CMMS: Managers Need to Focus on Software Implementation
You have identified the new or upgraded computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) that best meets your organization's needs. You have determined the needed resources to ensure the project's success. Top management has bought into the project. Mission accomplished, right?
In too many maintenance and engineering departments, the answer is yes, all bases covered.
Unfortunately, say CMMS developers, managers generally pay too little attention to implementation, the often-laborious process of putting the CMMS into operation. Too often, this phase takes a back seat to the specification and actual operation. Managers tend to rank it lower on the priority list in favor of getting the CMMS to produce results as quickly as possible. As a result, many installations either fail outright or never live up to expectations.
To avoid these problems, developers preach patience, as well as a commitment to proper implementation.
"We can say with confidence that the most successful implementations involve dedication to proper installation and training," says Pat Conroy with MicroMain Corp. "If you follow the process and have a commitment from upper management, implementation will be successful."
Bumps in the Road
Managers in institutional and commercial facilities run into a variety of complications and hurdles during CMMS implementation. In some cases, they allow day-to-day responsibilities — theirs and those of front-line technicians — to get in the way of implementation.
Managers "still have the responsibility of managing their technicians," says Ric Reyna with CyberMetrics Corp. "The main focus continues to be getting through the day, including handling all the daily tasks and emergencies."
Other managers underestimate the demands of implementation, most notably the resources necessary to accomplish it successfully.
"A lot of managers think they can undertake (implementation) on their own," says Craig Miller with Ashcom Technologies. "They're used to doing things a certain way, and they don't want to admit this is something they can't handle."
Miller also points to a lack of preparation among managers in determining the specific goals the CMMS must help the department accomplish.
"Unrealistic expectations are a real problem," he says, adding these can come from managers, as well as consultants. "So many consultants have never turned a wrench, so even they don't know what to expect."
Problems also can arise from a disconnect between top management and those overseeing the new or upgraded CMMS.
Miller says top executives often drive the CMMS project from the top down, even though implementation occurs from the bottom up — a situation that can lead to problems if executives do not consult managers and make decisions without understanding the conditions in the field. Those decisions can cause implementation and operation problems, such as a printer behind a locked door and one computer for 10 workers.