAMs and other enterprise software, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.
Many maintenance management solutions are sold as modular products, which gives buyers the opportunity to custom-build solutions, paying only for the features they need. Some products can be as basic as a work-order module built into a property management system.
Common Features of CMMS Platforms
Regardless of industry vertical or product packaging, there are a handful of common features buyers can expect to see in almost any CMMS system:
- Work orders: scheduling and allocating jobs for repairs, inspection, or breakdown, and tracking progress from job open to job closeout, sometimes with built-in reporting features
- Job and materials costing: recording and standardizing a database of job and materials expenses to be used for prioritizing work, reporting, and accounting
- Asset management: helps organizations track and control their physical (and sometimes digital) assets by location and condition, recording relevant data on warranties, service schedules, technical specifications, parts inventories, etc.
- Inventory and procurement: ensures the upkeep of appropriate parts, tools, and materials levels, tracks specific inventory locations, and allows built-in order placement/purchasing or integrates with outside catalogs
- Regulatory compliance management: stores data and documentation to help managers comply with safety, permits, and industry standards and respond to audit requests
- Preventative maintenance automation: preempts equipment and facility failure by using time-based or meter-based triggers to prompt regular equipment servicing
- Condition Monitoring: monitors triggers like heat, pressure, flow, voltage, etc. in order to schedule work or materials orders and provide performance insight
- Labor resource tracking: stores personnel skill profiles for future job/skills matching (for example, and electrical job, or a mechanical job) and forecasting of new labor needs
- Reporting: CMMS can report on any number of facility and equipment-specific metrics, from failure codes to downtime, work order history, and peak use hours, as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) such as work order resolution or inventory variance
Common CMMS Applications
CMMS is a smart investment for any business that manages a high-priority, high-traffic facility or a collection of depreciable assets. For this reason, CMMS is widely used in many industries, including manufacturing, education, healthcare, construction, energy and utilities, the public sector, and even data centers.2 Within these industries the target market is primarily divided into three tiers:
- Simple Facilities: Simple facilities are generally single-site and have fairly basic maintenance management needs revolving around facility upkeep and one-off troubleshooting. Managers at these types of facilities prefer simple, intuitive CMMS solutions for tracking work orders and building compliance.
- Asset/Equipment groupings: Organizations with collections of depreciable assets use CMMS as a central automation engine for the “care and feeding” of their assets. One of the most common examples is fleet management, such as found in school bus systems and other public sector vehicles.3 But a company’s assets can also include stationary equipment (such as factory floor machines), hardware (printers, fax machines), and digital assets (such as servers).
- Complex Facilities: Complex facilities can span multiple locations or consist of a campus environment with multiple buildings, work zones, and interfering variables like terrain, environmental hazards, and pedestrian thoroughfares. Examples might include college campuses, medical installations, industrial plants, and even global enterprises. Of the three, complex facilities usually have the most extensive maintenance software needs, since they require tools for managing both facilities and assets across a wider geographic area.
Creating Executive Buy-In
To ensure successful adoption and long-term ROI, it’s important for decision-makers to get leadership on-board; that means they have to agree with the initial need for CMMS and the value it will add after implementation. As the person carrying the torch on maintenance software procurement, your job is to build a compelling business case—one that sells CMMS to its future stakeholders in the company. Here are some talking points for specific executives to get you started:
Your chief information officer (or chief technology officer, in some cases) is already deeply invested in confluence of technology and business goals, so you shouldn’t have much trouble getting them involved early on. In fact, your CIO is an excellent resource for sorting through the technical complexities of available solutions and choosing the safest, most stable system for you business. If your organization isn’t using CMMS, you probably rely on some kind of home-baked system. These in-house systems are a sometimes necessary evil — for a time — but they often lack true end-to-end usability and fail to integrate with other crucial business applications. It’s a familiar story: data falls into silos, employees don’t collaborate like they could/should be, work orders get caught in the same bottlenecks over and over again, and so on. Tell your CIO that a CMMS solution will save them from piecemeal workflows and having to build a system in house that exhausts precious infrastructure resources and brings no guarantee of updates and support.
