Thought Leadership

7 Reasons Why a CMMS Can Fail with Both Maintenance & Management

CMMS implementations can start with high hopes yet end in tears. Learn how to avoid the most common pitfalls.

Industrial operators count on computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) to keep equipment and physical assets in top condition. CMMS are extremely common across any industry with many physical assets: from obvious ones like factories and power plants to hotels and amusement parks. However, it’s not uncommon to see operators experience less-than-expected results, months of painful implementation and internal resistance. Often, you’re left with neither the “maintenance” nor the “management” you hoped for.

Today, hundreds of locations have initialized their CMMS with Makini: from oil platforms to your local McDonald’s. We’ve identified seven root causes for an unsuccessful implementation. Removing these will put you back on the happy path, and get your ops digitized the right way :)

#1 - Poor user experience

As a product person, I get it – you have so many ideas and signals on how to build your CMMS. The average floor technician or maintenance manager doesn’t care for a lot of those long list of features though. If you serve them with a complicated and hard-to-learn workflow, they will just stick with what they know. It’s important to simplify wherever possible.

Can you minimize clicks, reduce form fields, and auto-populate data? Wherever possible, can you make intelligent “default” choices for your user? Can you find analogies to how users work(ed) in the offline world? If you answer “yes” to any of these, you should do it. Also, streamline approvals and sign-offs to really showcase the value-add of your system.

#2 - Neglecting buy-in beyond leadership

Organizational culture is something you can’t afford to ignore. So much time is typically spent convincing upper management to adopt a new way of working, but you can’t stop there. The classic Enterprise software failure mode is selling to the VPs/C-levels without demonstrating how it improves the lives of the rest of the organization who will be the actual end user.

Engage technical managers, superintendents, supervisors, and inventory managers early on. They will interact with the system on a daily basis and are critical too. Treat them as partners with shared accountability during implementation. If possible, work with “pilot” teams and use their wins and learnings to grow.

#3 - Lack of alignment

It can get messy out there pretty quickly. We’ve seen companies end up with several copies of the system, with data locked in silos across copies. We’ve seen companies end up with a feature A in one CMMS that is feature B in another. The root cause is usually the same: there is a lack of alignment across people in charge of implementation. The result: a tangled web of disconnected and inconsistent data, which defeats the purpose of setting up a CMMS in the first place.

“Buy-in” runs deeper than a signature or a checkbox. Your team needs a strategic vision of how operations will improve with your maintenance management software. That’s how we bring everyone together to work on the same goal.

#4 - Doing everything everywhere all at once

Like most digitization initiatives, implementing CMMS is a change management project. It can get big and hard to manage – and remember: if things go wrong, bad news travels fast. Break it down into manageable phases with clear milestones.

Prioritize time-to-value and rollout CMMS features that deliver quick wins. Highlight and celebrate these wins to boost team morale. It will generate excitement in the organization and further buy-in (see #2 above) which will make the next phase of implementation so much easier.

#5 - Undefined implementation outcomes

One key aspect of CMMS is the data generated by the system. Achieving the ROI means using this data to improve an organization's maintenance strategy. It isn’t enough to simply implement a CMMS because it’s new and more efficient. What specific business objectives can you achieve with this transformation?

It is important to define specific outcomes and metrics that align with your organization's strategy. For example: ”‘reduce asset maintenance costs by 10%”. You can monitor metrics such as mean-time-to-repair and mean-time-between-failures and see if 10% is reasonable. Then track progress towards your desired outcome. Based on real-time data generated by the CMMS, you can then revise your equipment maintenance management strategy to continue making progress towards your strategic goals.

#6 - Long, painful implementation

Getting manufacturer data into the new CMMS is by far the most common reason for slow implementation that we’ve observed at Makini. If done manually, data generation alone can add months to timelines. Automate this as much as possible. IT can act as a bottleneck too, especially with on-premises CMMS. Tune up IT readiness for infrastructure setup and procure what you need in advance.

On top of that, maintenance managers and superintendents might resist taking on a new CMMS out of fear of slow deployment. Complaints like, “We tried this before and it took ten times longer than planned!” are common. It’s true that when done wrong, installation, configuration, and training can take months. But they don’t have to. 

Acknowledge stakeholder concerns and make it clear you are aware of things that can make implementation lengthy and painful. Then comfort them with a viable solution for both data population and IT readiness that will ensure quick and smooth rollout. When possible, look for examples from peers who have made similar transformations. It will save time two-fold: from not having to deal with the issues themselves, and from reducing stakeholder resistance.

#7 - Accurate and complete data population

Nearly 77% of implementations happen when an operator already has some form of a maintenance system in place: spreadsheets or another CMMS. Migrating to a more modern or sophisticated CMMS like UpKeep or IBM Maximo can be a slow, expensive process with low-quality data at the other end. Common problems include missing or incomplete data, data lost in transit, or incompatible data. The remaining 23% need to initialize the data in their new CMMS from scratch. Workers have to manually input manufacturer data from libraries of PDFs or paper manuals for thousands of machines and parts. This requires time and effort to source and enter the data, not to mention manual errors and outdated data creeping in.

Launching the CMMS with poor data can create asset maintenance blind spots on your factory floors, cargo ships, or machine shops. These issues can be really difficult to detect and correct months later.

To learn more about how quality of data produced during CMMS implementation impacts value you will get from the system, read our earlier post: “Don't kill your CMMS ROI with bad data: here's why quality is vital.”

The Key to CMMS Success: Makini Integrated OEM Libraries

Makini can’t fix the UX of the system you have chosen, or get internal buy-in on your behalf, but we can definitely help you avoid pitfalls from bad implementation. Setting up a CMMS with Makini is different. It only takes a couple of weeks, in some cases only a day. Also, the data you get is superior quality.

Our secret? We have built integrated OEM libraries with catalogs from more than 1600 manufacturers, and built integrations with the majority of CMMS and EAM products. You can swiftly generate maintenance plans and spare part lists directly from the equipment manufacturer databases and inject them right into your system. If you are about to implement a CMMS, book a demo and let us show you how to get it done quickly and successfully.

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