CMMS and EAM: What’s the Difference?

Maintenance departments are evolving with the help of advanced technologies. Sophisticated subscription-based tools from SaaS providers like Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) and Enterprise Asset Management software (EAM) are helping maintenance teams manage assets, monitor performance, and complete maintenance tasks with greater efficiency and precision.

Both CMMS platforms and enterprise asset management systems provide centralized platforms for managing work orders, tracking asset performance, scheduling preventive maintenance, and analyzing maintenance data across the entire asset lifecycle. As the discussion below will show, these systems have many features in common. However, we’ll also explore a few key differences between these asset management tools and why these differences matter for your maintenance team

What is a CMMS?

A CMMS is a software system designed to streamline maintenance management tasks by optimizing maintenance scheduling, asset lifecycle management, work order transmission, inventory management, and more.  

Purpose of CMMS software

The purpose of CMMS software is to centralize and organize maintenance-related information including work orders, asset details, repair schedules, and inventory management logistics. These features help improve resource allocation and distribution of labor for maintenance tasks, which can ultimately improve the efficiency of your maintenance department’s business processes and extend the life cycle of your company’s physical assets

Common features of CMMS software

You may be able to customize your CMMS software to meet your organization’s unique maintenance needs. However, most CMMS systems will have the following basic features in common:

  • Work order management so that you can streamline maintenance workflows by assigning tasks, scheduling work orders, and tracking task completion.
  • Asset management to track information on equipment, machinery, facilities, and other assets including maintenance history, warranties, lifecycle costs, and total cost of ownership.
  • Preventive maintenance tools like condition-based triggers for scheduling proactive maintenance tasks.
  • Spare parts and MRO inventory management features to enable optimization of inventory levels and ensure timely availability of spare parts to maximize efficiency. 
  • Reporting and analytics features, allowing you to leverage data-driven insights on work order completion, asset performance, and maintenance costs in order to maintain audit trails and identify opportunities for improvement.

CMMS software is a popular maintenance management solution because of its proven effectiveness at optimizing maintenance operations, improving asset performance, and minimizing downtime.

What is an EAM solution?

An Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) solution is a software-based system designed to optimize the value of an organization’s assets throughout their lifecycle. Asset management software allows users to more efficiently monitor, maintain, and repair equipment, facilities, vehicles, and other physical assets. EAM systems also help draw connections between asset performance and overall financial performance. 

Purpose of EAM software

The purpose of EAM software is to centralize asset-related data and processes. EAM systems provide organizations with a holistic view of their asset portfolio including details on performance, maintenance scheduling, and more. These insights can be used to improve strategic and financial decision making related to these assets. In particular, EAM software helps to minimize asset downtime, reduce maintenance costs, extend the lifespan of key assets, and ensure regulatory compliance.

Common features of EAM software

  • Asset registries for building a centralized database of all assets with comprehensive information on asset location, maintenance history, warranty details, routine inspection scheduling, and a host of other specifications.
  • Maintenance management tools so that you can incorporate the right mix of preventive, predictive and corrective maintenance into your overall strategy.
  • Work order management features, enabling you to streamline your maintenance workflow by automating task assignment, scheduling, and documentation.
  • Inventory management tools for tracking spare parts, materials, and resources in order to better manage inventory levels, reorder points, and procurement processes.
  • Asset performance monitoring capabilities for looking at metrics like Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) in order to analyze and optimize maintenance performance.

EAM solutions are particularly well-suited to businesses that rely heavily on physical assets to remain operational, productive, and legally compliant. The EAM platform is highly focused on the performance, protection, and optimization of your assets over the full course of their lifecycle from acquisition to decommissioning

CMMS vs. EAM: How do they differ? 

The fundamental difference between these maintenance solutions is their scope. CMMS solutions are primarily focused on improving asset uptime by optimizing maintenance strategies. EAM solutions are focused on managing the full asset lifecycle and are typically more all-encompassing platforms. 

These systems also differ, however, in a few other important ways, most particularly in their focus, functionality, and target users.  

Focus

CMMS platforms focus on maintenance-related tasks and activities, such as work order management, inventory control, and the deployment of preventive, predictive, or corrective maintenance strategies. CMMS software places an emphasis on optimizing maintenance operations and streamlining maintenance task assignment in order to reduce equipment downtime.

EAM platforms are broader in scope, with a focus that goes beyond maintenance to include features like asset tracking, performance monitoring, lifecycle management, and financial asset management.

Functionality

CMMS platforms perform and streamline a variety of maintenance functions including task assignment, real-time work order tracking, inventory management, and proactive maintenance scheduling.

EAM systems control, monitor, and measure asset performance with functions like enhanced financial planning for the entirety of an asset’s life cycle, optimized asset workflow configuration, and ongoing performance analysis.

Target users

CMMS solutions are usually most beneficial to organizations with a strong emphasis on maintenance operations, such as manufacturing plants, utilities, and service providers. Maintenance technicians and facility supervisors are among the most likely to utilize CMMS systems

EAM solutions are most beneficial to large organizations managing a diverse portfolio of assets, including manufacturing companies, transportation agencies, and large-scale infrastructure projects. Asset managers, financial controllers, and operations managers are among the most likely to utilize EAM systems.

Choosing between CMMS and EAM solutions

CMMS and EAM systems clearly have a number of features in common. Either system can help your business improve in areas like work order management, inventory management, and regulatory compliance.

