How to Choose a CMMS Software

Maintenance teams are most effective when they can focus on maintenance work rather than paperwork and documentation. The right CMMS for your maintenance team will ease their administrative burden, facilitate continuous improvement, and empower maintenance professionals to do their best work. 

But with so many systems to choose from — and so many CMMS benefits to be gained — it is an important choice to get right. Here is how to do it.

Step 1: Form a CMMS selection team

The first step is to assemble a group of internal stakeholders to guide CMMS research, testing, and selection. This should be a cross-functional team of subject-matter experts and department leaders. Depending on your organization, it may include:

  • Maintenance managers
  • Maintenance supervisors, technicians, and other end users
  • Operations Manager
  • IT personnel

This group may vary depending on the size and complexity of your organization. Define the roles and responsibilities, and appoint a project leader to manage timelines and drive the process forward.

This collaborative approach will ensure that the final decision aligns with the organization’s goals and meets the requirements of all impacted areas of your business.

Step 2: Conduct a needs assessment

Before you begin researching solutions, you must first know what you are looking for. Identifying your organization’s needs will help keep you focused on finding solutions to your most critical challenges.

To complete this step, ask yourself and your selection team the following questions:

  • What is the primary need we will use the CMMS to address? 
  • Do you want cloud-based or on-premise implementation? Most organizations today opt for a cloud-based implementation because of the lower upfront costs, easier implementation process, and automated software updates. The exceptions are organizations with a strict policy to keep their data on internal company servers.
  • Will my team use a CMMS on their mobile devices? If so, you need a mobile-friendly CMMS app that will run smoothly on both Android and Apple devices.
  • Does the CMMS support languages we need? 
  • Which maintenance strategy will my organization run? Advanced maintenance strategies like condition-based maintenance (CBM), predictive maintenance (PdM), and prescriptive maintenance (RxM) will require a CMMS that can integrate with condition monitoring sensors and assist with predictive analytics. 
  • What is my budget? Define how much you’re willing to invest in maintenance software on a monthly/yearly basis.

By walking into the process prepared with answers to these questions, you’ll have the information you need to begin narrowing down the list of potential systems

Step 3: Research CMMS options that align with your needs

Once you have thoroughly evaluated the type of solution you will need, begin researching CMMS software. This can be as simple as a Google search, but if you would like to start with a little more direction, popular software review sites like G2, Capterra, and SelectHub are useful resources.

In addition to your organization’s unique needs identified in the first step, there are a few key considerations that should always be included in any software search, regardless of the platform’s use or purpose. These considerations will ensure you achieve a baseline of quality in any software you choose: 

Usability 

The best way to maximize user adoption and productivity is to implement software that is easy to learn and use.

There are several ways to evaluate the usability of a CMMS solution: 

  • User interface (UI): The UI should be visually appealing, well-organized, and easy to navigate. 
  • Layout: Look for features such as a clean layout, logical menu structure, and intuitive icons that make interaction with the system feel effortless.
  • Ease-of-use: Pay close attention to the simplicity of performing common tasks. Evaluate the time or number of clicks required to create work orders, schedule maintenance tasks, or generate reports.
  • Training: Look at the availability of training resources, such as user manuals, video tutorials, or onboarding sessions.

A user-friendly CMMS will allow users to quickly and accurately perform day-to-day activities without the need for extensive training.

Customizability 

Customizability allows you to adapt CMMS software to your unique applications rather than forcing you to adjust your workflows to within the system’s parameters.

A highly customizable CMMS will let you:

  • Configure existing fields, forms, and user roles
  • Create unlimited custom fields
  • Create custom templates (WO templates, PM checklists, etc.) 
  • Configure approval workflows and manage user access
  • Create custom dashboards and reports

By prioritizing customizability, you can choose a CMMS that adapts to your organization’s specific maintenance needs. This creates an environment where technicians are excited to use the software because it makes their daily lives a whole lot easier.   

Implementation 

A smooth and successful implementation lays the foundation for a great software experience.

