Every ship needs a captain — someone to steer the crew through rough waters and into new ports. The same is true for a CMMS. A leader is needed to help the maintenance team navigate CMMS implementation, use, and optimization. That person is a CMMS champion. Today, we’re looking at what that is and why every facility needs one to guide them to CMMS success.
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What is a CMMS champion?
Simply having maintenance software doesn’t mean your operation will be more successful. It’s how you use it to create efficient processes, leverage data, and maximize resources that elevates your operation. It’s the job of the CMMS champion to make sure this happens.
There are many different names a CMMS champion can have in the maintenance industry, including continuous improvement manager, reliability manager, and maintenance coordinator. Whatever you call them, the champion is the one dedicated to managing all aspects of the software with the ultimate goal of leading an organization to CMMS success. They are the person who looks at the CMMS as a continuous improvement tool and constantly tries to find the best ways to use it.
What does a CMMS champion do?
There are four main stages in the lifecycle of a successful CMMS: Implementation, adoption, impact, and optimization. A CMMS champion leads an organization through each phase, taking on different responsibilities along the way.
The four stages of CMMS success
A CMMS champion is in charge of building the foundation necessary for a CMMS to thrive. A successful CMMS implementation relies on being thorough and accurate when setting up the software and preparing the maintenance team to use it. A champion helps achieve this by:
- Working with the CMMS vendor to build an implementation plan and schedule that takes into account the capabilities and goals of the organization.
- Making sure all information put into the CMMS is comprehensive and correct, from assets to preventive maintenance tasks, and spare parts.
- Coordinating team training so everyone knows how to use the system and why it’s necessary.
- Handling change management within the organization to ensure everyone feels comfortable embracing new technology and processes.
- Being the main link to the CMMS provider throughout the process and overcoming issues with the help of the vendor.
- Building and communicating guiding principles, processes, and standard operating procedures for the CMMS.
- Collaborating with the IT department, who owns the administration of the system (the nuts and bolts), to ensure a smooth technical implementation and data security.
A lack of user adoption is one of the most common reasons CMMS software fails to deliver. A CMMS is only a tool, it’s not a solution. If no one uses the system properly, or at all, it won’t benefit the maintenance team. At this critical juncture, a CMMS champion focuses on:
- Making sure everyone is comfortable with using the software to achieve CMMS success.
- Tracking usage rates to ensure the software is being used consistently.
- Auditing information put into the system by users to confirm it’s clear, accurate, and consistent across the facility and/or multiple sites.
- Being the main point of contact for users who have questions or challenges with the CMMS, and developing strategies to address any issues impacting user adoption.
Achieving and communicating an impact
The whole point of using a CMMS is to help your facility improve its maintenance operations while communicating the lessons learned from this process to the decision-makers in your organization. A CMMS champion takes the lead in accomplishing both by:
- Using maintenance KPIs to define what success looks like and quantify progress.
- Developing a reporting framework to gather regular updates and insights from the CMMS.
- Communicating the benefits and lessons from the system to both higher-ups and the maintenance team, acting as a bridge between the shop floor and the top floor.
- Making adjustments to procedures, KPIs, and components within the software to target areas where the team could be doing better.
Maintenance suffers from a poor reputation in many organizations…A CMMS champion can change that.
A CMMS champion’s job is never done. They are always finding better ways to use the software to improve their team’s potential and the performance of the entire organization. They also aren’t shy about bringing the benefits and lessons learned from a CMMS to other parts of the organization. The champion can do this by:
- Finding new functions within the software to continually evolve their operation and achieve a well-balanced maintenance program.
- Leading the creation of an asset management policy that impacts the success of the entire organization.
- Working with the CMMS provider to improve the product and develop strategies for scaling the system.
- Building a plan to deploy the software and better maintenance practices to other sites.
- Training co-champions to mitigate knowledge loss in case of turnover.
Who should be a CMMS champion?
