How to evaluate, purchase, and use CMMS software
A comprehensive guide on the features and benefits of using a CMMS, and how to select the best software for your maintenance.
What is a CMMS?
A computerized maintenance management system (or CMMS software) helps asset-intensive organizations digitally plan, track, measure, and optimize all maintenance activities.
Why is having a CMMS important?
Maintenance strategies have evolved dramatically over the years, with a shift in understanding of how preventive maintenance can extend the life of assets, increase productivity, improve overall efficiency, and reduce maintenance costs in ways reactive maintenance can’t.
But the tools to manage them haven’t always kept up. Until recently, most maintenance teams relied on Excel spreadsheets, pen and paper, and legacy maintenance software to get the job done. Unfortunately, these approaches don’t cut it anymore as competition in the market increases and teams face the demands for higher production quotas.
There’s more pressure on maintenance teams than ever before to maximize production while reducing costs, not to mention maintaining good employee morale.This is where CMMS software can help you. CMMS software helps you schedule, organize, track, and optimize your maintenance in one place with just a few clicks.
This is just a high-level view of what modern, cloud-based CMMS software can help your maintenance do. Keep scrolling to find out a little more about the problems a CMMS can help you solve and the value it can get from a CMMS.
What features does a CMMS have?
Think of the challenges your maintenance team faces every day—breakdowns, backlog, missing parts, cost overruns—the list goes on. With CMMS software, you have an incredibly powerful tool that helps eliminate these headaches.
So what are the most important features to look for in a CMMS? Below are the six features of a cloud-based CMMS that can solve 90% of your maintenance problems.
Work order management
A CMMS helps you create, complete, and track digital work orders by allowing you to:
- Submit, review, filter, assign, and analyze work orders
- Schedule and trigger maintenance
- Get alerts when work orders are created
- Add checklists, manuals, and notes to work orders
How does this help you?
A digital work order builder helps you eliminate three huge obstacles for your maintenance team, including:
Downtime: The quicker a work order is created, assigned, and completed, the less time an asset is down. Machines can get running in less time and stay healthy longer.
Inefficiency: Staff can document, submit, and see requests instantly. Technicians can access the resources to get the job done fast, correctly, and safely without wasting time looking around.
Lack of information: Task details are available with a few clicks. This leads to standard results, easier troubleshooting, and smarter decision-making so you can maximize asset health.
Scheduled maintenance planner
A CMMS tool removes the challenges of scheduling maintenance, thanks to features like:
- PM triggers for scheduled tasks based on time, use, condition, or events
- Calendars where you can see everyone’s schedule and assign tasks
- Maintenance forecaster that allows you to match upcoming tasks with inventory purchases and work schedules
- Inspection checklists, including pass or fail guidelines
- Scheduled maintenance metrics such as planned maintenance compliance
How does this help you?
The scheduled maintenance planner shields your organization from three big issues:
Relying on reactive maintenance: The biggest advantage of this feature is it can help you establish a preventive maintenance program and reduce the number of fires your team puts out every day, improving everything from safety to production.
Doing too much preventive maintenance: Yes, there is such a thing as too much preventive maintenance. The scheduled maintenance planner helps you find the best frequency for tasks so equipment and staff are never overworked.
Overspending: The planner tool gives you a view into every part needed for scheduled maintenance so you never order too many parts, schedule too many people, overpay on rush shipping, or lose sight of how your department is performing. Every dollar is optimized.
Asset profiles and management
A CMMS offers a better way to organize, track, and optimize assets through digital asset profiles. It helps you:
- Create asset hierarchies
- Build detailed and accessible asset profiles
- Track the usage and performance of equipment
- Generate custom reports on asset costs, health, and more
How does this help you?
Digital asset profiles give your team all the information they need to overcome some common obstacles, including:
Demanding audits: Audits usually require very specific information about assets and their maintenance history. Digital asset profiles give you the ability to search for assets, find that information, and prepare for audits.