Your CMMS vendor should be there for you every step of the way — from project planning and data migration to software configuration and system setup. They should offer comprehensive training resources including user manuals and personalized onboarding sessions to facilitate a smooth transition for your team.

Strong customer support is closely aligned with a solid implementation process for most vendors. The quality of one can tell you a lot about the quality of the other.

Customer support 

Responsive customer support ensures timely assistance when you encounter issues or have questions during the implementation process or day-to-day use. Prompt and effective support helps you minimize downtime by quickly resolving any software-related challenges. 

The level of support varies from vendor to vendor, and can also change depending on your pricing plan. Here are some questions to ask in the selection process to evaluate customer support. 

  • How is customer support offered? Is there a dedicated representative for our account or around-the-clock service? 
  • What is the typical wait time for support requests?
  • What communication methods are used for customer support (email, phone, chat, etc)?

Take time to investigate the vendor’s reputation for post-implementation support. Research customer reviews and testimonials to gauge each vendor’s track record for addressing customer concerns and providing ongoing support.

Security 

CMMS software security should be a top priority to safeguard your sensitive maintenance data. Pay attention to the following security considerations:

  • Data Protection: Make sure your CMMS provider uses powerful data encryption, secure storage protocols, and regular data backups. They should also comply with industry-standard security practices to minimize the risk of data breaches.
  • User Access Controls: Assess the system’s user access controls. The software should provide control over user permissions, allowing you to restrict access at a detailed level to sensitive data and functions.
  • Authentication and Authorization: Verify that the software supports secure log-in (authentication) mechanisms, such as multi-factor authentication (MFA).
  • Compliance and Certifications: Ask whether the CMMS complies with relevant data protection regulations, such as SOC 2, GDPR, or HIPAA (if applicable to your organization). Look for certifications or attestations that demonstrate the vendor’s commitment to maintaining high security standards.

If possible, it is helpful to involve a member of your internal technology team to help evaluate security based on your organization’s standards. Your vendor should be forthright and open about their data security practices and share details willingly. 

Scalability 

As your business expands, your maintenance needs are likely to expand with it, requiring the CMMS to handle a larger volume of assets, users, and locations. A scalable CMMS should be able to handle larger data sets, increased user activity, and higher demand without sacrificing performance.

Look for a CMMS solution that can accommodate your future growth without significant disruptions or the need for expensive upgrades. Most CMMS vendors offer tiered plans based on the number of assets or facilities you manage, allowing you to scale up gradually and pay for only what you need when you need it.

Pricing 

Most CMMS vendors offer subscription-based pricing at different tiers. Higher tiers provide access to advanced features but come at a higher cost per user.

While the cheapest options on the market might seem attractive, they often lack the flexibility and advanced features needed to streamline complex maintenance operations. The market for CMMS solutions is competitive and you generally get what you pay for.

Since pricing structures can vary widely based on your needs, be sure to ask for detailed information from the vendors you’re interested in. Include various subscription levels in your analysis to accommodate for future growth.

Core functions and features

Many CMMS systems offer similar features and functions. What differentiates one CMMS from another is the way it may be applied in your organization. That said, there are some basic features and functions that any CMMS should have. Evaluating how each one works and may be used in your organization is an important part of the selection process. 

Work order management

The most important aspect of any CMMS for the maintenance manager is an intuitive user interface that allows for quick and easy management of maintenance tasks. Here are a few key functions to look for.

  • Calendar view of current and upcoming tasks
  • Ability to set (and change) task priority with minimal clicks
  • Automatic logging of work orders and PMs to an asset’s maintenance log 
  • Customizable work management dashboard for viewing critical information such as task statuses, due dates, priorities, and more

Work request portal

Simplifying the work request process is one of the most impactful tools a CMMS can provide outside the maintenance team. By making a work request portal available to machine operators or facility occupants, a good CMMS system will automate associated communications and workflows. 

  • QR code-enabled request submission process that prompts the requestor for essential details
  • Automatic notifications and status updates for the requester, eliminating calls and emails
  • Automated workflows that streamline work assignment and completion

Asset management

Asset management software can take many forms. It is important for your CMMS to have an intuitive user interface and clever application of tools to make asset identification and management simple, and maintenance checklists and histories easily accessible.

