But what happens when you realize you chose the wrong CMMS solution? How easy (or hard) is it to switch to a new CMMS provider? Can you make that transition promptly without incurring significant costs?
We are here to answer those questions.
We will show you how to recognize the signs you need a new CMMS solution and how to plan out and executea smooth transition that won’t disrupt your ongoing maintenance operations or require a huge investment.
Clear Signs You Need A New CMMS
One of the worst things you can do is settle for a CMMS solution that forces you to adapt to it, instead of it being able to adapt to you. It doesn’t make sense to continue paying for something that can’t make you more efficient.
Let’s go through the most common signs that show you’re better off finding a new CMMS provider.
1) You Haven’t Realized A ROI
Maintenance managers are not introducing CMMS in their organizations just because they want to “mix things up”.
They do it to create a smoother ran maintenance department that can cut costs by preventing unscheduled downtime and increasing the lifespan of their assets.
The more they can cut those costs down, the higher the return on investment they can see.
If your current CMMS solution was installed properly and you are not seeing a positive return on your investment, then you are not the problem – the problem is the solution you are using.
2) The CMMS You Are Using Is Overly Complex
One of the most common reasons why your CMMS is not realizing an ROI is because it is too damn hard for you or your team to use.
Just look at it logically. The more time your technicians spend trying to find asset information or logging something into the tool, the less time they have to perform their job. That, in turn, further increases your labor costs.
Don’t think that powerful maintenance software has to be innately complex to use because it must have a lot of features and powerful analytics.
As someone that has worked for years on a CMMS that is powerful yet simple to use, I can confidently say that this is simply not true. Limble CMMS is the proof of that.
3) It Doesn’t Support Mobile Devices
Our internal data shows that clients who go from a desktop based system (whether CMMS or Excel) to our mobile CMMS see a 15% productivity increase, purely from the fact that they can access the software on their phone.
Here are a few things you are missing out on if your CMMS isn’t mobile-friendly:
your technicians can’t receive instant notifications when the new Work Orders are created or comments are added to existing Work Orders
you can’t start new Work Orders while you’re out in the field
you can’t track the progress of your current maintenance operations if you are not sitting behind a desk
your technicians can’t look up critical asset information on the spot (which slows down diagnosing a problem)
your technicians have to go to the nearest computer to log their work, time that could be better spent elsewhere
4) Your CMMS Is Missing Critical Features
This is a point that doesn’t need much explanation. If the solution you use doesn’t have the necessary features, you should look for the one that does.
In a time where more and more organizations are switching to preventive and predictive maintenance, not being able to schedule a proactive plan means you will have a hard time staying competitive in the market.
If your current solution is missing some features that are important to you, you shouldn’t think twice about finding a more suitable partner as this is not a problem that is going to solve itself.
5) The Solution Doesn’t Scale Well
If you plan to expand your business, you will want a maintenance software that can follow that growth.
The easiest way to recognize that your current solution might have trouble scaling is its complexity to use.
Does it take you a long time to add new assets?
Is the interface cluttered?
Is it hard to oversee the progress of open Work Orders?
Do you need a lot of time to schedule preventive work?
Do new employees take a long time to figure out how to properly use the software?
If the answer to any of the above questions is affirmative, having more assets and technicians means these issues are only going to get worse.
6) The Software Is Too Expensive
Another sign that doesn’t need much explanation.
Every solution comes with its own set of features and pricing. However, not all CMMS providers have flexible pricing. Some solutions are more oriented towards enterprises, while others aim to help smaller businesses.
If you take into account that some CMMS solution costs as little as $25/month, it is not a stretch to conclude you CAN find an affordable system for your business.
No matter how simple the software you’re using is, every business is different and, sooner or later, you will have a technical issue or a question you will want to see solved quickly and efficiently.
If your CMMS provider…
takes ages to reply
doesn’t actually try to solve your problem
doesn’t even offer proper technical support (phone, email, and live chat)
…then this is not the long-term partner you need to grow your business.
In the industry where small delays can cost you thousands of dollars, you don’t want to work with someone that takes a week to address your problem.
This section ended up being longer than expected but we thought it is important to explain our reasoning behind every sign.
Now that we got this out of the way, let’s see how to switch CMMS vendors without losing your sanity.
How To Switch To A New CMMS
Step #1: Get Your Team On Board
We touched on this in multiple articles on our blog, but only because it is so important.
You have to realize that setting up a CMMS is not the thing that will get you ROI – actually using the system is what generates ROI you’re expecting to see.
If your maintenance staff isn’t motivated to give the new system a try, then this whole transition is just a waste of your time and resources.
The good news is that it isn’t that hard to get your team motivated.
Imagine that you are a maintenance technician and somebody shows you a new CMMS that is simpler to use and makes your life easier by automating boring parts of your work and speeding up your overall workflow. Wouldn’t you be interested in giving such software a fair chance?