However, if you are choosing between these two options, consider the scope of your needs and the role that your physical assets play in your organization’s productivity and profitability. 

Benefits of CMMS and EAM platforms

CMMS and EAM platforms offer a number of common benefits, as well as a number of benefits which are exclusive to each asset management solution. Below, let’s take a closer look at both the shared and individual benefits of each option.

Common benefits of CMMS and EAM platforms

  • Improved maintenance efficiency through streamlined maintenance processes, optimized task assignment, and automated work order management.
  • Enhanced asset reliability through asset tracking, performance monitoring, and preventive maintenance scheduling.
  • Optimized resource utilization through more strategic allocation of labor, materials, and equipment.
  • Heightened accountability through more robust regulatory compliance, alignment with industry best practices, and adherence to internal policies.
  • Data-driven decision making through advanced reporting, analytics, and monitoring of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Unique benefits of CMMS software

Below are some of the benefits unique to CMMS software solutions:

  • Easy implementation: With the right team and tools in place, you can adopt CMMS platforms quickly to see performance improvements and a positive return on investment
  • Cost savings: CMMS platforms optimize your maintenance operations and reduce the downtime of your physical assets without the added complexity and costs of an EAM system.
  • Workflow improvement: CMMS tools promote optimal distribution of maintenance labor and activities by tailoring work order management, preventive maintenance scheduling, and spare parts inventory management to your organization’s needs.

Unique Benefits of EAM Software

Below are some of the benefits unique to EAM software solutions:

  • Holistic asset management: EAM tools perform a wide range of asset-related functions including asset tracking, lifecycle management, and financial asset management.
  • Scalability and flexibility: These tools accommodate the complex needs of large enterprises and asset-intensive industries with high adaptability, and customization.
  • Systems compatibility: EAM software typically integrates seamlessly with other platforms such as ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems, financial systems, and project management software.

CMMS and EAM use cases

Below are a few industry-specific examples of how organizations utilize CMMS and EAM solutions:

CMMS use cases

  • Manufacturing: Scheduling preventive maintenance for production equipment, tracking work orders for machine repairs, managing spare parts inventory, and monitoring equipment downtime
  • Healthcare: Managing maintenance tasks for medical equipment, facilities, and infrastructure. 
  • Property Management: Overseeing maintenance activities for commercial buildings, scheduling preventive maintenance (i.e. HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical systems, etc.), and managing vendor contracts.

EAM use cases

  • Oil and Gas: Managing a network of drilling rigs, pipelines, refineries, and storage facilities with asset performance tracking, preventive maintenance scheduling, and regulatory compliance management.
  • Water Utilities: Managing water treatment plants, pumping stations, distribution networks, and infrastructure assets with predictive maintenance and automation of maintenance scheduling.
  • Municipal Government: Managing public infrastructure assets, including roads, bridges, buildings, parks, and utilities by enabling agencies to prioritize infrastructure investments, plan capital projects, track asset condition, and optimize maintenance budgets.

Other common maintenance management systems

Tech-enabled maintenance teams may use a variety of platforms either in lieu of, or in addition to, CMMS and EAM systems, including ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), CAFM (Computer-Aided Facility Management), and fleet management software.

Below, we take a closer look at how these tools compare or relate to CMMS and EAM systems.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)

ERP systems integrate a variety of business functions including accounting, human resources, and supply chain management. This differs from the focus of CMM and EAM systems, which are primarily designed for maintenance and asset management respectively. 

ERPs perform a distinct function from CMMS and EAM solutions, and therefore are more likely to integrate with, rather than stand in for, these systems. Your business may be able to improve the automation of workflow, tracking of maintenance activities, and regulatory compliance efforts by promoting seamless data exchange between your ERP and your chosen asset management solution. 

CAFM (Computer-Aided Facility Management)

CAFM platforms specialize in managing facilities, factories, warehouses, and workplace environments. This type of solution typically includes features related to space planning, lease management, and facility utilization tracking. 

While maintenance departments and technicians are most likely to use CMMS or EAM systems, CAFM platforms are more commonly used among facility managers and commercial developers.

Fleet Management Software

Fleet management software is designed to facilitate the management of vehicles, driver performance, and transportation logistics. Additional features may include vehicle tracking, fuel management, and route optimization.

In contrast to the asset and maintenance roles performed by CMMS and EAM platforms, fleet management software is typically utilized by logistics professionals, fleet managers and transportation companies to monitor, track, and streamline the use of vehicular assets.

Best practices for getting the most from your maintenance solutions

For maximum return on investment (ROI) from your CMMS and EAM solutions, we encourage you to consider some of the following best practices:

  • Define clear objectives including asset maintenance goals and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • Clean up your data by migrating your existing maintenance data to your new CMMS or EAM system while eliminating errors as well as outdated or duplicate data.
  • Train team members to use the CMMS or EAM platform effectively and promote adoption by demonstrating the system’s benefits.
  • Standardize processes by establishing clear and consistent procedures for work order management, preventive maintenance scheduling, and asset tracking.
  • Introduce standard documents like preventive maintenance checklists to ensure technicians can efficiently and effectively ensure a job well done. 
  • Regularly review and analyze maintenance data and performance metrics in order to identify areas for continuous improvement. 
  • Integrate with other systems such as ERP, CAFP, IoT tools, or fleet management platforms, in order to streamline data exchange and improve compatibility between modules and systems.
  • Download the Ultimate Guide to CMMS for more in-depth guidance on how to choose the best maintenance management software for your business.

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