CMMS Reliability

Plan For CMMS Success

EP Editorial Staff | June 1, 2023

Preparation at the pilot-plant level will establish a foundation for effective CMMS implementation.

By Gregory Perry,

In today’s plants, cloud-based computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) software has become a vital tool to schedule, plan, manage, and track maintenance activities. CMMS has significant benefits for large enterprises because it can standardize operations across many global sites, delivering efficiency, cost savings, and greater visibility, while simultaneously easing the audit process. However, implementing a new CMMS can be daunting, especially if you manage multiple sites.

Success in these multi-site implementations depends on getting things right with the pilot plant. Don’t start by implementing a new CMMS across all locations. Begin with a pilot plant that has a visionary staff who are committed to building the right configuration for their team’s needs. Once that site has proven its success, the cloud-based software can be quickly deployed at other locations and staff members trained on its use.

Experts estimate as many as 80% of CMMS implementations fail to meet expectations. This is often due to a lack of planning and preparation. CMMS solutions also often fail as the novelty of implementation wears away and the spotlight moves to other projects.

Implementation Failure

Many organizations mistake a CMMS implementation for a technology project. In large implementations, a great deal of time, sometimes as much as a year or more, can be required to make sure the software meets specific criteria. Selecting the correct software is key. However, CMMS projects typically face greater hurdles with preparation and change management than technology.

Many organizations fail at project and change management because they don’t have comprehensive project plans. The plan must be documented, followed, and used to track and analyze progress. Implementations also fail because teams are not held responsible for their tasks or accountable for the results.

Lack of future vision is another reason why implementations falter. When it comes to change management, a team needs developed goals and a vision of how maintenance will function with the new CMMS fully implemented. It’s 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.

For example, one major manufacturing services company needed a new CMMS to yield important data regarding decisions around their KPIs, such as uptime percentages. As soon as their implementation was completed, they began seeing useful, accurate data to help them improve their return on investment. However, they couldn’t fully leverage this data right away because they hadn’t incorporated it into the implementation plan. They had to develop a new standard to utilize the data.

Successful implementations

Whether you’re deploying an enterprise asset management (EAM) system or CMMS software, implementations should be 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.

Developing these goals and a well-rounded implementation plan is a 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. 

Most successful implementations incorporate:

• a defining phase to develop pertinent data standards, ensuring consistent data collection
• the knowledge of an experienced CMMS implementer
• a defined initial implementation period to gauge where an organization is, where it’s going, and what’s next.

For example, one health-product manufacturer implemented a CMMS with aggressive growth goals in mind. Their maintenance manager interviewed technicians, collected foundational data, and developed a vision statement for where the company wanted to be in five years. Then, they populated CMMS dashboards with these goals and consistently provided updates.

This approach to implementation and deployment serves as a lesson for any company with similar growth goals. Identifying employee pain points 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.  

Project and change management, coupled with a clear vision of future needs are key to sustained effectiveness of a CMMS project. Courtesy Fluke Corp.

Provide training

In addition to laying out objectives, it is equally critical to provide comprehensive CMMS training for end users, and to create a cross-functional implementation team. With effective CMMS training, users learn to perform functions correctly, eliminating time-consuming trial and error and saving time spent in the system to allow 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.

For example, one global nutrition company set out to find a new CMMS as they were preparing for a large manufacturing expansion into a new facility. Best practices were at the heart of the company’s implementation approach.

Their CMMS administrator and the rest of the maintenance management team carefully selected a high-performance work team to champion the project. The team included a strong mix of maintenance experts. From the start of implementation, the company invested in training to ensure they could leverage what they were learning.

Once your staff is trained, it’s time to roll out the system. This involves migrating your data into the new CMMS, configuring the system to meet specific needs, and testing to ensure that it’s functioning correctly. It’s important to take a phased approach to the roll-out, starting with a pilot site and gradually expanding to additional sites. This will help ensure that any issues are identified and resolved before the system is fully deployed.

This step can be the easy part or the hard part, depending on how previous decisions played out. It’s key to be sure in advance that you’re working with a CMMS provider focused on multi-site implementations. If you have, this part of the rollout is primarily about training team members at sites around the world and identifying local champions.

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 make continuous adjustments. Establishing success metrics in the beginning, along with a team responsible for a continual review process, is a key to continuous improvement and successful implementation.

Project champions should focus on questions such as:

• What data or reports would make your life easier?
• What information does your boss consistently request?
• 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. 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 leading and lagging metrics is the most conducive to sparking continuous improvement.

Implementing a new CMMS and expanding to multiple sites can be a challenging process, but it’s also a critical step in improving your maintenance management and business performance. By following these steps and working closely with your staff and stakeholders, you can successfully implement a new CMMS and achieve your maintenance goals. EP

Gregory Perry is a Senior Capacity Assurance Consultant with, part of the Fluke Reliability family (Fluke Corp. Everette, WA, He is a Certified Reliability Leader (CRL) and Certified Maintenance Reliability Professional (CMRP) with nearly two decades of experience in maintenance and operational best practices.


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