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Make Your CMMS Add Value, Not Destroy Value

There are far too many horror stories of CMMS implementations gone bad.  How do you stop that happening to your business?

By Gareth Roberts

With today’s focus on working smarter, not harder, many businesses are considering their options when it comes to implementing or changing their Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS).

But how do you get the best bang for your buck?

There are far too many horror stories of CMMS implementations gone wrong.  Very few businesses sing the praises of their CMMS.

How do you stop that happening to your business?  How can you get your CMMS to add value, rather than lessen it?

The biggest problem is that businesses often don’t think holistically when implementing a CMMS.  Often, the focus is on the lowest cost for the implementation and not on how to achieve maximum return on investment.  Without a focus on value rather than cost, it is no wonder these implementations often end up destroying value.

Many of Bluefield’s specialists have worked on CMMS implementations or transitions.  We’ve shared some of our most important lessons below:

Make sure things are right before Day 1

Firstly, it’s vital to get as much done pre-implementation especially in terms of defining or getting your master data up-to-scratch.  Some examples:

  • Identify all the equipment to be included in the CMMS system & provide a unique plant number for that equipment;
  • Ensure all the plans, maintenance items, and task list information are correct and frequencies are aligned properly if required;
  • Cost centres are in place;
  • Identification of the same types of plant;
  • Define the object structure required and understand the configuration required for your CMMS.

If time is taken in the pre-implementation stage to conduct a gap analysis and cleanse any corrupt data, this will ensure only the correct data will be loaded.

It’s also important to be clear on the information to be loaded.  Many times, data has not been transferred and is then lost and required to be re-created outside of the initial implementation.  The data cleanse will assist with this.

How often do you see this sort of work done improperly on an implementation?  The team are now working with incomplete data/system issues, cultural issues, and are also fighting for extra budgets to assist in resolving these issues.  We know change is never easy, but when the pre-implementation/transition stage isn’t done with a holistic approach, the disruption to the organisation and its people is a hidden cost and has consequences that have not been considered.

For example, the flow-on effect of an incomplete CMMS project to the customers and supply chain can potentially impact the bottom line and the reputation of the organisation. These key stakeholders rarely have the patience to wait for issues to be fixed (or worse, are kept held together with a band-aid solution).

Think about unintended consequences

If there are in-house technologies that have a relationship with your CMMS system, ensure all the stakeholders from this area are also involved with the project.  As a result, you’ll have a clear understanding of how to keep both systems aligned, and allow for any extra work in the project plan and budget (rather than afterwards).

Sponsorship from the top is a must….

It is imperative to have the full support of the senior decision makers in management.

Having a champion for the project from the management team will assist in communicating a thorough understanding of what is required in the project and should ensure a holistic approach is achieved.

…but don’t forget about everyone else

Having buy-in from many different stake holders from different departments in the organisation, not only the senior managers, is vital.  If stakeholders share a sense of ownership, this will assist when the roll out begins, as they will embrace the change a lot easier as they were a part of the initial conception.

Understanding the specific requirements of different departments within the organisation will assist in an easier implementation/transition;  otherwise push back can happen as there is no understanding of the system and the value that can be generated from the system.

Ensure there is clear communication for decisions being made on the project. Also engage and receive feedback from all the different stakeholders.

Consider outside help

You should consider engaging an independent consultant to assist in the project.  An outside perspective is often advantageous, both with communication and stakeholder management, as well as when auditing the work completed during the implementation.

However, be sure to carefully review the consultants and get references from previous clients asking the following:

  • How good was the organisation doing the implementation work for you?
  • Do they have experienced people doing the work?

Train, train and train some more

Ensure a robust training regime is in place for all departments.  It is imperative the people using the system are becoming familiar and feel comfortable using the system. An understanding of the benefits that will come from using the system should also be conveyed during the training.

Training always needs to be available and conducted in an ongoing routine as changes will no doubt occur in the future.

Ensure easy-to-follow guidelines for using the CMMS system are readily available.

Manage the post-implementation risk

Every project has an end date, but what happens if you still have issues with your CMMS when you reach the project end date?

Make sure you have a commissioning plan and support available throughout the commissioning phase to resolve these issues.

Finally, make sure your project completion is milestone-based, not time-based, and that the project team doesn’t de-mobilise until all systems issues are resolved.

When you think about it, a CMMS is no different to any other asset.  We all know what happens if you don’t consider the whole of an asset’s life cycle or operational readiness.  Think holistically and you’ll ensure your CMMS becomes one of your most valuable assets.