Follow These Ten Steps
No matter how large or small your operation, a computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) is an enabling tool that translates your needs and wishes into real-time practice. By centralizing and automating the tracking of your assets, bottlenecks are anticipated — and prevented.
This sounds like a maintenance engineer’s dream, right? Yet experts estimate that up to 80 percent of CMMS implementations fail to meet expectations. Why? There are 10 steps to a successful CMMS implementation that if followed, will assure that yours is one of the success stories.
But first, let’s make sure we are on the same page about just what a CMMS is and can do – and what it is not.
A CMMS can transform the productivity of your maintenance team to “world class” status by:
- Centralizing the storage of data on all of your assets, from equipment to supplies.
- Automating workflows and processes.
- Tracking work orders, including the time required for project completion and the associated costs.
- Monitoring inventory levels and triggering “just-in-time” parts orders.
- Ensuring compliance with industry or government regulations.
- Producing data that allow priorities to be set and decisions to be informed.
There are a host of factors that contribute to a profitable CMMS implementation. The process requires a good deal of planning as well as the investment of time and training.
Maintenance teams working for world-class operations spend 55-65 percent of their day on wrench time (in other words, performing maintenance, rather than finding parts or determining who submitted a work order), vs. the 18-30 percent average.
The result: The volume of tasks your team is able to complete increases substantially, with a smaller investment of man-hours. Likewise, when you are able to track maintenance activity over the lifecycle of your assets, performance is optimized. In world-class operations, an average of 65 percent of the team’s time is spent on scheduled, preventive maintenance, rather than on unplanned repairs.
However, CMMS is not a magic wand; it requires the investment of time and training. That prospect may seem daunting at first. But I like to remind my clients of the fortune a colleague of mine found in a Chinese cookie when I was a field engineer: “The secret is to begin! The rest is easy.” These 10 steps will guide the way.
1. Choose a project champion and cross-functional implementation team.
The most successful implementations are championed by a central “owner” who understands that maintenance management is an ongoing process of continuing improvement – not just a one-time project.
This champion should choose a supporting team that draws expertise from a variety of departments, ranging from information technology, to purchasing, to materials management. Software developers, as well as other consultants, may be tapped as well. Wherever they come from, certain roles are critical to fill, including:
- Executive leadership, to approve funding and critical decisions.
- Maintenance leadership, including the champion and the future system administrator.
- Project leaders, including a manager who documents the requirements and an analyst who defines how the system will be used.
- Subject-matter experts, such as individuals knowledgeable in purchasing and Six Sigma.
- IT liaisons.
- Implementation consultants.
2. Familiarize the core team.
The core team must become your CMMS experts and future trainers, but initially, there will be a learning curve. Your software developer or implementation consultant should provide upfront training to bring your core team members up to speed and assure that the system’s capabilities are fully understood. An important objective of this training is to get all team members on the same page, and to understand the significance of your new CMMS solution and their role in making it a success.
3. Define workflow processes.
This is a critical step; giving it short shrift is one of the most common causes of implemen