Building accurate budgets: Digital asset profiles contain all the details to calculate how much maintenance costs for each piece of equipment and make informed choices about capital expenditure forecasting, repair or replace decisions, and more.
Inefficient PMs: Technicians are able to avoid having to collect all the information about a task before they start, making it easier for them to complete scheduled maintenance quickly and safely.
A CMMS makes it easier to purchase, organize, and use inventory by giving you the ability to:
- Set minimum quantities and automate purchasing
- Log vendor and purchase details
- See BOMs for assets and the location of parts
- Track costs, cycle counts, FIFO, and more
- Sync inventory records with an ERP
How does this help you?
Solid inventory management can clear up some huge headaches for your maintenance team, such as:
Disconnected maintenance: The maintenance team isn’t the only one relying on accurate inventory numbers. A CMMS makes it possible to sync this data with financial software, like an ERP, so maintenance costs are always reflected in company financials.
High costs: Spare parts can be expensive, especially if inefficiencies hamper the purchasing process. This tool eliminates these inefficiencies and cuts costs by forecasting inventory needs and establishing just-in-time delivery.
Hard to find or missing inventory: Inaccessible inventory is a big cause of downtime, which is why the inventory management feature is so important. It gives you the precise location of each part so you can always find what you’re looking for.
A CMMS lets you collect, analyze, and act on maintenance data by helping you:
- Build dashboards to view real-time KPIs across sites
- Create maintenance and audit logs
- Generate reports about your maintenance operations
How does this help you?
With one-click reporting, you get the data you need to make insightful decisions that will help you:
Find the ROI of maintenance: Maintenance provides value, but it’s hard to prove without numbers to back it up. Easier reporting helps you connect better maintenance to higher production and lower costs, so your team can get the kudos it deserves.
Save time: Creating reports by hand or Excel can be tedious and time-consuming. Pre-built, automated reports eliminate this issue and save everyone time, from executives to technicians.
Identify problems and solutions: Answers to big problems can be hidden among a mountain of numbers. A CMMS makes it simpler to sort through these numbers, pinpoint where an issue originated, and develop a strategy for fixing it.
Like just about anything these days, there’s an app for maintenance management. A mobile CMMS app offers a lot of useful tools, including:
- QR codes and barcodes to instantly bring up information on an asset
- Push notifications so you’re notified of new work orders when you’re assigned a task
- Asset profiles and work orders where you can access all details from the app
- Offline access when you don’t have an internet connection
- Take photos on your mobile device and attach them to a work order
- Add notes to a work order while you work through Voice-to-text
How does this help you?
A mobile CMMS app allows you to do maintenance wherever and whenever you need to, which puts an end to nagging problems such as:
Missing, incomplete, and inaccurate information: Every minute between a meter reading or observation and the time it’s documented increases the chance for error. Mobile maintenance reduces this risk by making data input easy and instant.
Slow emergency response time: Every minute counts when a critical piece of equipment is broken. A mobile CMMS app significantly shortens the window from failure to response, reducing downtime and upping production.
Tough working conditions: Maintenance is rarely convenient—assets are often far apart or hard to access. A mobile app allows you to access information and document work without going back and forth from an office or worrying about ruining paper documents.
What are the benefits of a CMMS?
A CMMS can empower your operation, make failure the exception (not the rule), and help you future-proof your company. Here are a few examples of how a cloud-based CMMS can benefit your maintenance team.
Stop overspending on inventory, cut waste, increase uptime, and track spending more accurately. According to a recent IDC report, CMMS users see a 10% reduction in production-related costs.
Curious about how to reduce maintenance costs?
Here are eight ways to save on budget while boosting revenue with CMMS software.
See asset history and ensure performance of critical equipment, erase backlog, schedule PMs with ease, and simplify repairs to eliminate downtime at its root. Maintenance teams report a 27% reduction in asset-related unplanned downtime incidents on average when using Fiix’s CMMS.
