CMMS Implementation Guide: Timeline, Steps, Challenges and Best Practices

A Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is a software-based solution designed to improve your organization’s maintenance operations and approach to asset management. CMMS software streamline tasks like work order management, preventive maintenance scheduling, and inventory management. The right CMMS solution can help optimize your organization’s maintenance strategies, improve your allocation of resources, and reduce asset downtime.

However, before your organization can take advantage of maintenance management software, you’ll need to have several elements in place. You can lay the groundwork for successful CMMS implementation by ensuring that your organization has: 

  • Well-defined maintenance processes
  • Access to accurate and up-to-date data on your physical assets
  • A well-staffed maintenance team including skilled project managers, operators, and technicians
  • Effective employee training procedures and templates for essential documents
  • The capacity for integration with existing systems 
  • Strong buy-in from personnel at every level of your organization

Why do maintenance teams use CMMS platforms? 

Maintenance teams use CMMS platforms for a variety of reasons including improved insights into equipment performance, enhanced data visibility, streamlined maintenance workflows, significant cost savings, and more. 

Enhanced equipment performance

CMMS tools can offer features for preventive maintenance scheduling, predictive maintenance analytics, and ongoing condition monitoring in order to gain deeper insight into equipment performance. These features allow for proactive maintenance activities, which ultimately help reduce the likelihood of equipment breakdowns, minimize downtime, and extend the lifespan of valuable physical assets.

Improved data visibility

CMMS software solutions offer a centralized repository for maintenance-related data. A CMMS can consolidate actionable data on asset specifications, work orders, maintenance history, and spare parts inventory all in one place. Enhanced data visibility means that both your maintenance team and management core can access critical information, prioritize maintenance tasks, and track these tasks to their completion through a single, user-friendly interface.

Streamlined workflows

CMMS software provides valuable organizational features, helping businesses automate and streamline maintenance workflows with features for work order generation, task assignment, and project tracking. 

Optimized spare parts inventory management

CMMS software may be used to track usage of spare parts during the performance of maintenance activities, as well as reordering levels, stock locations, and procurement costs. An effective CMMS platform ensures that you neither carry an excess of spare parts in your inventory nor risk shortages of key parts that lead to prolonged downtime.

Compliance management 

CMMS tools help maintenance teams ensure regulatory compliance, promote adherence to safety standards, and always guarantee alignment with industry best practices for safe maintenance and facility management. CMMS software solutions typically perform functions like keeping accurate maintenance records, tracking inspections, and scheduling preventive maintenance tasks, all of which improve workplace safety and reduce the risk of non-compliance.

Data-driven decision making 

Maintenance teams rely on CMMS platforms for insights into their maintenance data. CMMS platforms typically provide comprehensive reporting and analytics on team and asset performance. By analyzing maintenance data, trends, and performance metrics against key performance indicators (KPIs), maintenance teams gain the insights needed to identify areas for improvement. The result is a data-driven approach to optimizing organizational maintenance strategies.

4 phases of CMMS implementation

In order for your organization to succeed at adopting and integrating a CMMS solution into your maintenance strategy, it is critical that you take a thoughtful, step-by-step approach to implementation. CMMS implementation can essentially be broken down into 4 phases, each of which includes several important implementation steps

Phase 1: Preparation and planning

The process of CMMS implementation begins with comprehensive preparation and planning. These steps are critical to identifying project goals, avoiding delays, and preemptively reducing the risk of implementation failure

  1. Create a rough timeline, outlining expected dates of completion for each phase of the implementation plan.
  2. Schedule a consultation with your CMMS provider in order to gather information about the implementation process including clarity about timelines, roles, responsibilities, and benchmarks
  3. Ensure that your hardware and existing software systems are compatible with your chosen CMMS solution. This may require evaluating your bandwidth for cloud-based systems or organizing technical alignment meetings to facilitate on-premise installations. At this stage, engage your IT department in the process.
  4. Create an implementation task force, bringing together a dedicated team of key stakeholders from various departments including IT, engineering, finance, maintenance, and facilities management.

Phase 2: Data gathering

Your implementation task force will take the lead role in defining and gathering the data that will be needed to power the CMMS. The quality of your initial data inputs will play an important role in guiding implementation.

  1. Begin by gathering and entering data on your organization’s key physical assets as well as its inventory of spare parts.
  2. Subsequently gather your intended inputs on secondary equipment, vendors, MRO (maintenance, repair, and operation) inventory, and other relevant information.
  3. Standardize data entry procedures and data formats, creating norms for hierarchy, naming conventions, and field requirements in anticipation of data migration.

Phase 3: Product implementation

The implementation phase includes configuration, asset migration, and training. Before diving into implementation, begin this phase by bringing together your CMMS provider, implementation task force and maintenance team for a kickoff meeting. Use this as an opportunity to define goals, align expectations, and clarify roles. 

You can also use this kickoff meeting to plot out the following steps toward implementation. 

