Can Purchasing a CMMS Save You Money?

The answer is “NO”.  Computerized Maintenance Management Software (CMMS) on its own cannot save you money, regardless of what anyone says.  The value of any tool is not which one you purchase, but how you intend to use it and getting people to use it the way you intend.

Don’t get me wrong, the key features of facility maintenance software are important, but even more important is the “usability” of the system for everyone on your staff.  Many people compare features and purchase a system within their budget that has the most “bells and whistles”.  This can be a counter-productive decision, since most of the features that look enticing can be too time consuming or difficult for average employees.

To get the most from your CMMS acquisition, you need to minimize waste in all of its forms.  Unfortunately, far too few companies focus intently on efficiency of the work processes while making a purchasing decision.

What to Consider When Buying a CMMS

There are basically three approaches to making good use of your CMMS:

  1. Choose a simple system has a pre-built work process with few selections, but the work process is as basic as practical.
  2. Choose a flexible system comes with multiple selectable work processes so you can choose the one that fits your team best.
  3. A third option is a hybrid of flexible and simple.  There are just a few systems that incorporate the best of both processes without significant compromises.

You might think from the description above that “choose door #3” is best, but the only right solution is the one everyone on your staff will use effectively.

Why Choose a Simple System?

If you don’t need to record the amount of time worked, the cost for performing service, or track billable work, then a simple system is probably the right fit.  Many people just want a simple schedule for Preventive Maintenance and the ability to manage any Service Requests they receive without much documentation.

If you are used to using spreadsheets and paper documents to perform work, then this might be the right type of system to consider.

What you get:  Low Implementation Cost, Low System Cost, Easy Training, Low Management Oversight, Low System Maintenance Cost, Low User Man Hours

What you give up:  Cost Control, Equipment Condition Details, Comprehensive Equipment History, Billable Work Tracking

Why Choose a Flexible System?

If you are managing a large facility, or a large group of buildings within a facility, then you probably want to track many aspects of any work that happens.  If strong cost control, comprehensive equipment history, and billing control are a top priority, then this may be the best choice.

What you get:  Full Cost Control, Comprehensive Equipment History, Custom Fit Work Process, Full Billable Work Tracking

What you give up:  $$$$ Implementation Cost, $$$$ System Cost, $$$$ Training Regiment, $$$ Management Oversight, $$$ System Maintenance Cost, $$$ User Man Hours

Why Choose a Hybrid System?

Most facilities fall in between simple and complex needs.  They want to have a blend of control, ease of use, and low cost.  If you are experienced with flexible systems, and find that they have more features than you can actually use, then a hybrid may be the best choice.

What you get:  Affordable Implementation Cost, Affordable System Cost, Moderate Training Regiment, Full Cost Control, Detailed Equipment History, Optimized Work Process, Full Billable Work Tracking

What you give up:  $$ Management Oversight, $$ System Maintenance Cost, $$ User Man Hours

Major Features of All CMMS Software

CMMS systems have four major functions to optimize work performance:

  1. Work Management:  Basically this covers preventive maintenance, which is a key to well balanced operation.  But it does not end there as it also contains employee scheduling.  Employee scheduling automates the whole process so that it makes it easy to adjust schedules.  This feature also has other functions including service request management, and employee work performance tracking.  For some organizations, this single feature is sufficient, but others require a little more.
  2. Quality Management:  Sometimes, it is not enough to monitor and automate work management, you need to evaluate performance to save money.  This might mean enforcing healthy work habits, but it also covers automatically scheduled corrective and preventive action planning.
  3. Employee Management:  Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, but if not managed well, they can waste a lot of money.  Tracking the training, work history, work performance, and attitude of your staff can increase accountability.
  4. Inventory Management:  Often this component is overlooked, but to avoid work delays and minimize downtime, effective inventory management is a core function of any facility.  Most systems can automate the budgeting, track the lead time of key parts, and also help you minimize waste with frequently consumed supplies.

Using each of these features effectively is essential to a successful organization.  Getting the most from your CMMS can be thought of as a systematic process with defined outcomes.