Another way to get your team motivated is to allow them to review the solutions you’ve shortlisted and considered their feedback before making the final choice.
After all, they will be using the software almost daily.
Step #2: Plan Out The Transition
As with any project, a little bit of planning and coordination goes a long way to ensure its success.
1) Set The Milestones And The Timeline
Projects that don’t have clearly defined deadlines often take an unnecessarily long time to complete.
However, don’t just look to define a single due date for the whole project. To be able to track the progress of your implementation, you need to break it into multiple milestones.
For example, you could set due dates for the following activities (which we will cover later in the article):
Export or gather maintenance data needed for the transfer
Import or enter the maintenance data into the new CMMS
Enter employee data into the new CMMS
Define and set up needed reports and KPIs
Set up CMMS integrations (if needed)
Create a preventive maintenance plan in the new CMMS
2) Outline The Responsibilities (Who Needs To Do What)
Now that you have the list of steps you need to take, you need to decide who is going to carry them out.
When you are assigning the tasks, try to be as clear as possible about why those tasks have to be done and how they affect the rest of the process.
Another thing every member of your team needs to know is who is in charge of the project and to whom they can come with their questions.
Remember that just because something is clear to you, it doesn’t mean it is clear to everybody else.
3) Assign A “Project Manager” And/Or Form A CMMS Team
Every project needs someone that will oversee it. In most cases, that will be the maintenance manager.
However, bigger organizations might want to take this a step further and form a CMMS team, especially if they are implementing the new CMMS across multiple locations.
For instance, your CMMS team can consist of a maintenance manager, upper-level manager, maintenance technician representatives, and a dedicated person from the site of the CMMS vendor that will help you with the implementation.
In some cases, organizations look to create a CMMS team even before they start searching for their new maintenance solution so they get the input from all sides before they shortlist a few systems they want to try out.
4) Coordinate With Your CMMS Vendor
In the early days of Limble, I helped a lot of businesses implement Limble into their organization.
One thing I learned from it is that having someone that can quickly answer their questions and address even the minor problems, vastly speeds up the whole implementation process.
That is why every client gets a dedicated person they can reach out with any questions, concerns, and requests.
Don’t hesitate to ask your CMMS vendor for help as it should be in their best interest to ensure you make a successful transition.
Step #3: Transfer Needed Maintenance Data
Depending on the size of your maintenance operations and the number of assets you use, transferring all of the data can take a few weeks to months.
The good news is that you only need to do this once.
In the best-case scenario, you will be able to export the data from your old CMMS, do some clean up if necessary (like deleting data about old assets you are not using anymore), and upload it into your new CMMS.
Here is what you can do to ensure this process goes as smoothly as possible:
1) Decide Which Data You Need To Gather
Before you start gathering all of the maintenance data you want to transfer, you should first define which information you need.
Here is a picture that shows the usual asset information you will want to transfer:
If you did run a predictive or preventive maintenance plan with your old CMMS software, you will also want the data about preventive/predictive maintenance procedures, tasks, and frequencies which you can then use to quickly set up a preventive maintenance plan in your new CMMS.
If you have a large number of assets, start by transferring the data for the most critical assets first.
2) Gather Needed Data
Here are a few ways to gather all of the data you want to migrate to your new CMMS:
export data from your old CMMS software
gather any spreadsheets you might still be using to record asset information
review OEM recommendations and similar “paper” sources for any information you might still be missing (which means that, if you still didn’t do it, you can finally throw those filing cabinets out of your office)
3) Clean Gathered Data
Before you start entering the data into your new CMMS, take some time to clean the data you gathered and ensure you are only handling accurate and organized information.
You can do that by:
Removing unnecessary data. There is always a chance that some exported files and spreadsheets contain data you don’t need. Now would be a good time to delete it.
Removing duplicate data. If you’ve gathered data from multiple sources, there is a high chance you have some overlapping data you can remove.
Set a standard naming conventions. Most CMMS solutions allow you to use pre-made naming conventions that are based on simple numerical codes or just create your own.
Our guidance for naming standards in Limble is to name everything clearly and logically – the names should be clear enough so that even a front-line operator would know what the asset is. So instead of an abbreviation like CH-01 use something such as Chiller-01.
Having clear asset names with clear numeric identifiers is the best way to ensure all data is easily readable, searchable, filtered, and ordered.
4) Enter The Data Into Your New CMMS
Now that you gathered clean data and decided which naming standards you want to use, the next step is to enter that data into your new CMMS.
The two most common methods you will use are:
importing .CSV files (which you created or exported from your old CMMS software)
inputting data manually
This might take a while but as we said, you only need to do it once.
Step #4: Set Up Your New CMMS Solution
Here are a few things you should take care of before you start using your freshly installed CMMS loaded with all of the data you need.
1) Set Up Reports You Will Actually Use
Most CMMS have a database of hundreds of different reports because they serve a wide range of customers in many different industries. From food and beverage manufacturers to owners of office complexes or educational institutions, every customer will have specific needs for a different set of reports.