Your chief financial officer will want to know two things: how much does it cost, and how much can it save us? Pricing varies between CMMS vendors, according to scale, features, platform and other factors. So you’ll have to bring a shortlist to you CFO for final consideration and approval. But in addition to that, you should outline a few ways CMMS will save the company in operational expenses and damage control. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, preventative maintenance systems can cut costs between 12 and 18 percent.4 CMMS solutions also reinforce more thorough documentation and data entry; along with supporting regulatory compliance, this data feeds into better insights for optimizing productivity, which—again—is money saved.
As you might’ve guessed, your CEO is focused on the big picture. They’re concerned with how your company is positioning itself in the overall market and the strategic value contributed by different moving parts. A CMMS system is indubitably one of those moving parts, but they probably won’t be swayed by granular details about a specific CMMS platform, like how many features and integrations it has. Instead, show them how the software can scale with future growth and help the company stay competitive by eliminating waste and proactively keeping valuable investments in working order.
Depending on your industry, you may have an executive project manager who influences purchasing decisions, in addition to managing a portfolio of other, ongoing projects. One of the best ways to sway your project manager is to tell them that a CMMS system will accrete data that serves as an bedrock for future development projects. Information about building specs, repairs, electrical and plumbing schematics, and code compliance can all be poured into the ideation and design of—say—a new floor addition, or an elevator renovation. For manufacturing companies, CMMS supports lean production methodology by eliminating waste associated with defective equipment and sloppy parts inventory, which a project manager will also value.
CMMS Software Case Study
Siemens and MPulse CMMS5
The Siemens Building Technologies Group manufactures fire safety and security equipment, HVAC, building automation, and energy technology out of its manufacturing facility in Buffalo Grove, IL. With over 1,000 total employees, 3,500 pieces of equipment, and 115,000 square feet of space, they entrust maintenance and repair to a small, three-man technician crew.
Their search for CMMS was initiated by Vic Carrescia, supervisor of engineering support, who joined the department in 2009. “Everything was done on paper by records that were kept in checklists in Word or Excel,” he said. The facility also had a custom program developed in-house that provided basic problem-targeting capability through a color-coded “cell status board.” This board, while originally a good idea, didn’t grow with the company, and didn’t reflect changes made to infrastructure. With this in mind, Carrescia was looking for a system that could provide unified visibility of asset health and facility status.
After a thorough search, the Siemens facility selected MPulse Gold Edition in 2010, attracted to its features for preventative maintenance scheduling, work order management, and inventory control, among many others. During implementation, MPulse even developed a new, custom feature for Carrescia on-request, based on the cell status board. This feature is now called the “Asset Status Board” and included as a standard feature in MPulse Silver, Gold, and Platinum editions. Carrescia and his team enjoyed a number of strategic benefits after adopting MPulse’s CMMS solution:
- Streamlined communication through visual management tools and faster response times
- Improved preventative maintenance scheduling, used on the manufacturing floor, and in calibration and quality assurance
- Employee development automation (through documentation and reminders on DOT and hazardous materials training)
- Work order completion rates averaging 80-90 percent for more than 100 orders per month
- 100 percent of preventative maintenance orders completed every month
- Direct inclusion of relevant vendors and technicians in work and purchase orders
- “Facility Management Market by Solutions.” PR Newswire. Last modified September 11, 2014. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/facility-management-market-by-solutions-cafm-iwms-cmms-bim-iwms–services—worldwide-market-forecasts-and-analysis-2014-2019-274798591.html
- “Maintenance Management and Your Data Center.” Data Center Knowledge. Last modified July 9, 2014. http://www.datacenterknowledge.com/archives/2014/07/09/maintenance-management-data-center/
- Sapp, Don. “Computerized Maintenance Management Systems.” WBDG. Last modified October 23, 2014. http://www.wbdg.org/om/cmms.php
- “How to Estimate the ROI of a CMMS.” DPSI. Last modified April 18, 2013. http://www.dpsi.com/blog/how-to-estimate-the-roi-of-a-cmms/
- “Green-Lighted for Success.” MPulse. Accessed March 26, 2015. http://www.mpulsesoftware.com/sites/default/files/MPulse_Siemens_Case_Study.pdf