What is a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS)?

A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is software that stores data about maintenance performed on equipment, machinery, and other assets. A CMMS eliminates the need for manual spreadsheets, consolidating all maintenance in one place.


of companies who used a CMMS to manage their assets reported seeing improvements in equipment life


but only 20% of CMMS implementations are successful


UpKeep has a 100% CMMS implementation success rate

The first CMMS

appeared around 1965 but CMMS software only became widely accessible and affordable in the 21st century

Work orders

feed data into the CMMS; this data can later be analyzed and acted upon to improve maintenance operations

Cloud-based CMMS

products are the most popular and don’t require on-premise installation

A brief history of CMMS

The first CMMS appeared around 1965 and was used by large manufacturers that owned IBM mainframe computers (the beastly kinds that are not used anymore). Technicians would log data on punchcards that were fed to the computer. Years later, they would log data on paper that was given to data entry specialists. Only in the 1980s when computers became more usable did technicians log data themselves directly into the system.

Usability is now less of an issue in the 21st century with personal computers. And a CMMS is not reserved for large manufacturers that have high maintenance budgets. Today, a CMMS is used by companies that have Internet in their facility and even the smallest maintenance budgets. This is because CMMS solutions are web-based and relatively affordable. For instance, UpKeep’s solutions start at $35/technician/month.There is even a free version

Accessibility and affordability aside, today, a CMMS is judged mainly on its features and ease of use. Usability is still an important factor because, as more features are added, CMMS solutions can become increasingly complex which decreases any chance for successful implementation.

How a CMMS works

At a high level, the CMMS is a data management system and the work order feeds data to that system. When a work order is closed, the data is processed by the system. Work orders contain data including parts and costs, wrench time, asset repaired, and time to complete. This data is then processed into reports used by maintenance managers and other departmental heads.


The work order is created

A work order is assigned to a technician and asset.


The work order is completed

The technician updates the work order with new data (parts used, costs, time spent, meter readings, checklist items, etc).


The data is processed by the CMMS

The technician updates the work order with new data (parts used, costs, time spent, meter readings, checklist items, etc).


The data is surfaced

Management runs reports that reveal labor-intensive assets, technician productivity, and maintenance costs.

Features of a CMMS

Wok order management

The work order is at the core of any CMMS, whether it is a work order for preventive maintenance, an inspection, or breakdown repair. With the CMMS, the maintenance manager can quickly assign work orders to technicians or teams. The technicians have accounts on the CMMS and get notified when a work order is assigned to them. You can also add locations, assets, parts, wrench time, costs, and other data to work orders. Completed work orders feed data to the CMMS for future reporting and analysis.

Work requests

The work request gives operators, technicians, janitors, staff, and anyone else the ability to notify maintenance management about an issue. Anyone can access an online work request portal and CMMS users can create work requests from their mobile device. It’s as easy as taking a picture of the issue, creating a description, identifying a location or asset, and clicking submit. Management is then notified by email and push notification about the request.

Enterprise asset management

A CMMS tracks the entire lifecycle of an asset—from the original purchase date until it gets decommissioned. It also holds a preventive maintenance schedule and shows a history of work orders performed on a particular asset. Some CMMS products let you track downtime and depreciation. This data allows maintenance teams to align with accounting and operations on whether an asset should be saved or sold.

Learn more about PdM.
Mobile app

Only recently did a mobile CMMS app become a popular feature among CMMS providers. Before this was offered, technicians performed double data entry. That is, they wrote information related to work orders on paper and, after completing the work order, entered it into the CMMS on a desktop. The inability to log data onsite crippled productivity with an extra step. Before mobile apps, there were web versions of CMMS solutions that technicians could access on their phone but they left much to be desired.


These are just a handful of CMMS features.

To see other features that are in demand, visit UpKeep’s feature page.

On-premise vs cloud CMMS

CMMS can be divided into two general types: on-premise and cloud. The option you choose will have a significant impact on the way you use your CMMS.

What is an on-premise CMMS?

