CMMS is not a Four-Letter Word

man angry at computer-facility-management-consulting-consultant-cmms-facilities-training-education-ifma-fm360-rimerWith implementation failure rates ranging from 50% to 80%, it is no wonder that many may consider “CMMS” a four-letter word. In my experience, I have seen numerous failed Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) implementations or very slow implementations (some of you are nodding in agreement…). Additionally, I have rarely seen an organization robustly using their CMMS; most are using just a feature or two of these powerful systems. It is like using just the bottle opener on your Leatherman – it can do so much more; couple that with duct tape and you are unstoppable…

There are many reasons for failed implementations or under-utilized CMMS. Below are a few of the most common that I have seen, of which I am sure you can relate.

Wrong System for the Job

How many of you are currently using your IT department’s work ticket system to manage your work orders? Okay, put your hands down. That is all too common. IT Systems and the like are good for managing service requests, but they fall way short on providing the business tool that you need in a CMMS.

Money to Buy It, but No Time or Help to Implement It

How many of you are in your ump-teen month of implementing your CMMS? Going on years, perhaps… Still working to get your equipment and/or maintenance schedules loaded into the system – in your spare time… Don’t worry, you are not alone. Unfortunately, this is a common state of most CMMS implementations. You finally get your manager’s approval to buy a CMMS and maybe even some training, but you don’t get any help with setup or additional administrative support needed to implement and maintain a CMMS. The truth of it is, the delayed or failed start of your CMMS will make it all the more difficult for you to request additional funding because you didn’t do well with what they already invested – a double whammy… You can’t do it alone; you need help!

Old, Slow System

There are some that implemented a CMMS years ago, but have not been able to upgrade it over time (possibly because they customized it too much making upgrades costly) or the software is no longer supported (eventually that Windows 95 machine will die…). It is also tough to upgrade because so much has been invested in the old system and you do not want to lose the data – plus change is hard. But you and your organization must advance with the times – there is better out there.


How many of you couldn’t get management’s approval to buy a CMMS so you built one yourself? How flat is your forehead from beating it against the wall trying to become an Excel or Access guru? Yep, I’ve been there too… I have seen some pretty good ones, I might add. However, as facility managers, our jobs are not to be database administrators or IT gurus (albeit that hat does get thrown at us often). We have to pull ourselves out of those weeds so that we can focus on the strategic, business initiatives of our facility organization. I’m all for organic, but now with a CMMS…

Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Lastly, lack of knowing any better is probably the most common reason for failed or under-utilized CMMS installations. Most don’t know how powerful a CMMS is or how it could be used to manage day-to-day operations and provide key business information for managing your facilities and upper management. Resolving this particular problem is the reason I am such a proponent for our conferences and IFMA’s training courses.

The Good News (Two more four-letter words…)

The above mentioned reasons for failed or under-utilized CMMS are common and thus could be easily remedied through knowledge sharing, education, and one-on-one consulting.

To learn more about the value of a CMMS and how to successfully select and implement one, read CMMS: Realizing the Value as published in the March/April 2014 edition of IFMA’s Facility Management Journal.  Additionally, you can watch FM360’s FREE webinar on Leveraging a CMMS to Drive Better Business Decisions.

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