Improve CMMS implementation in 10 ways

Computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) implementation doesn’t have to be complex if you follow these 10 steps. Standard procedures, new technologies, and performance metrics can ease the path to condition-based maintenance.

By Mark T. Hoske May 8, 2017

Implementing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can be easier and more effective by taking 10 steps. When shifting toward condition-based maintenance, hardware and software also can help, as can defining and using standard operating procedures (SOPs) and the right set of performance metrics. This advice was given by experts at the Fluke Roadshow 2017 held in Chicago May 4th.

Covering the 10 steps to CMMS implementation success, Bill Green, leader of implementation and success, eMaint (a Fluke company), said that even after a CMMS installation, evaluation and improvements should be a continuous process with input from all involved (See Fig. 1). Green’s 10 steps for smarter CMMS implementation are:

10 steps of CMMS implementation:

1. Choose a cross-functional implementation team, including executives to approve or provide funding, maintenance (a champion and the future system administrator), project leaders (a manager to keep things on track and an analyst to gather requirements), subject matter experts (to define how the system is used), IT staff (to provide a system environment), and implementation consultants (to provide expertise).

2. Familiarize the core team: A professional services team can provide upfront training to the core team, especially with training, a framework, experts, and involving future trainers. Those doing the training should know the software details, even if the software is known to be intuitive. Online and in-person training may be available.

3. Develop (or standardize and document) workflow processes. Look at the current business and SOPs—even if they’re not documented—then apply process improvements and create a CMMS workflow using the new business processes. Define maintenance coding (such as work order classes, types, priorities, problems, actions, and failure codes), workflow procedures and who is responsible for what, and define hierarchies (assets, criticalities, and locations).

4. Establish or update agreed-upon SOPs (see above).

5. Prioritize the implementation, looking at the CMMS implementing process. Tackle low-hanging fruit first with a focus on critical data. Leverage experiences of a seasoned CMMS implementer, learn from colleagues, and define the implementation timeline.

6. Work on the configuration. Look at forms, fields, dropdowns, and tabled data derived from standards that were defined in the implementation phase and documented in SOPs. It’s important to differentiate the users of the system versus the users of data from the system and ensure data entry is consistent with established standards. For instance, maintenance and operations personnel might use different words to refer to the same things. Standard terms must be agreed upon.

7. Populate and validate data. Having the right amount of good quality data is critical for success of a CMMS implementation. All data that goes in needs to be maintained, and all maintained data needs to go into the system. Thoroughly test established processes and procedures developed to support the maintenance function. Data collection can be seen as a service. Use available import tools rather than manually transferring data.

8. Train the main users. This critical step is to ensure investments follows the trainer’s training. The person doing the training needs to be proficient in the software and in soft skills such as communication and organization.

9. Develop a go-live strategy, with support and coaching. This may include soft go-live dates for certain areas of the CMMS. Depending on the organization and implementation, bite-sized chunks or a series of continuous improvement projects may be the best way. Highlight implementation milestones. If there is a hard go-live date, create a plan B to lower the risk of data loss or production delays.

10. Establish a process auditing system for continuous improvement. Use intelligence from the CMMS to drive decisions and make continuous adjustments. Define success metrics from the start. Establish a team responsible for continuous improvements, incorporating the cycle of plan, do, check, act and repeat. 

Choose the right metrics

Choosing the right maintenance-related metrics can help drive proactive decisions, moving away from reactive maintenance, where it makes sense, Green explained.

Establishing key metrics, sometimes called key performance indicators (KPIs), can help companies understand where they are on the best practices ladder, against historical performance, company goals, or world class metrics. Quantitative metrics compare goals and qualitative measure against world-class maintenance practices.

Leading performance indicators include preventive maintenance drivers related to time and estimates versus actual values. Lagging indicators can include mean time between failure (MTBF), mean time to repair (MTTR), mean time between inspection (MTBI), and other values. See Figure 2.

Choose metrics with end goals in mind, Green advised. Managing buildings and managing equipment for product manufacturing can use the same software and may look at some of the same equipment, but goals and metrics for success may differ.