  • Maintenance logs and reports that allow detailed tracking of breakdowns, repairs, efficiency metrics, sensor data, and more 
  • Centralized asset cards or other quick and easy way to access essential asset information in the field 
  • Asset hierarchy organization for easy orientation and asset identification  
  • Detailed checklists for common maintenance tasks, ensuring repairs and PMs are done right

Parts and inventory management

Spare parts inventory can be one of the most difficult aspects of maintenance to get right. Ensuring you have easy access to parts you need without wasting money and storage space on unused material is a balancing act that can only be achieved with the right data and tools. 

  • Barcode lookup for easy identification and tracking of the right parts for the job 
  • Inventory forecasting for optimizing stock levels 
  • Instant push and email notifications to trigger restocking at customizable thresholds
  • Real-time, automatic part usage tracking that reflects the parts used in WOs and PMs

Preventive maintenance scheduling

Preventive maintenance is the basis for any efficient maintenance program. So naturally, a CMMS must have strong preventive maintenance capabilities. Here is what to look for.

  • Automatic PM scheduling based on triggers identified by you (time, usage, or sensor meter readings)
  • Drag-and-drop calendar or other functionality that allows quick and easy management of preventive maintenance tasks and work assignments
  • Task template builder that can make it easy to build PM tasks with the appropriate steps and workflow 

Reports and dashboards

One of the primary benefits of centralizing your maintenance documentation is leveraging that data into actionable insights and trends. Any CMMS should have a robust reporting module that makes the most of your maintenance data with functions like:

  • Dashboard overviews for tracking critical KPIs
  • Automatically generated maintenance reports that are updated in real-time
  • Custom reports builder for creating highly customizable reports on your own 

Completing thorough work orders is all it takes to begin compiling powerful reports. Limble takes all maintenance data and automatically aggregates it for reporting — no extra work or involvement from customer support is required.

Mobile application

The importance of a mobile CMMS application cannot be overstated. A CMMS system that offers core features in a well-designed mobile app will make adoption easier for your team, and enable its use in the field. 

Other features to consider

There are many other features that a CMMS can provide.  Depending on your organization and industry, here are other functions you may want to prioritize in your search:

Step 4: Test the finalists

After the research phase, you should have three or so solutions that most closely match your criteria. You may choose to include a CMMS RFP as part of your process and if so, these are the organizations you will send your RFP to for a final proposal. Then, it’s time to put them to the test.

Most CMMS vendors offer free trials that last from two to four weeks. With a bit of preparation, this should give your team plenty of time to get a feel for the software and test all the basic features. Here are some guidelines to help you get the most out of your trial periods. 

  • Set up the test: Prepare a checklist of all of the features you want to test. Run each solution through that checklist to ensure a head-to-head comparison of similar functions.
  • Use your time wisely: Combine product demonstrations from the vendor with hands-on testing to get their perspective on how features are designed and meant to be used. 
  • Pay special attention to ease-of-use: Ease-of-use improves software adoption, speeds up the onboarding process, and plays a crucial role in maximizing your team’s productivity.
  • Include key users: Include team members with a broad range of technological skills and pay close attention to how intuitive the software is. 

During this phase, ask key questions like: 

  • How long does it take to perform simple tasks like approving work requests, scheduling WOs and PMs, and adding new assets to the database?
  • Can you complete the tasks intuitively, or do you need a tutorial?

Gather feedback from the individuals involved in testing and review it with your selection taskforce. Consider this feedback along with all the other factors and priorities identified earlier in the selection process.

If there isn’t a standout winner, create a set of rating scales that each taskforce member can use to objectively evaluate the options. Aggregate the numbers to find your winner.

Ready to find your CMMS?

If the idea of choosing a software process sounds overwhelming, have no fear. With a team of internal experts, a little bit of research and testing, and the right perspective, you will be able to find the right system for your needs.

For a deeper dive into the CMMS selection process, check out our CMMS Buyer’s Guide.

Schedule a demo, or start a free trial to learn more about how Limble can help your team be its best.

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