How to Optimize Your CMMS
Answered November 03 2020
The first fully integrated computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) was created under John Day at Alumax Mount Holly, and since then, the fully integrated CMMS has become a staple in many facilities throughout the world.
However, they don’t do everything on their own. It’s important to use them effectively if your facility is going to see improved reliability. CMMS optimization is key.
Intro: Preliminary Steps for CMMS Implementation
Before diving into how to optimize an existing CMMS, it helps to look at best practices for implementing one in the first place. Keep these items in mind:
- Implementation is everything.
- Roles and responsibilities must be defined for all users.
- All assets with equipment data and parts data should be loaded into the CMMS.
- Establish asset hierarchy.
- Define asset criticality.
- Create a CMMS user’s manual or education module and train everyone.
- The maintenance department is accountable for the use, application, and management of the system.
- The maintenance supervisor should verify all work order data before the planner inputs it.
With these items in mind, let’s look at some basic steps for optimizing your CMMS.
Step 1: Hire an Expert
The first step is to hire an expert—either an organization or an individual—who knows all the functions of a CMMS. It doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who knows your specific CMMS (though that can help), but they should know about these systems in general since that’s what’s needed to help you through the process.
The functions they should know about include the full array of maintenance processes, such as:
- Work identification (preventive maintenance (PM), predictive maintenance (PdM), operator care)
- Maintenance planning
- Maintenance scheduling
- Work execution
- Work order closeout
- FRACAS (Failure Reporting, Analysis, and Corrective Action System)
These processes compose what is called the Maintenance Continuous Improvement Loop. Each step is crucial. As such, the expert you hire should be familiar with each of these steps in order to make sure your CMMS optimization efforts are successful.
Step 2: Create a CMMS Optimization Plan with All Stakeholders
The next step is to create a CMMS optimization plan with all stakeholders.
Use Project Management Software
It’s best to use a project management software system to create and manage your plan. That way, you can have the plan posted up on a screen for everyone to see. It should be as visible as possible, so that no one is left in a vacuum.
The stakeholders involved include many people within your organization, but they could also include outside consultants as well. Some examples of stakeholders include:
- Plant manager
- Maintenance manager
- Engineering manager
A good rule of thumb for figuring out who your stakeholders are is to determine who is authorized to sign a check.
In addition to stakeholders, define the steps needed to optimize your CMMS, complete with targets, goals, and due dates.
Finally, if you don’t have existing maintenance process maps (MPMs), create or purchase them. MPMs can be found online or created from scratch. It’s typically best to maintain them through some form of software where they can be adjusted and managed as needed.
Use the RACI Process to Identify Roles and Responsibilities
Finally, make sure the roles and responsibilities of each stakeholder are outlined. A good way to do this is to meet with everyone involved and go through the RACI process (also known as making a responsibility assignment matrix).
The way this process works is you outline each expected outcome for your CMMS and determine who plays what role in achieving that outcome. The roles and responsibilities are:
- Responsible (R) – Those who carry out the task, or “the doers.”
- Accountable (A) – The person who is ultimately accountable, or “where the buck stops.”
- Consulted (C) – The people kept “in the loop.” Communication here is two-way.
- Informed (I) – The people kept up to date. Communication here is one-way.
By defining roles and responsibilities in this way, it makes it clear to the whole team how they’re going to work together when optimizing your CMMS.
Step 3: Create a Training Education Plan for All Stakeholders
Next comes creating an education plan. The goal here is to change people’s behavior and knowledge. Often, that will mean showing them what a good CMMS can do for them.
Part of your training will involve testing. Testing is necessary to determine whether you have successfully transferred knowledge, and it can also be used to gauge someone’s existing knowledge prior to training.
Use an Expert to Educate Your Stakeholders
Upon creating an education plan for your stakeholders, educate them through different methods targeted at your audience. It’s best to have a maintenance expert provide that training.
Toolbox talks can be an effective way to provide training since they’re brief, single-point lessons that can be shared at the start of a shift or meeting.
Post a Dictionary of Terms
Many terms and words may be interpreted differently by different people, so it’s important to make sure you have clear definitions for those terms posted where everyone can see them. A great resource for definitions is SMRP since they define numerous maintenance terms clearly and concisely.
Without clear definitions, you’re left with everyone’s opinion.
Step 4: Execute and Manage the Plan
After creating an education plan, it’s time to execute and manage your CMMS optimization plan. That starts with educating all stakeholders on what they must do, why they have to do it, and how they should carry it out.
Update Your Project Software
As you execute your plan, use your project management software to track your progress. Update it weekly. A great way to do that is to choose one of your most driven technicians and assign them a work order to update the program.
Identify Leading and Lagging KPIs
Next, identify leading and lagging key performance indicators (KPIs) that will be impacted by your CMMS optimization. Leading indicators are those KPIs that lead to results, whereas lagging indicators are the results.
Post a Project Plan Board
You’ll want to make those KPIs visible since they let everyone know about your progress. Make them as “in your face” as possible, either by putting them on large charts or displaying them on plant monitors. By having that information visible, you’ll help get your team more excited about your new CMMS execution plan.
CMMS Execution Plan Summarized
The specifics of your CMMS execution plan will depend on your facility, but the general steps are:
- Define your expected outcome
- Verify asset hierarchy using ISO 14224 standards
- Walk down assets and collect asset information
- Restructure your CMMS data based on collected information
- Verify maintenance process maps
- Establish leading and lagging KPIs
While this process looks simple on the surface, it can get very complex. Nevertheless, each step is important.
Step 5: Verify Your Current Maintenance Process
As you execute your CMMS optimization plan, you’ll need to verify your current maintenance process. This starts with making sure you have a proactive maintenance process in place.