Questions to consider might include the following, Green suggested.

  • Which data or reports would make life easier?
  • Which information does your boss ask for? What’s your current preventive maintenance (PM) to corrective maintenance (CM) ratio? (1:4 is world class.)
  • What type of PM to CM ratio does your business need? (For some applications, run to fail may work just fine.)
  • What are your current maintenance budget busters? Is it better to inventory or overnight parts? What is your on-time PM performance or compliance?

The saying goes, Green noted, "Measure what you treasure." Doing so can reduce costs, failures, and downtime, while increasing work identification and work planning.

KPI clean up

To get clean numbers for tracking and properly rewarding KPIs, ensure data integrity. One area is to sift through any maintenance backlog, differentiating among planned, unplanned, not completed, and "that project was from years ago; we’ll never do that."

PM compliance is work performed on equipment on a predetermined schedule based on elapsed time or usage to lessen the likelihood of failure; 10% is world class.

Another measurement is percentage of maintenance hours spent on planned maintenance activities versus unplanned. 

Condition-based maintenance

Predictive maintenance activities are improving, but most companies have a long way to go. A lot of maintenance remains reactive, said Alex Desselle, a Fluke product application specialist whose career includes work with Monsanto and GE.

From best to worst, consider:

  1. Reliability centered maintenance,
  2. Predictive,
  3. Condition-based,
  4. Preventive, and 
  5. Reactive. 

PM data can incorporate control system data, but other information also is needed. Edge devices can do computations on the spot. In migrating to more proactive activities, focus on failure modes and prioritize, get buy-in from leadership on where to invest, select technologies with wireless capabilities to help, and enhance skills to increase maintenance core competencies.

Desselle said it’s important to know what good looks like, visually detect changes, and investigate what’s going on, looking at the baseline, trending, and analysis.

Baseline charts can be stable, descending, ascending, and variable. (With variable curves, statistical process control can determine if the baseline is off over time.)

Tools that can help include infrared inspections and vibration testing, looking at information consistently over time. 

Wireless maintenance tools

Connected tools for maintenance professionals can help commercial and industrial teams with implementations, moving from reactive to condition-based monitoring, suggested Dave Robley, a field engineer for Fluke Industrial. Measuring and monitoring tools with wireless capabilities lower risk and save time by reducing exposure to areas requiring personal protective equipment (PPE), and enhance productivity by data sharing, analysis, and providing storage tools.

Wireless connectivity is available in more than 40 tools, covering infrared cameras, clamp meters, digital multimeters, vibration monitoring (see Figure 3), portable oscilloscopes, power quality analyzers, power and energy loggers, thermometers, process calibrator, insulation testers, and related accessories. 

Maintain persistence

Attitudes are changing about Big Data awareness and asset reliability, which is not a maintenance thing, but an "everybody thing," according to Jeff Shiver, CMRP, and a founder of People and Processes, a consulting and training group.

While barriers include technology, software, costs, and people, work to transform the culture, Shiver said. Keep the improvements visible to people through internal marketing. Be patient and persistent, Shiver suggested; it can take three to five years to transform the culture.

Mark T. Hoske is content manager, Control Engineering, CFE Media,


Key concepts

  • Successful CMMS implementation requires choosing the right team, having standard operating procedures, and choosing the right metrics.
  • It’s advantageous to move more toward reliability-based maintenance and away from reactive maintenance.
  • Tools such as wireless monitoring and cloud-based CMMS can help.

Consider this

If your maintenance activities aren’t where they should be, are you developing a plan and getting the buy-in needed to get there?

ONLINE extra

Build a maintenance schedule in six steps, a Plant Engineering article.

For more on products to help enable better maintenance practices, see the following announcements:

Open cloud platform for connecting equipment, critical plant systems 

Power quality and motor analyzer 

Author Bio: Mark Hoske has been Control Engineering editor/content manager since 1994 and in a leadership role since 1999, covering all major areas: control systems, networking and information systems, control equipment and energy, and system integration, everything that comprises or facilitates the control loop. He has been writing about technology since 1987, writing professionally since 1982, and has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism degree from UW-Madison.