Maintenance Q&As

Should we design our own CMMS or shop around for one?

Answered June 28 2019

When an organization decides to implement CMMS software, they come to a crossroads: should we design an in-house CMMS customized to our needs or shop around for an external product?

There’s no right answer here. Ultimately, the decision lies with the capabilities in your organization, your facility’s specific needs, and your desire for customization. Let’s look at some of the facets of CMMS usage and implementation to see how they differ between the self-designed and purchased mindsets.

Development timeline

Obviously, if an organization decides to design its own CMMS, it must plan out a development timeline, which can be a bit of a tough task. Software development isn’t particularly error-free, and bugs can substantially delay or even cancel launches – while the average timeline is in the 4-9 month range, the project could take far longer.

With this in mind, it’s important for an organization to understand its development team’s capabilities. Trying to set a hard and fast pace might burn out developers or otherwise force out a buggy, unfinished product. In these cases (dependent on the strength of a development team), shopping around for a product would probably be a better idea.


This is the strongest facet that the DIY perspective has going for it: the ability to completely customize the type of data you gather.

Some CMMS vendors will allow customization to a point, but at the end of the day you’re still using someone else’s software (and they made the decisions on what’s important). If your facility needs to collect very specific data or requires individualized, company-specific functionality, designing a CMMS is a good choice.

Training and support

Most CMMS vendors will provide an organization with training and support materials like webinars, how-to manuals/tutorials, and a knowledge base or FAQ as they are implemented. On the other hand, when you design a CMMS from scratch, the onus is on you to create all of these materials.

This can present a challenge if a facility doesn’t have strong writing or training staff. On the other hand, this can be a blessing if you want to design a grassroots training effort and create a lifelong culture of CMMS usage specific to that facility’s staff.

At the end of the day, there’s no real right answer. A facility needs to take a good, long look at itself to figure out whether designing or buying CMMS software is the right choice.

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