Ideally, customers will decide what is critical for them (largely based on their business goals) then have the CMMS setup to provide reports that help them monitor these KPIs. For example, clients in one industry might be focused on planned vs unplanned downtime, while those in another sector could be more concerned with how long it takes to complete maintenance tasks, costs of maintaining their assets, or something completely different.
But even though your CMMS can automatically generate dozens of reports, there is no point in wasting your time to set up the ones you will never use.
One way we are trying to help our users in this regard is that instead of creating a large database of reports users can pull from, we built a very powerful (yet easy to use) custom dashboard builder that allows you to create your reports. This allows every single customer to have a truly customized reporting that gives them the highest quality data to make informed business decisions.
Another feature of Limble CMMS is that it allows rotation of these custom reports. This means you can set up all of your KPIs on a large screen and have it continually rotate so everyone on your team always knows exactly what’s happening.
In addition, our custom dashboards allow you to view reports side by side so you can easily compare performance from one criteria to the other like staff performance, costs, downtime, and so on.
Before we move on to the next section, here is a list of common reports you might want to create:
As you already know, your CMMS doesn’t have to stand alone. The goal is to ensure that it can communicate with other software you might be using such as ERP.
This will significantly improve response times and efficiency while avoiding the generation of duplicated data.
Although integrating CMMS with other systems requires some technical skills, it does not have to be a tough exercise.
Many CMMS solutions these days provide a user interface that simplifies the integration process through:
options that automate the process, thereby making manual input unnecessary
features for quick import and export of data from other applications
seamless data exchange
If you are also using predictive maintenance, condition-based maintenance or some other IoT-enabled technology, you will also want to connect your CMMS to the installed sensors so you can have a real-time insight into the condition of your assets.
3) Test The System
After all the required data has been imported into the new maintenance software, the next step is to carry out thorough testing. There are several questions to ask at this stage:
Is the maintenance history correct and accessible?
Do the field names make sense and are easily searchable?
Are all items in the asset register (equipment and parts) well defined and accurate?
Any errors found should be promptly reported to the CMMS vendor for correction.
4) Don’t Skip Employee Training
A great way to make your life easier and make employee training a breeze is to pick an easy to use CMMS and simply do the training the CMMS vendor suggests.
If your CMMS vendor suggests extensive training, this might be a red flag that points to the fact that their CMMS isn’t so easy to use and that you might want to reconsider your decision.
While the training options will vary from vendor to vendor, the most common ones are in-person training sessions, webinars, and good old video tutorials.
Whatever training method you choose, if you have a very large maintenance team, it will likely not be convenient to train all of them at once. In such situations, a few selected team members can be thoroughly trained directly by the vendor. Thereafter, they can teach others in batches till everyone is on-board.
Step #5: Watch, React, Improve – Follow Through
Congratulations, you have just implemented your new CMMS solution.
However, don’t celebrate for too long as there are still a few things you need to watch out for to ensure long-term success.
Now that the technical aspect of the implementation is over, you have to act as an inspector. Monitor how your employees are using the CMMS so you can correct flawed actions before they become a habit.
Make Using The CMMS A Habit
You may be surprised to see that, even though your team has been fully trained on using the new software, they are not following all the guidelines and best practices.
Old habits die hard and if your maintenance team picked up any bad habits by working on the old CMMS software, now it is the time to put in some extra effort to correct them.
One of the more common problems is that the technicians are not logging everything they are doing into the CMMS. That is why we always advise the managers to keep a close eye on this for at least one month after the implementation and work on correcting and improving those habits.
This is the only way to ensure you are handling real information and that your plans and decisions are based on accurate insights and reports.
3 Months In – Report To Your Boss
Within three months of adopting a new and improved CMMS, you should begin seeing reductions in downtime, better inventory management, improved document storage and retrieval, less overtime, and more.
Export these positive results and then share it with upper management. It’s a great way to put them at ease in situations where there were some initial challenges or resistance from management about the idea of migrating to new software.
The Ultimate Goal: Fully Utilizing Your New CMMS Solution
We have established that migrating to a better CMMS can be achieved without seriously disrupting your entire maintenance operations or incurring huge costs.
Your new CMMS is a powerful software that, if used properly, can vastly improve your maintenance operations in terms of efficiency and cost reductions. But even though it’s already giving you the results you expect, there are probably several features you are not using regularly.
Many customers make the mistake of using their CMMS like just another sophisticated record-keeping tool. But that’s just one aspect of the many things you can accomplish with it.
Instead of just using the basic features you initially needed, why not explore its full functionality? Maybe the tool offers some features you didn’t even know you needed.
Encourage your staff to explore its capabilities and you will see continuous improvements in your maintenance operations.
If you are thinking about switching to a new CMMS software, don’t hesitate to get in touch and let’s see if Limble would be a good fit for your organization.