Anyone can be a CMMS champion, as long as they have knowledge of maintenance practices, buy-in from management, and possess a few key traits. The characteristics of a great CMMS champion can be divided into two categories — hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are the job-specific expertise necessary for someone to do a job well and soft skills are the personal attributes and communication abilities required to make an impact. Champions need both to lead their team to CMMS success.
The hard skills a CMMS champion needs
- Experience with managing people
- A background with maintenance processes (handling work orders, audits, etc.)
- An understanding of how to complete maintenance tasks, such as repairing an asset
- In-depth knowledge of the facility’s assets and asset histories
- Ability to create maintenance reports and analyze maintenance KPIs
- Experience with technology and its uses in maintenance
The soft skills a CMMS champion needs
- Ability to build consensus with a diverse group of people
- Empathy for the work of the maintenance teams
- An understanding of how to communicate positive results and areas of improvement to everyone
- A natural curiosity and desire for continuous learning
- Able to turn complex ideas into easy-to-learn concepts for training purposes
- A flexible mindset that can adapt to changing environments and can pivot to new strategies easily
How having a CMMS champion leads to CMMS success
Achieving CMMS success isn’t always easy, but it’s worth it. The software can help you do everything from reducing downtime to cutting costs and improving safety. The chances of seeing any of these benefits improve dramatically when there’s a CMMS champion at the helm. They are the person who turns a bunch of fields on a screen into a smarter way of working.
Every ship needs a captain — someone to steer the crew through rough waters and into new ports. The same is true for a CMMS.
They reduce culture shock, turnover, and knowledge loss
Bringing maintenance software into a facility can be a huge culture shock for the entire team, which can result in lower user adoption, higher turnover rates, a loss of expertise, and poor overall results. A CMMS champion overcomes these obstacles by keeping everyone informed, engaged, and empowered so no one feels left out, uncomfortable or let down. They ensure technicians are well-trained and consulted before, during, and after the arrival of a CMMS. They are the main contact for questions about the system, so issues are clearly understood and addressed quickly.
They improve the quality and quantity of your data
CMMS success is often defined by data — how much is collected and how it’s used to improve the facility. A CMMS champion is the all-important gatekeeper of that data, determining what metrics matter most, and ensuring it’s being recorded consistently and accurately. They also assess the data and use the results to fine-tune maintenance practices. This effort isn’t just about short-term gain either. Having a large database of accurate data is key to establishing programs for preventive and predictive maintenance.
They boost the profile of maintenance in the organization
Maintenance suffers from a poor reputation in many organizations. Upper management often doesn’t understand or isn’t aware of the positive impact maintenance can have. A CMMS champion can change that. They are well-versed in maintenance, are responsible for tracking KPIs, and have buy-in from higher-ups. It’s easier for them to communicate how software has benefited the maintenance department and the organization as a whole. When you have a CMMS champion connecting the dots between CMMS success and company success, it’s a whole lot easier to keep moving forward.
They create standardization, consistency, and better processes
Maintenance can be messy. Results vary wildly when everyone has a different way of doing things, which is almost all the time. Using a CMMS draws some boundaries, but still leaves room for inconsistency, errors, and inefficiency. A CMMS champion creates policies and processes so every part of a maintenance operation is aligned on the way the system is used. The outcome of this approach is increased accountability and productivity. The champion tweaks these strategies as needed to ensure standardization is working and the capabilities of the CMMS aren’t being undermined.
The bottom line: A CMMS champion isn’t just good, it’s necessary
CMMS software isn’t a silver bullet. It will not solve all your maintenance problems in one fell swoop. It’s more like fire — if left unattended, it could wreak havoc, but if managed properly, it can give you a whole list of benefits. That’s why a CMMS champion is necessary. They manage the system so it can be used to its full potential. They guide a maintenance operation every step of the way — past every roadblock, through every uncertain moment, and to every milestone so you can achieve CMMS success.