If maintenance in your facility is largely proactive, then the best thing you can do is optimize it. On the other hand, if you mainly perform reactive maintenance, then you’ll need to determine what you need to do to become more proactive.
It’s important to paint a picture of what this looks like. Take time to map and verify all the steps it will take to reform your processes, and create process maps to support those changes. Without a clear plan, you won’t end up getting where you need to go.
Your typical proactive maintenance process looks like this:
- PM/PdM/operator care inspections
- Maintenance planning
- Maintenance scheduling
- Work execution
You’ll need to define metrics for each step in your maintenance process. Those metrics will tell you how on-track you are with maintaining a proactive process. For instance, a good metric for PM/PdM/inspections is PM/PdM compliance. The effectiveness of maintenance planning and scheduling can be measured with percentage of planned work and schedule compliance respectively.
These metrics will tell you what’s being managed effectively. If any of the steps in your process are being skipped or performed below standard—causing leading indicators to drop—it will create defects that negatively impact lagging indicators. With that information, you’ll be able to make needed changes.
Step 6: Create KPI Dashboards for Each Process
Finally, you’ll need to create a KPI dashboard for each process. Again, these will consist of leading and lagging indicators.
Leading indicators might include:
- Percentage of planned work
- PM compliance
- Maintenance rework
- Vendor efficiency
- Inventory accuracy
- Inventory turns
If those are managed effectively, then your lagging indicators should see improvement. Lagging indicators include:
- Schedule compliance
- Maintenance costs
- Overall equipment effectiveness
The purpose of configuring KPI dashboards to show these metrics is to create a scoreboard for your CMMS optimization. When your maintenance team is able to see your current score, they’ll be more engaged in improving it. As with any scoreboard, you want it to be highly visible.
The way your score fluctuates in any particular area will give you clues on to how to improve. For instance, large amounts of maintenance rework might be the result of improperly done inspections, ineffective PMs, poor planning and scheduling, and so forth.
When the above steps are done, your next steps will involve verifying that you have everything in place. These may include the following:
Confirm That Your Current KPIs Match What’s Going On in Your Plant
If what you see in your plant doesn’t match your KPIs, then you have a problem that needs to be fixed.
Make Sure You Have Effective Maintenance Process Maps
If you don’t have MPMs already, create some. Alternatively, find some online and make any needed adjustments. They don’t have to be complicated, but they do need to match your processes.
Create a Simple CMMS Users Guide
Again, simplicity is important here. No one is going to read through a massive volume. A simple one-page guide on how to do important functions—complete with screenshots—is usually sufficient for most users.
Make Sure RACI Charts Are Complete
When creating your RACI charts, make sure these stakeholders are present:
- Maintenance planner or scheduler
- Maintenance manager
- Production supervisor (if possible)
- Maintenance supervisor
- Storeroom supervisor or attendant
- An operator (if possible)
- Your most obstinate technician
The last one can help improve buy-in. Basically, if you can get your most strong-willed technician on board, you’ll make buy-in much easier.
While this may seem like a great deal to work through, just remember that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step” (Lao Tzu, 600BC). With that in mind, figure out the best first step for your facility and start working from there.
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What is asset hierarchy in maintenance software and why does it matter?
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Should we design our own CMMS or shop around for one?
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What are the main challenges of facility management software?
The main challenges of facility management software are: difficulty keeping up with technology changes, fragmented nature, and poor quality of entered data.
What is the difference between CAFM and CMMS?
The difference between computer-aided facility management (CAFM) software and CMMS software has to do with scope and focus.
What is CAFM software?
CAFM software gives facilities managers the tools to monitor assets, schedule maintenance and repairs, track work orders, and meet compliance requirements.
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When a CMMS is implemented properly, an organization can start to gather some really amazing data. Pre-empt bad data by encouraging solid data input.
Does my facility NEED CMMS software?
There's a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is: not technically, though it helps. The long answer is slightly different.
What can my facility do if our CMMS implementation is not going as planned?
While CMMS implementation is mostly a game of preventive action in regard to failure, that doesn't mean there are no options when a facility's CMMS project is sinking.
How should I evaluate a CMMS?
The absence or presence of features can make or break a CMMS, it's important to consider the vendor's implementation plan, and availability of training.
What are good practices for a CMMS vendor to facility relationship?
With any CMMS vendor, the key to a good vendor-to-facility relationship is open lines of communication and plainly stated goals.
How do I create awareness of my facility’s new CMMS?
Even when an organization properly implements CMMS software, there's no guarantee that employees will begin using it of their own accord.
How do you justify the cost of purchasing a new CMMS system?
Justifying the cost of purchasing a new CMMS system can be done by comparing the value that the CMMS adds to the company, to the total cost of the CMMS system.
What are some examples of how CMMS software is used in different industries?
CMMS software is a tool for planning, scheduling, and tracking maintenance work, which happens in nearly every industry from manufacturing to restaurants.
How can maintenance software help reduce downtime?
There are a few ways I’ve seen maintenance software help reduce downtime, and they all come down to streamlining your maintenance processes.
Should I buy on premise or cloud based maintenance software?
Eventually, all maintenance software will be cloud-based. However, the timing of moving may depend on your facility and its current needs and situation.
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Most people think about managers when it comes to CMMS buy-in, but it's equally important to make sure that your technicians approve of CMMS implementation.
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There are four really huge ways to mess up a CMMS implementation, and most failed projects suffer from one or more of them.
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A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) delivers a wide range of benefits to any business that has to repair, inspect, and maintain equipment.
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Start with the "crawl, walk, then run" mentality to justify maintenance costs to managers, who may not see as much obvious value from CMMS software.
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What software do I need to use for facility maintenance?
However, for the sake of this question, I’ll share some general features that you should be looking for in your facility maintenance software solution.
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