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6 Considerations to Successfully Integrate a Maintenance Management Program

Definition

A maintenance management program can revolutionize the way your organization gets work done. But as wonderful as these programs can be, the number of times purchasers consider their new system a failure is staggering – in as much as 80% of cases according to one survey!

Most of the time, these failures do not occur because a particular computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is poorly configured or isn’t capable of delivering the promised benefits. 

It’s an implementation problem.

Implementing a CMMS into your existing business processes and work practices requires a well-thought-out and coordinated plan that is carefully monitored throughout the transition period. Without this plan, implementation is doomed and the maximum benefits and return on investment of a CMMS maintenance planning software purchase evaporate.

Want to avoid having your high expectations of a new maintenance management program dashed because of an unsuccessful implementation process? Here are six factors to consider before you begin your implementation.

  1. ARE SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND END-USERS ON BOARD?

Buy-in from leadership is essential and much more probable when they are shown realistic information about the purpose, ROI, benefits, potential for growth, timeline, and resources needed for flipping the digital transformation switch. As you can see, even presenting your case to senior management will take preparation and research, but key parts of the information gathered will do double duty as it will be used by your project team when it creates the actual implementation plan and timeline.

Furthermore, you’ll want to make sure your end-users are open to radically changing what is basically their world. It would seem that maintenance personnel would welcome technology that streamlines their workload, but many will fear the adoption of CMMS maintenance software could mean layoffs. Others may want to stick with paper processes because they don’t feel confident in their computer skills.

Moving to a maintenance management program is actually a function of change management, so involving the maintenance team in the decision making process from the get-go is critical. Make sure they see the need for change on both a business and a personal level. 

Seeking input about their needs and involving them in brainstorming sessions will ensure they take ownership of the project–and more importantly, use the technology once it’s in place.

Maintaining everyone’s enthusiasm throughout the timeline is important too. Project updates on a weekly basis, ideally with a graph showing progress in percentages will keep momentum going and spirits high. 

If you have trouble gaining ground with your proposal for switching to a CMMS, it can be helpful to use a crawl-walk-run approach. This way you integrate a maintenance management program slowly, upgrading only one area of operations, so decision-makers can see positive results before they commit to an overhaul of your entire facility. 

  1. WHO SHOULD BE ON YOUR IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT TEAM?

After the adoption of a CMMS has been approved, it’s time to pull together a team who will be tasked with creating a detailed implementation plan from start date to finish. The team ideally should include department managers, a data/IT specialist, technicians and other end-users. 

The project manager should be someone with working knowledge of the processes to be transformed through the CMMS and the talent to steer the project to completion. Make sure this person has the time to handle the added responsibilities–it’s too big a job to just tack on to their daily schedule.

The team will determine how much manpower is needed to gather all the necessary data, assign tasks, establish priorities and set key milestones. If your assets are not already uniquely identified, then the team needs to allow adequate time for inventorying and marking physical assets.

They’ll also need to oversee schemes for intelligent or significant parts numbering so the numbers provide information about the specific part itself. Although this type of scheme takes extra time to set up, it saves time and improves accuracy down the line. 

In addition to numbering and naming conventions, the team should address other issues such as work order priorities and status codes, including problem-cause-remedy failure codes.

  1. DO YOU HAVE CLEARLY DEFINED GOALS AND MEASUREMENTS?

A successful implementation begins with a clear understanding of your ultimate goal–what do you want this new digital system to accomplish? How do you envision the CMMS working five years from now? Should it include a mobile application?

Implementation can take anywhere from a few months to over a year depending on the size of your business, the scope of the project, types of assets, user capabilities and more, so having both short term and long term goals propels the project and keeps it on course. Goals should focus on these key areas:

  • Inventory control
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Labor and material tracking
  • Work orders
  • Vendor management
  • Asset management

Budget, existing tools, maintenance metrics and personnel will impact your goals and determine the path for implementing on target. A realistic timeline requires input from internal stakeholders such as managers and technicians and your CMMS vendor who should include time for testing and training. Taking into account both your capabilities and your limitations will make your goals measurable and attainable. 

And don’t forget to think about if and how your CMMS will interface with other systems such as ERP and accounting. 

  1. WHICH IS THE BEST SOFTWARE PROVIDER FOR MY NEEDS?

Selecting the right CMMS provider is essential  to successful implementation and beyond. Your choice in a vendor should consider several factors.

Scope–Again, knowing what processes and practices you want the CMMS to improve is a starting point. If you’re looking for a complete overhaul of all your maintenance management, then you’ll need a vendor who offers a comprehensive platform. If you want to incrementally update your systems, then look for a solution that has multiple modules that can easily be added in over time.

Budget–There are all levels of price points depending on your needs. Although cost is an important factor, don’t choose a solution based solely on this. In the long run it may cost you more if it doesn’t accomplish your goals. 

Features–Is a mobile application important (highly recommended)? What about reporting capabilities? Do you want your customers to be able to directly submit work requests in real-time? In today’s marketplace you should be able to find a CMMS provider who can deliver on all the features you want and some you didn’t even know existed!

Support–Keep in mind that you’ll be working with your choice in a provider for a long time. Not only do you want a vendor with the experience to carry you through implementation, training and into the future, but one with a team of professionals you actually like working with.

  1. HOW AND WHAT DATA SHOULD I GATHER? 

Many implementations are considered unsuccessful because the data gathered was either incomplete or not usable. Getting useful data begins with understanding why you need the data. When the same people who will be using the data are involved in deciding on what data points to collect, the outcome is improved. 

It can take six months to a year to gather all the data to make your CMMS the powerful tool it should be. For each asset you’ll want to include the equipment model, warranty information, initial cost, serial numbers, preventive maintenance schedule, parts information, location in the facility, images, repair history and any other relevant points.

After all the data is gathered, you’re ready to input it into your system. This task can eat up a lot of time so you may want to think about hiring temp workers or outside contractors to do the job. The good news is this massive amount of data needs only to be input once. Moving forward, you’ll follow your predetermined procedures for entering data on a daily basis.

  1. HOW WILL I ENSURE TRAINING LEADS TO USER ADOPTION?

Avoid an implementation disaster by providing time and resources for adequate training. A huge part of why so many implementations fail is that end users don’t end up using the system to its full potential because they don’t know how. Thorough, hands-on training increases user adoption.

Training needs to be required for all employees who will use the system and new hires. Initially, the training should be supplied by your CMMS vendor and should take place in front of a computer,  whether that’s onsite or online. Vendor training is invaluable because of their ability to answer questions in real-time and offer relevant examples.

Another aspect of training is to refine the way your particular organization uses terminology. Think of all the words that can be used to name those illuminated glass objects that Thomas Edison invented. Every employee needs to know the correct identifiers to eliminate confusion and even purchasing errors.

Along with training comes defining user responsibilities. Best practices include providing a written document that outlines user roles and makes permissions and duties clear, in addition to including instructions on how to daily manage the CMMS and add users with all the pertinent details such as certifications and contact information.This official document increases accountability and makes sure any problems are addressed as soon as possible.

A CMMS is too large an investment to let it be nothing more than a digital work order system. It is not the subject for self-learning. A qualified trainer shortens the learning curve which means ROI will be achieved sooner rather than later.

Conclusion: Make your CMMS implementation a success

If you see a maintenance management program in your future, there are six factors to take into consideration to ensure your implementation goes smoothly:

  • Get everyone onboard before you begin
  • Pick the right team
  • Set short and long term goals
  • Compare several software vendors
  • Understand what data to collect and why
  • Take steps to guarantee users make the most of the new system

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