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CMMS Upgrade Insights from Richard Moore

Director, Division of Facilities and Maintenance Services, Milwaukee Public Schools

Richard W. Moore, P.E.
Director, Division of Facilities
and Maintenance Services,
Milwaukee Public Schools

What were the driving forces in deciding to upgrade the district’s CMMS?
Our former system was an of-the-shelf system that had been heavily customized. The interfaces were a constant problem, and reconciling cost with our general-ledger system became a full-time job for one individual. We also wanted a system that could integrate the major areas of our department, including: Maintenance and Repair, which deals with work-order processing and management and all related cost information; Operations, which includes preventive maintenance work orders; Design and Construction, which also deals with work orders, along with programming major capital cyclical replacement items, cost and scheduling for major projects, and space management issues; and our Environmental area, which deals with a broad range of issues, with asbestos management and compliance with Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) regulations being a major focus. Currently, some of these are standalone programs that have been developed in-house and not integrated into a comprehensive system.

What were your department’s goals for the project?
We needed to obtain an off-the-shelf system that would integrate these areas. While we understand that it will take years to take advantage of all the functionality of the new system and fully input all the information we are looking to capture into this system, we expect the base system to be functional within nine months. The system also needs to be able to reconcile with the district’s financial accounting system. We also are concentrating on minimizing the number of interfaces that will need to be developed by trying to focus on the core needs of this system. The system also needed to be easy to use because we will have about 400 users.

What technology challenges did you face in upgrading the system?
The new system will allow us to utilize newer technology, such as PDA’s. Some computers might need to be upgraded to support the new software, but because the new system is completely web-based, we anticipate this being a relatively minor issue. CADD drawings needed to be polylined in order to be able to be utilized for space management and integrated with the environmental data. None of the systems we evaluated had an AHERA compliance environmental module. This is under development, and we are able to provide input for its development.

What other challenges came along with the decision to upgrade?
We needed to decide how the system would be hosted — whether we hosted it in-house or contracted out directly with the vendor as an application service provider. Ultimately, we decided to go with hosting this in-house on our servers.

How did you coordinate your efforts with the district’s information technology (IT) department?
We had the full support of our district’s IT department, as well as our finance department. They both assigned staff to the project from the development of the request for proposal to the final selection of the vendor and the rollout of the implementation.

What is the status of the project?
We have established a steering committee, which will provide upper-lever oversight of the process, and an implementation committee, which will be instrumental in defining processes and procedures and setting up the required fields. This committee is made up of staff from our division, IT and Finance that will be primary users of the system.


posted:  8/7/2007