A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is a tool to help schedule, plan, manage, and track maintenance activities associated with equipment, vehicles or facilities. A successful implementation process is critical to leverage the full power of a CMMS. A CMMS can enable organizations to:

  • Improve your maintenance performance based on data
  • Track and manage the maintenance backlog
  • Automate maintenance workflows and processes
  • Track projects and associated maintenance costs
  • Prioritize work and manage resources
  • Track and control use of maintenance materials

However, experts estimate that up to 80% of CMMS implementations fail to meet expectations. This is due in large part to a lack of preplanning and preparation prior to jumping into implementation. Most CMMS solutions also fail shortly after the novelty of implementation wears away, and the spotlight moves to another important and interesting industry project.

What Causes CMMS Implementation Failure?

Many organizations mistake a CMMS implementation as a technology project. A great deal of time, as much as a year if not longer, is taken to make sure the software meets specific criteria. Selecting the right software is important, however CMMS projects are more about preparation and change management than about technology. The main causes of CMMS implementation failure are:

  • Poor or insufficient project management
  • Lack of vision for the future

Many organizations fail in project and change management because they do not ensure that their project plans are comprehensive. The plan must be documented, followed, and used to track and analyze progress. Implementations fail because teams are often not held responsible for their tasks, or accountable for the results.
A lack of vision for the future is another reason why implementations falter. An aspect of change management is developing goals and a vision of how maintenance will function with a CMMS fully implemented. It is important to document and communicate goals for the role of maintenance in facilitating organizational success, the company’s approach to maintenance, and how a CMMS will support business processes.
Cintas Corporation is a top manufacturer of corporate identity uniforms, entrance mats, document management services and more to over 800,000 businesses, through 430 distributed facilities in the US and Canada. After a few years using eMaint, the Cintas team realized that they needed to focus on fundamental data to achieve their goals. For Cintas, this meant performing the labor of loading 28,000 assets into the system after the team was already using the system. Otherwise, they could not get eMaint CMMS to yield important data regarding decisions such as repair vs. replace, OEE, MTTR, MTBF, and uptime percentages in real-time. Once that work was completed, Cintas began seeing useful, accurate data to help them improve their Return on Net Assets (R.O.N.A) and much more. Regional Project Manager and Facility Management Engineer James Wagoner noted that he wished the team had incorporated this work into the implementation plan, so that they would have achieved these results earlier.

What Makes Implementations Successful?

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.

Set Organizational Needs, Wants and Wishes

Successful CMMS implementations are systematic and methodical. A useful way to begin is with a list of what your organization would like to accomplish with a CMMS from a wish/want/needs perspective. This includes:

  1. Identifying and documenting immediate needs THAT…
  2. Drive the want to…
  3. Feed the wishes in order to support continuous improvement.

Developing these goals and a well-rounded implementation plan is time-saving process that leads to reducing costs and meeting goals. The process revolves around prioritizing those goals to experience the full potential of a CMMS. eMaint’s Sr. Consultants note that the most successful implementations have incorporated:

  • A defining phase for the time to develop all pertinent data standards, ensuring consistent data collection.
  • Leveraging the knowledge of an experienced CMMS implementer for guidance.
  • A defined initial implementation timeline to help gauge where an organization is, where they are going and what’s next.

This was the method of Marc Cote, C.B. Fleet Laboratories Director of Maintenance and Engineering. CB Fleet is a leading manufacturer of over-the-counter health and beauty care products. With aggressive growth goals at the forefront of the company’s strategy, Cotes and his team interviewed technicians, collected foundational data, and developed a vision statement for where the company wanted to be in 5 years. Cote populated eMaint dashboards with these goals, and consistently provide updates to this information.
Cote’s approach to implementation and deployment can be seen as a lesson for any company with similar growth goals. Identifying the pain points of employees and developing a clear vision of where you want to be, is an organized way to stay on track with improvements as the initial excitement of implementation fades.  

Provide CMMS Training for End Users

In addition to laying out those objectives, it is equally critical to provide comprehensive CMMS training for end users, and create a cross-functional implementation team. With effective CMMS training, users learn to perform functions correctly, eliminating time-consuming trial and error and save time spent in the system to allow for completion of other tasks.
The most successful implementations are also championed by an employee who owns the project. This person should choose a supporting team that draws expertise from a variety of departments, ranging from information technology, to purchasing, to materials management.
Herbalife Nutrition, a global nutrition company, manufactures and sells nutrition, weight management, and skin-care products. In preparation for a manufacturing expansion into an 800,000 square foot facility on the east coast, the company searched for a CMMS. Best practices were at the heart of the company’s approach to implementation.
Paul Sheehy, Director of Engineering and Facilities, Laura Phillips, CMMS Administrator and the rest of the maintenance management team carefully selected a high performance work team to champion the project. “They are a strong team of maintenance experts. From the beginning of implementation, we made an investment in training to ensure they could leverage what they were learning,” said Sheehy.
To learn the top keys to CMMS success, check out “What’s the Secret to CMMS Success?” by eMaint’s Sr. Consultant in Professional Services.

Focus On Continuous Improvement

There are so many ways to deploy a CMMS that improvement is always possible. As organizations use the intelligence from a CMMS to drive decisions, team leads will understand the causes of failures and can make continuous adjustments. Establishing success metrics right from the get-go, along with a team responsible for a continual review process, is a key to continuous improvement and a successful implementation.
To get started, project champions should focus on questions such as:  

  • What data or reports would make your life easier?
  • What information does your boss consistently ask for?
  • What is your current PM:CM (Planned Maintenance: Corrective Maintenance) ratio?
  • What type of PM:CM ratio does your business need?
  • What are your current maintenance budget busters?
  • What is your on-time PM performance or compliance?

The answers to these questions have helped many organizations decide on the right metrics to track, most notably leading and lagging indicators of performance. Future events are noted as leading indicators, and they include PM Compliance, or Estimate vs. Actual Performance. As such, lagging indicators explain past events. Useful lagging indicators are Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) and Mean Time to Repair (MTTR). CMMS metric tracking that includes both leading and lagging metrics are the most conducive to sparking continuous improvement.
For even more information on metrics that make a difference and have made implementations successful, check out eMaint’s white paper “Performance Metrics that Matter.”