Seven Decisions to Make Before You Look at CMMS Software

4th November 2011

I was talking with a colleague the other day, and she mentioned a client  who has been looking for CMMS software for years. This client calls her periodically to earnestly review previous conversations, get updates on the technology and current pricing, and then later goes away. They have developed a nice friendship over time and have pleasant conversations; but she’s not making any money and he’s not getting any maintenance done! Each is just wasting the other's time and both could be doing something more productive.

Before you get caught up in software demonstrations, evaluation software, demo CDs, trial accounts, price quotations, reference checks, and the like, you need to do your homework. These seven decisions need to be made before evaluating, and then choosing, a CMMS software package.

  1. Why? Do you really need, or want, a CMMS? There must be clearly identifiable problem(s) that having data or process management assistance will fix. These problems must be able to be articulated and agreed to all concerned. Set some goals. Separate out the needs and wants.
  2. When? When do you need to be fully implemented and meeting your goals? The fast part of this process is buying the software! Everything else takes time. Implementations can take anywhere from a week to a year or more, depending on their complexity.
  3. Who? Who are the stakeholders in this implementation? Whose workday, position, and/or job is going to be directly impacted by implementing a new or replacement CMMS? These people need to be involved as early as possible to get ‘buy in’ for the project.
  4. Deployment? Most all new software is browser based and can be deployed via the Internet (sometimes referred to as the cloud), or can be installed internal to your organization's intranet. Each has their own pluses and minuses. This decision has a direct relationship on the next one.
  5. Budget? Be sure you include training, support, and necessary hardware upgrades in your budget. Be honest with your future vendor from the get go. I find it better for organizations with a limited budget to invest more in training and services and less on the software. Once you are implemented and solving the problems identified first, you can add more features and functionality later.
  6. Purchase or rent? The acronym for renting software is SaaS. This option allows you to reduce your cost of entry and, in some cases, reduce the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for application software. Owning the program allows you to have some autonomy from the vendor. A standard software license agreement allows you to use the software without expiration after you purchase the license.
  7. Return on Investment? Your formula for ROI is something that should be developed before you do a software evaluation. Once you have determined your goals, you need to quantify them. Then you can determine the units and their costs. There are many ROI calculators available online for you to customize to your needs. Once you have this, you can plug in the costs associated with the software purchase and determine your ROI.

Not until you have these steps covered should you start to look at software. If you start the software search too soon, it will take too much time. If you purchase before you are ready, you will most likely buy software you don’t need or want.

Don’t use valuable time for you, your stakeholders, and your potential vendors to do the homework that should have been done first. When you have these steps taken care of, you will actually be able to narrow your choices of software and the process will be much more streamlined.

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