When manufacturers modernize their operations, technological solutions become inevitable. These solutions assist in process automation and improve the availability and safety of assets. For maintenance teams, computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) have improved asset maintenance procedures. These solutions have helped many companies shift from a reactive to a predictive strategy.
CMMS platforms have improved collaboration among maintenance teams, with additional tools for record-keeping, inventory control and remote diagnostics. They eliminate bottlenecks that arise from maintenance operations.
The choice of maintenance software varies depending on a company’s maintenance priorities, number and type of assets, nature of operations or maintenance goals. CMMS vendors develop their programs with multiple clients in mind. As a result, most modern CMMS solutions come with a similar set of features.
Once an organization has decided to purchase a CMMS program to support maintenance, it must conduct a thorough vetting of available vendors to select a program that matches its requirements and maintenance goals. Here are some of the crucial factors to be considered when evaluating CMMS vendors.
1. Technical capabilities. CMMS programs are designed to improve workflows, expedite maintenance operations and automate processes. Initially, a company identifies problem areas and uses this information to create a list of objectives. During the evaluation phase, the company will verify the technical strengths of the program and counter check them against their list of must-have features.
Some of the technical aspects to consider include the program’s ability to store and retrieve maintenance procedures, update work orders, autonomously evaluate equipment maintenance history, and reconcile inventory. A good program needs to provide a great analytics platform that continuously monitors the progress of maintenance teams, summarizing maintenance metrics into simple reports.
2. Scalability and flexibility. An organization develops its maintenance goals depending on the nature of the business and the number of current assets. At an early stage, the company may implement CMMS on selected assets earmarked for a pilot program. Insights from the pilot phase assist the company in refining maintenance goals and chart a path for ful-scale CMMS implementation.
Before settling on a program, a company should evaluate and ascertain the ability of each program to meet future production and maintenance needs for an expanding asset base. With the expansion, more data is to be collected and analyzed, with the onboarding of additional maintenance staff. The software should seamlessly accommodate these changes without breakdown. For example, if it is tedious to enter and find asset information with only a few assets in the software, this will become a huge problem when you expand the list of your asset inventory.
CMMS software is distributed on multiple devices within an organization. Depending on the intensity of operations, the physical orientation of processes and geographical locations of maintenance teams, the devices can be mobile or stationary. A flexible CMMS program needs to perform well on both desktop and mobile devices.
3. Ease of use. CMMS programs are ideally meant to reduce maintenance workloads through the structured execution of proactive maintenance programs. The programs perform different functions, thereby increasing the number of commands. A good program must possess a free-flowing hierarchy of commands that is backed up by a simple-to-use interface.
Implementing a CMMS program should not intimidate technicians with minimal exposure to technology. When evaluating vendors, focus on those solutions that support your workflows and provide sufficient assistance in the form of tutorials for first-time users.
Input from less tech-savvy technicians will be very important. If they can get the hang of the software quickly, the adoption will be that much easier. User-friendly maintenance software should require days of training, not weeks.
4. Deployment methods. Companies can choose between cloud-hosted or locally hosted (on-premises) CMMS programs. For those organizations that have strict data security regulations or desire to customize and have full control over the program, the software should be able to be installed on local servers or computers within their facilities and distributed through internal networks.
Cloud-hosted CMMS solutions, on the other hand, need little investment in hardware as hosting is taken care of by the CMMS vendor. The updates and upgrades are seamless and automatic, which is another huge plus.
When reviewing software from different vendors, the company should consider the mobility of maintenance teams, hardware requirements, data acquisition and processing speed, data security, and the level of control needed over the CMMS programs.
5. Technical support and pricing. A good vendor is the one who walks with you throughout the journey. The vendor provides technical assistance from planning, training of technicians, implementations, and upgrades. After implementation, technicians may encounter technical errors or bugs associated with the software. The vendor should provide round-the-clock support for resolving any technical issues that arise.
Apart from solving inherent maintenance problems, the CMMS software must provide value for the investment. The program is anticipated to provide a suitable return on investment, which is evidenced by reduced operational and maintenance costs. Vendors offer different licensing and pricing models; it is the company’s choice to select the one that fits its budget. A good vendor provides a clear and detailed breakdown of initial costs, upgrade costs, and license renewal costs.
Companies should perform in-depth research to gather reviews and identify the vendor's market reputation, confirm the reliability of its products and the credibility of the company. Credible vendors have remarkable industry ratings, referrals, and case studies.
Wrapping up. There are multiple factors to be reviewed before a company purchases a CMMS program. The selection process can be confusing, especially with many vendors offering similar features. Because of that, companies should be more focused on how those features are implemented and what is their ease of use.
Good vendor reviews require the input of senior management and the implementation teams to identify the best fit. Critical analysis of the above-listed factors will expedite the decision-making process.
Bryan Christiansen is the founder and CEO of Limble CMMS. Limble is a modern, easy to use mobile CMMS software that takes the stress and chaos out of maintenance by helping managers organize, automate, and streamline their maintenance operations.