Learn about seven ways maintenance and operations teams are able to reduce downtime by using CMMS software.
Automate work, standardize PMs, and improve access to resources so you can work faster, safer, and increase production capacity effectively. In fact, customers of Fiix report a 44% increase in productive facilities and maintenance teams.
For more ideas on how to increase production efficiency, learn how the maintenance team can help when production capacity increases.
Accurately record and track all maintenance work in a central location. You can then access metrics, reports, real-time work order updates, and asset histories from anywhere, any time.
Learn how to improve asset reliability with a digital knowledge hub.
Improve health and safety
An overreliance on reactive maintenance is a major cause of accidents in many production environments. With a CMMS, you can outline safety requirements for every job, simplify audits, and make safety procedures more accessible.
Learn more about how to use CMMS software to improve the health and safety of your maintenance team.
Reporting and analysis
See one-click reports and dashboard with real-time KPIs, create benchmarks, and make data-driven decisions without sifting through a mile of numbers.
Want to see more ways a CMMS can help your maintenance team? Read our blog discussing the 20 benefits of a CMMS
Will a CMMS work for my business?
Now that you’re familiar with the benefits of a CMMS, the next step is to decide if a CMMS is the right solution for your business. Maintenance management systems used to only be found in manufacturing plants, but its use has expanded into a variety of sectors, including oil, gas, mining, and energy, food and beverage, pharmaceutical and chemical, and agriculture, just to name a few.
Read about how maintenance teams from your industry have used a CMMS to solve big problems and hit their targets
Here are a few questions to ask yourself to evaluate if your maintenance team could benefit from a CMMS.
Do you use a lot of equipment?
A CMMS helps you handle all the maintenance for your high-value assets, as well as all the data that comes from your equipment. A lot of equipment also means a big storeroom. A CMMS can help you keep that organized and efficient too.
Do you produce a lot of things?
A CMMS is perfect for coordinating maintenance with production, even if those schedules shift all the time. You can put an end to the battles between maintenance and production and work together to fight the real enemies: Downtime, poor quality, and safety risks.
Do you want to be reliable?
If your organization has a dream of operational excellence (and the KPI targets to back it up), a CMMS will help. Use it to move beyond reactive maintenance, stick to your processes, and turn dirty data into trustworthy information so your entire operation runs like a well-oiled machine.
What is the best CMMS software?
When choosing a CMMS software, it’s critical to do your due diligence and make sure you evaluate a variety of vendors, pricing options, and whether a cloud-based CMMS vs on-premise CMMS makes the most sense for your situation. Below are the top six aspects to consider when purchasing a CMMS.
Super simple to learn and use
The best CMMS lets you log work in seconds, not hours. It’s super easy for you and your technicians to use day-to-day and gives you quick access to all the information you need to report to your boss. Read customer reviews of how easy Fiix’s CMMS is to use.
Mobile, integrated, and smart
Your CMMS has to have a mobile app that’s available offline so your team in the field can record work in real-time. It also needs to be able to connect to the other systems your company uses (like an ERP or MES). Finally, it should be AI-driven, so you can quickly analyze CMMS data to find areas for improvement. See how you can take your maintenance mobile
Stellar customer support
Any good CMMS also comes with a team that’ll help you implement the system, build a long-term success plan, track results, scale operations, and overcome growing pains. Learn about our implementation and training programs
How much does cloud-based CMMS software cost?
Most CMMS platforms save you money in the long run, but the right one will help you maximize ROI now and as your company grows. This section helps you get to the true cost of cloud-based CMMS software so you can find the best solution. Below are the six factors that influence the cost of a CMMS.
Cloud-based CMMS software often runs on a subscription model. Subscription fees are typically paid per user, and most software vendors offer different subscription tiers, with the price of the subscription increasing with the number of features, level of service, and ability to customize.
One potential cost of implementation is paying for the services of a CMMS vendor to configure the system, migrate data, create PMs, and more. Most providers charge hourly or charge for an implementation package that includes these services.