An on-premise CMMS is an in-house software system that manages maintenance data. You often pay upfront for the installation of the system and are responsible for setting up firewalls and IT infrastructure. These systems were used before high-speed Internet and software-as-a-service (SaaS) products existed. Today, cloud CMMS products are used.

What is a cloud CMMS?

Unlike an on-premise solution, a cloud CMMS is managed by the CMMS provider, so all you need to do is focus on using the product. With a cloud CMMS—or a CMMS that is hosted on infrastructure managed by the CMMS provider—updates happen automatically. You get new features without having to install a new version of the software. With an on-premise CMMS, you must make updates to the system yourself as they become available.

Another benefit of a cloud CMMS is the ability to enter maintenance data from anywhere. A cloud CMMS lets technicians use a mobile application to view and update work orders from the repair site or anywhere else there is an Internet connection. The mobile application syncs with the main server where all maintenance data is hosted. This way, technicians don’t have to re-enter data from a desktop computer.


Computerized maintenance management systems help teams organize maintenance tasks and track maintenance activity. There are also CMMS products available that are free to use; however, many maintenance teams are still using pen and paper, spreadsheets, or no system at all according to an UpKeep survey.

With CMMS products easier than ever to use and widely available to teams with different budgets, it’s at least worth testing a CMMS.


How do I choose the best CMMS software?

PBefore investing in a CMMS, it’s important to define your goals and have a good understanding of your maintenance needs. You’ll also need to set up the infrastructure including a leader and budget. Once those things are in place, review a few options, select a solution to try, and conduct a trial run to see how the solution works for your organization before making the big commitment.

How does UpKeep’s CMMS pricing compare with other solutions?

Similar to other CMMS providers, UpKeep’s CMMS pricing structure offers different levels for different enterprise sizes. There is the free version so you can see some of the main features in action before paying anything. UpKeep’s pricing plan starts at $35 per user per month. If you’re a small to medium-sized business, you may be interested in the professional plan, which costs $60 per user per month. Our most popular plan is the business plan at $100 per user per month for medium-sized companies. The highest tier is the enterprise plan for $180 per user per month.

What types of CMMS solutions should I consider?

Many CMMS solutions are available today. Given the speed of the market, it’s important to look at cloud-based solutions. On-premise solutions are being phased out, and simply do not provide you with the flexibility and features that cloud-based, mobile solutions now offer.

How do I know that my CMMS data is being safeguarded?

Since providing a CMMS solution is the core business for a CMMS provider, security issues tend to be a high priority. Protecting a customer’s information and data must be paramount for a CMMS business to continue to thrive and grow. The advantage, however, is that a CMMS provider can embrace best-of-practice in security measures and pass along those safeguards to all their customers.

Which types of maintenance does UpKeep’s maintenance software support?

UpKeep’s CMMS solution supports several types of maintenance. Reactive or emergency maintenance work orders can be entered into the system and prioritized with the day’s tasks. UpKeep’s CMMS solution also can schedule preventive maintenance tasks ahead of time so that when weekly, monthly or quarterly inspections or maintenance tasks arise, they automatically generate work orders on the appropriate day. Finally, UpKeep can integrate with technology such as sensors, which can facilitate predictive maintenance tasks. For example, when a vibration sensor falls out of a prescribed range, a work order can be automatically generated.

How can I measure the impact of a CMMS?

It’s understandable that management wants to understand the ROI of a CMMS. Depending on your company and what areas you are trying to improve, there are many measurements and KPIs that you can employ. Here are a few major considerations:

  • According to theU.S. Department of Energy, for instance, a company can save 12 percent to 18 percent of the costs associated with repair and emergency maintenance when it switches to preventive maintenance.
  • A report from Jones Lang LaSalle states that a company can generate an ROI of 545 percent over 20-years from switching to preventive maintenance over reactive.
  • Uptime levels from plants typically employing reactive maintenance achieve an uptime of 83.5 percent while those that focus on planning, scheduling and preventive maintenance can boost that number to 98 percent update, according to Reliability Incident Management.