Consider third-party involvement when looking to replace CMMS

To make sure the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) you choose has been thoroughly vetted before you sign the purchase order, consider a reputable third party to put it through a rigorous evaluation process first, in which the product’s capabilities are tested and verified against industry standards.

06/04/2014


Whether you’re shopping for a new maintenance management solution or replacing your incumbent system, there is no shortage of products out there to choose from. You scour the Internet, read product reviews, or ask for a recommendation. Once you’ve completed your search, you narrow down your choices to two or three candidates based on your requirements and sit in on product demonstrations to make your decision. Finally, you choose the winner.

But even after your due diligence, you’re still not home free. Implementation is taking longer than expected; equipment fields don’t match up to your information needs, adding documentation is limited, and your technicians say the system is too complicated and won’t close out their work orders.

To make sure the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) you choose has been thoroughly vetted before you sign the purchase order, consider a reputable third party to put it through a rigorous evaluation process first, in which the product’s capabilities are tested and verified against industry standards.

Some certification processes require a CMMS vendor to participate in a demanding and time-consuming (with some taking months or longer to complete) evaluation by the software research firm.

One of the leading enterprise software research firms that review CMMS products is an outfit called the Technology Education Center (TEC). TEC analyzes hundreds of vendors and thousands of enterprise software features before narrowing down the worthiest choices for its clients. For CMMS evaluations specifically, TEC analysts review more than 60 product features.

CMMS vendors start the process by filling out detailed evaluation forms and spreadsheets, answering hundreds of questions about the software architecture, user interface and feature sets down to detailed granularity, plus add-on solutions, mobile versions, training and support services, and more. Fundamental to a TEC review is the user interface and whether it lives up to the “ease-of-use” promise for navigating maintenance processes from each screen.

The vendors must demonstrate the CMMS’ inherent functionality for maintenance and inventory management, as well as integration with external processes. They must show the CMMS’ ability to automate real-world business processes chosen by the TEC analyst, and show how its functionality stands up to known CMMS benchmarks.

The vendor might be asked to start by creating a record for a particular asset, including all components and associated serial numbers, define PMs by time and condition-based monitoring, track asset maintenance costs, including planned and unplanned downtime, and run reports showing asset location, maintenance costs, uptime, longevity, and other options.

Analysts look at how easy is it to navigate the CMMS through all maintenance processes, i.e., do all screens have the same look and feel regardless of the process? How easy is it to configure assets, parts, PMs and work orders? Is the product simple enough to use for technicians with less computer experience?

They can look at the CMMS’ work order capabilities, i.e., work order detail, labor time detail, cost, etc., and whether the work order includes a reporting function with tasks flowing around the work order? Do work orders become the central source of information to help maintenance managers make decisions about capital expenditures, team productivity, and contractor costs?

TEC is just one of many software research firms available to maintenance operations teams. But by understanding the research process of a high-quality firm, you may be able to leverage their results, coupled with your own methods, to select the best solution for your maintenance organization.



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