Here are a few general tips to consider when selecting a CMMS vendor:
- Define the scope of what you need your CMMS to do. Can it be accomplished with off-the shelf software? Do you require customized reports? Do you expect your system needs to expand in the future, and if so, how soon? Do you need to integrate with other systems?
- Clearly delineate workflows and test procedures for verification of software functionality. Set implementation milestones, and do not proceed until you're satisfied with the results.
- Require the vendor to assign a single project manager. Someone who just came in to replace the person who was there last week has a whole new learning curve. You're not there to help the vendor's latest project manager figure out what's going on; this person is there to make sure the CMMS is not only satisfying your needs, but satisfying the needs you didn't even know you had.
- Collaborate with your IT people. Don't present the CMMS as something they have to learn, but rather, bring your IT team in from the start to help define and design the system. Employee buy-in and training are essential to successful adoption of a major new CMMS.
- Negotiate on value, not price. Okay, price is important. But the idea is to achieve value for what you pay. Be clear on how a CMMS solution improves your bottom line and the anticipated ROI. That should be a critical decision point. A less costly system may require a lower initial outlay, but if it doesn't achieve your objectives, you've spent money for nothing. Similarly, a system that has tons of bells and whistles won't improve your bottom line if you really don't need all those features.
- Involve people on your end who understand the workflows. Nobody knows better what happens on the shop floor than the people who work there. Involve them from the get-go to define workflows and needs. Don't impose a solution from on high that everyone must conform to, especially if that solution doesn't address what's actually going on.
- Keep it simple. There' no need to hire expensive consultants or purchase an expensive CMMS unless you require a custom solution, or the potential savings are large enough to warrant it. Otherwise, find a good low-cost CMMS to start and learn from. For a small business, there are many that you can download from the Internet for under $300 and also set up yourself. Once your maintenance department becomes comfortable with computerized maintenance scheduling and tracking, you can go to the next level-if your needs demand it.
There's a wide range of CMMS vendors to choose from. The comparison checklist below can help you determine what these different vendors have to offer.