  1. Set up basic system configurations (i.e. defining user roles, formatting clock, setting default currency, etc.).
  2. Upload assets based on established data requirements and data gathering efforts.
  3. Build your work request portal and create the forms that will be used to trigger work order management processes.
  4. Merge your assets with your system’s preferred tracking system (i.e. ticketing, barcodes, QR codes, etc.).
  5. Conduct comprehensive training to ease adoption for technicians and senior maintenance personnel.
  6. Create preventive maintenance schedules based on the assets you’ve loaded into the CMMS.
  7. Initiate parts inventory management by creating minimum and maximum stock holding thresholds and defining automatic reorder points. 
  8. Designate personnel to address remaining data entry tasks, including data on parts, assets, supplier information, historical maintenance data, and user manuals.

Phase 4: Post-implementation management

The ongoing success of your CMMS implementation depends on continuous monitoring and improvement. 

  1. Conduct weekly audits on your new CMMS system in order to identify emerging issues and correct course before these issues can cause delays, disrupt workflows, or lower morale.  
  2. Appoint system champions to assist staff members who are struggling to adjust to the new system, the use of mobile applications, or shifting workflows
  3. Optimize your CMMS system dashboard and reporting functions according to your KPIs in order to track maintenance performance, asset data, and workflows on a single user-friendly interface
  4. Solicit feedback from your team members on the new CMMS platform. Use your findings to identify areas for continuous improvement.

5 reasons CMMS implementations fail 

CMMS implementations can fail for a variety of reasons including internal resistance, poor planning, and inadequate training. Implementation failure can be costly and disruptive. It’s important to identify, anticipate, and address these issues before they can derail your CMMS implementation process.

  1. Internal resistance: This is the number one challenge to implementation. Employees often demonstrate resistance to new technology. This resistance may be rooted in fear of job loss, difficulty using the technology, or a poor understanding of its benefits. It’s important to establish buy-in from key stakeholders including frontline workers and members of your maintenance team. Otherwise internal resistance could delay, derail or entirely dismantle the implementation process. Make sure you emphasize the potential return on investment of implementing a CMMS platform to build a compelling business case for new software and inspire user adoption.  
  2. Insufficient planning and preparation: The preliminary phase of CMMS is critical to the long-term success of implementation. Effective implementation of new systems requires a thorough assessment of existing systems, as well as exhaustive data gathering, and thoughtful estimation of the timeline and cost for completion. Failure to complete these important steps can preface implementation failure
  3. Difficulty with data gathering, entry, and migration: Accurate and reliable data are essential to effective CMMS implementation. Incomplete, inaccurate, or outdated data can prevent your CMMS from effectively optimizing your maintenance operations. Poor data quality can compromise decision making, promote unreliable maintenance scheduling, and lead to inefficient workflows, all of which may indicate failed CMMS implementation.
  4. Inadequate CMMS training and support: Your organization’s end users are essential to the success of CMMS implementation. The effectiveness of your training and support strategies will be critical as your personnel learn how to leverage the new CMMS to its maximumits potential. Without proper training, personnel may face frustration during and after the implementation phase. This can diminish buy-in, negatively impact morale, and ultimately impede effective implementation.
  5. Technical difficulties: CMMS implementation often fails due to incompatibility between organizations and their chosen CMMS vendors. Choosing a vendor or CMMS solution that falls short of your organization’s needs can set your implementation up for failure from the start. This is why it’s so critical to thoroughly evaluate potential vendors for experience, expertise, and alignment with your needs before committing to a CMMS provider

6 tips for a successful CMMS implementation

You can mitigate the risk of implementation failure by taking steps to prepare for common implementation challenges. Below, we offer tips for achieving success in your CMMS implementation.

  1. Define clear objectives, identifying key performance indicators (KPIs) such as equipment uptime, maintenance cost reduction, and inventory management efficiency.
  2. Involve key stakeholders from across the organization, including maintenance technicians, managers, IT staff, and end users to ensure maximum buy-in at every level of your organization.
  3. Conduct hands-on training so that end users know how to use the CMMS software effectively, easily, and to the fullest extent of its capabilities.
  4. Clean up your data by organizing existing maintenance data, removing duplicate data, standardizing formats, and verifying the accuracy of asset information.
  5. Customize your CMMS software to fit your organization’s specific needs by tailoring fields, forms, and workflows to match your existing processes.
  6. Continuously monitor your progress by tracking key metrics and soliciting feedback from users. Leverage your findings to assess the success of your CMMS implementation, identify areas for improvement, and make adjustments as needed.

Learn more about implementing a CMMS for the next generation of maintenance

CMMS implementation is helping a growing number of organizations modernize and enhance their maintenance operations. CMMS platforms are also becoming increasingly sophisticated, powerful, and user friendly.

If you are considering implementing a CMMS platform for your organization, we recommend downloading our free CMMS Buyer’s Guide for deeper insights into the features, benefits, and best practices associated with CMMS implementation.

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