Training, support, and administration
When determining the cost of training and support for your CMMS, you have to look at how comfortable your team is using the software, how quickly you want to get up to full speed, and how many users will have access to the system.
Purchasing mobile devices is one of the few hardware costs associated with cloud-based CMMS software. Most cloud-based CMMS systems have a mobile CMMS app, which makes it easy for users to access the software on their own phones or consumer-grade tablets.
It’s essential for your CMMS to integrate with your company’s other software like an ERP. The first step in determining the price of integration is to figure out which systems to connect your CMMS to. Integrating with production systems may require an extra expense for additional hardware.
Scaling your CMMS
Scaling your software to fit a growing company can lead to extra costs. One area of consideration is an increase in users. If you anticipate the maintenance team doubling in the next five years, your CMMS subscription fees will most likely double.
What do I get out of purchasing a CMMS?
In a recent IDC report, we conducted interviews with key facility and maintenance managers at manufacturing, agricultural, and insurance organizations to get their take on why they use Fiix for their maintenance programs. Below are just a few of the reasons why they’re fans of Fiix’s cloud-based CMMS software. You can read the full report here.
On average, maintenance teams achieve a 44% efficiency improvement.
Maintenance teams achieve a 10% reduction in production-related costs, and a 10% reduction in operating expenses.
Less time spent on repairs
Maintenance teams experience a 20% reduction in the average time to repair assets.
Maintenance teams report having an increase of 73% efficiency when conducting equipment inspections.
Fiix customers report achieving a 27% reduction in asset-related unplanned downtime incidents.
Other benefits Fiix customers rave about include:
- Better visibility across the entire operation
- Easy to learn and use
- Can handle the growth of operations
- Enables maintenance teams to standardize operations
- Helps streamline processes
- Enables greater access to real-time data and reports
- Helps with better decision making around maintaining assets
- Makes conducting audits and inspections more efficient
- Improves visibility across teams for better accountability
- Improves energy efficiency across the business
“Fiix is the best value product, hands down. After reviewing over 20 different products, this is the best value product you can find. We are happy customers.”
Learn more about each CMMS feature and the problems they help you eliminate
Top questions about CMMS software
What if I don’t have enough money in my budget for a CMMS?
If you’re in this position, you have two options: Convince your boss to increase your budget, or try a free CMMS. A free CMMS has its limitations, but if you’re a small operation or want to prove the value of a CMMS before making an investment, it’ll help you boost your maintenance program while minimizing risk and costs.
How do I choose a CMMS software?
There are a ton of different factors that impact the CMMS you choose, from your goals to the cost of the software, the features it has, and vendor support. We put together a handy guide to evaluating all your CMMS options to make the process a lot less overwhelming.
Can I connect my CMMS to EAMs, ERPs, SCADA, and other systems?
Yes, CMMS software can integrate with any system you can name, as long as you have the right partner. Depending on the CMMS you choose, the list of possible integrations ranges from a handful of selected vendors to pretty much any system you want. Fiix is firmly in the second group. If you want to learn more about CMMS integrations, check out our starter’s guide to CMMS integrations.
What does the 'cloud' in cloud-based CMMS mean?
If a CMMS is cloud-based it means everything about it is done on the internet. From the way it’s accessed, to the way you store data. It also means eliminating the headaches of traditional, on-premise software, like being tethered to a workstation, installing expensive hardware, or losing your data if a computer crashes. This article is a great primer on cloud-based CMMS software if you want to learn more. For further detail, read A Skeptic’s Guide to Cloud CMMS Software
What happens to my data when it goes into a CMMS?
Data that’s put into a cloud-based CMMS is stored on servers set up by the CMMS provider. These servers are usually set up with super-secure companies, like Amazon, to keep data from falling into the wrong hands or getting lost. CMMS providers also back up your data and do security installs and updates. As far as who sees your data, most CMMS providers follow strict privacy guidelines, meaning your data is never sold or given away.