Software guide: Selecting the right CMMS

Published:  08 July, 2011

 Standfirst: Managing maintenance effectively and keeping equipment running is vital to business success and the right CMMS is the best way to do that. David Hipkin, managing director of SoftSols Group, has been in the CMMS business for nearly 30 years since starting his career working with a mainframe based CMMS developed for BP. Here he looks at how to pick the right system and how to get the best out of it.


Implementing a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) should make your life easier. You need to know what your objectives are and focus on the desired outputs to make sure the proposed solution can deliver the results. A CMMS could for example help you: minimise downtime, build up a maintenance and engineering knowledge-base and generate auditable records for compliance. But not all CMMS’s are created equal, a poorly selected and implemented system could cause you more headaches than sticking with a super low-tech paper-based one.


Manual maintenance management v computerised systems

Many businesses still try and run their maintenance systems based on manual records and home grown spread sheets. This approach is often dependant on one key member of staff which means that the really valuable engineering experience about the plant is retained in one individual’s head. To keep this knowledge, the organisation cannot afford to let its key staff leave –a dangerous and frightening position for any company.

Paper-based systems can capture a lot of data, but to get anything worthwhile from the paper means many hours spent on administration and analysis instead of focusing on maintenance improvement activities.

A good computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) allows for the effective capture and manipulation of data, resulting in valuable management information, which can then be widely distributed to key staff within the organisation to drive business improvement.


Five must-haves of an outstanding CMMS:

  1. 1.       Easy to use: it should offer a simple and straight-forward user interface to input and extract information. If your engineers don’t feel happy with the system they will find a way not to use it.
  2. 2.       Flexible and easy to customise: the way  to make the system easy to use is to ensure that it can be configured for each user group to ensure they only have access to the information and tools that are relevant to them.
  3. 3.       KPI driven – the system should present a wide range of live Key Performance Indicators that can be tailored to monitor your key metrics for success. These will provide instant feedback on whether you are meeting your business objectives and should allow direct drill down to the relevant records in the CMMS to drive improvement activity.
  4. 4.       Comprehensive: the CMMS that you choose should incorporate the right range of features. Comprehensive does not mean Complex and a well-designed CMMS should be able to provide the core features for maintenance planning, equipment and asset management and inventory and spare parts administration in a simple well integrated solution. Avoid solutions where you have to log in and out of various modules to find the information you need, the data should always be accessible with just one or two mouse clicks.
  5. 5.       Excellent support: Whatever the size of the organisation, you need to be able to count on advice, support, training and all the benefits of a partner organisation which has a culture based on listening to customer needs.

A few nice to haves:

  • ·         Browser-basedthis will allow all the functionality to be securely accessed from any PC without the need for software installation on each machine. With the rapid growth in tablets and mobile devices a well-designed browser solution really opens up the option for providing maintenance information at your user’s finger tips.
  • Mobile and accessible anywhereyou can’t always be connected to the network as WIFI and the Internet are not often available in the dark corners of the plant room. An online / offline solution based on rugged mobile devices will allow your engineers to update work order information as they complete jobs and the data will synchronise as soon as connectivity is restored. 


Five things the right CMMS could do for you:

  1. 1.       Improved safety: This is a key issue for every organisation. More reliable assets and well managed work processes mean fewer accidents. Furthermore, a good CMMS system enables you to easily prove that maintenance was carried out as planned.
  2. 2.       Extended asset life and reduced capital expenditure

By maintaining assets in excellent condition, their useful life is extended. The longer they operate well the less capital expenditure you need to make on new equipment.

  1. 3.       Increase asset availability

By ensuring that your assets are always working when you need them you can avoid expensive downtime and realise higher productivity.

  1. 4.       Improved service levels

When less goes wrong, your teams have more time to get things right and improve service.

  1. 5.       Improved workforce morale

Less downtime means a more efficient operation and higher standards of output. (Everyone’s happier when things are going well!)


It can be affordable:

A well planned CMMS implementation can deliver a significant return on investment with some well-established savings recognised within the CMM industry. Planning the project carefully and selecting your solution wisely will help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure your project is not just another failed IT implementation.

The choice of software in the industry and range of products and prices can however be bewildering for the uninformed. With our 30 years of experience in the industry we have focussed on delivering a state of the art system that really does offer “Simple Affordable Maintenance” to organisations large and small.

SoftSols Group’s CMMS, Agility is used by organisations of all sizes, from small maintenance departments to multi-site corporate businesses. Many of our implementations have started with a small proof of concept deployment within one department or site which could easily be cost justified. The results have then spoken for themselves leading to global roll out of the software in some of the world’s largest manufacturing businesses.

If you find the right CMMS for your business and implement it well, you can definitely make some significant returns on a very affordable investment which is surely good news in the current economic climate.


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