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5 Steps to Selecting Software the Right Way

Paul Lachance
  • Nov 11, 2020
  • 5 minutes

Selecting software that has the potential to dramatically improve your business operations and be a part of your organization for years should not be taken lightly. At the same time, the process should not be overwhelming, but instead a good opportunity to rally your team to focus on an improvement project that controls costs, improves your operations and drives profitability.

Before you start a software search, you must ask yourself a few questions:

Why are we doing this? 

Not everyone recognizes they need a computerized maintenance management system (or CMMS) – either for the first time or to replace ineffective software. They live with prematurely failing assets, inefficiently managed maintenance teams and poorly run stockrooms. Since you are reading this, you have likely already concluded that you want a more lean and efficient maintenance team and resulting improved costs and morale.

A well-implemented CMMS can really pay off. 


Working clockwise, starting in upper left: 

  • Client XYZ sees significant reduction in the # hours per corrective maintenance work order, moving from 3+ hours to under 1 hour in a 3-year time period. This will reduce downtime and optimize labor. 

  • As Client XYZ moved to a more proactive environment, they saw significant cost savings. Corrective maintenance work orders are much more costly than preventive ($400 vs. $52). As they shift their PM/CM ratio, each 1% gives an annual savings of $26K. 

  • Client XYZ was able to significantly reduce overall maintenance-related spend by more than $2M over a 3-year period. 

If you are having a hard time coming up with concrete example of “why,” but that little voice in your head tells you 'we must be able to do better' – listen to it!

And trust that with research (internal and external), the evidence will overwhelmingly show that a CMMS will make you a better organization. I will often suggest to operations professionals to have their team make a list of “hopes, wishes and desires” for better operations. These lists often have overlap and make for a great start identifying where you can improve.

Who are you doing this for?

Implementing a CMMS benefits the whole organization. Even beyond when you factor the ripple effect to your customers and vendors. Most often a CMMS search is driven from a set of problems. Some examples:

  • “Had a terrible breakdown issue affecting operations or safety that angered our senior management” 

  • “Our spare parts cost is out of hand”

  • “Failed a compliance audit”

  • “We have too much overtime”

Organizations that “hope” their maintenance will run smooth without really planning ahead are often in these situations. Different members of your organization will have different goals:

  • Senior leadership/finance will desire improved cost controls, reduced needless capital expenses and resulting profitability. 

  • Maintenance will want a more organized proactive environment (vs. firefighting), where the team is safe and efficient.   

  • Your clients (teachers, students, community members, production teams, patients or residents) will want their facilities and assets to be available and running smoothly at all times they are needed.   

All of these can be accomplished with a well-implemented CMMS. 

How will we approach a CMMS search?

Here are five factors you should consider when going through a CMMS search. 

1. Make a list of the “whys” 

Better described as “goals and objectives,” you need a solid starting point as to why you are looking for CMMS (new or replacing existing) in the first place. The worst possible “why” I have heard is “management says I have to.” You need to openly discuss and list the pain points that are driving the need. These can be painful conversations, as it can lead to finger-pointing.  It is important that this not be a personal gripe session, but open communication which will ultimately lead to a prioritized list of areas you need to address to improve your operations and get to those promised successes a good, well-implemented CMMS can give you.

2. Build the right evaluation team

You can’t make the “list of whys” if you do not have proper representation from the whole team. Some of the worst CMMS implementation stories I have personally heard is when the maintenance team shows up for work on a Monday and management calls them into a meeting so they can see the new CMMS they will begin using that day.

Appropriate diverse representation is key. You need the voices and needs from a combination of management, operations, engineering, safety, IT, etc. It’s especially useful when you have representation from actual end-users. Will they like the software? Will it serve their needs?  Will it be easy to use?  A proper balance is key from all stakeholders.  And you also get the benefit of having “champions” to help roll the software out when the time is right.

Explore our infographic around 4 tips for getting buy-in with new technology.

3. Do your research

Once you have a handle on 1 & 2, research can help you focus. The internet makes this easy, but it still takes time. A combination of looking at software vendor websites, third-party review sites, recorded webinars and other online resources will help you find the right solutions to take a closer look.

Ultimately, you should engage with vendors that have a close match to your needs. Some key points to consider:

  • Does the software have the features/benefits to match against your goals and objectives? This is essential.  Don’t be dazzled by some features “that look cool” if the software can’t ultimately solve your problems.

  • Make sure the software can scale with your growth. People often want the least expensive “get the job done” CMMS, but if it can’t scale when you grow and you have to replace it, you will have expensive disruption starting over.

  • Spend time with the vendor. See a demo and learn about the organization – do you see them as a partner? They should be!

4. It’s not just software

A successful CMMS implementation requires more than quality software. You need a partner that can help you get it working and provide the benefits you need. In my experience, the majority of unhappy CMMS users can often be linked back to a poor implementation. Make sure the software provider you select has quality implementation consulting, training, data migration, integration and ongoing support. Yes, this may take more time and possibly some extra dollars up front, but it is an insurance on your successful implementation and speeds up your ROI or return on investment.

Learn more about our 3-step software implementation process.

5. Find a long-term partner

Find a partner that has a proven track record of success. This includes quality software and services. You plan to be in business and grow for many years to come – your CMMS partner should as well.

Selecting a CMMS is much more than a software search. It is a journey where, as a team, you communicate, collaborate and identify where you can improve your maintenance operations.

It is a process that will help your team operate more “lean” and efficiently, as well as improve morale. And don’t forget the major cost savings and resulting profitability!

Read our full Guide to Getting Buy-In with New Technology to help you on your software journey.  

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