Problems and solutions for CMMS

These exhaustive survey results reveal the problems readers have with their CMMS and the system capabilities they find most critical for solving them.  Learn from your peers and read what they have to say about CMMS.

By David Berger, P.Eng., contributing editor

1 of 4 < 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 View on one page


It’s common knowledge that a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is helpful for organizing and tracking maintenance activities and expenses, and almost essential for gathering the data needed to advance to reliability-centered maintenance. Virtually all but the smallest of facilities are using some form of software-based maintenance recordkeeping.

But systems range widely in cost, capabilities and level of integration with business systems. Does your system do what it should to help keep maintenance costs down and asset values up?
 We recently asked subscribers involved with specifying and using maintenance management software a number of questions about their CMMS. Here are the highlights of the survey results and what we understand them to say about the current status, as well as the future of computerized maintenance management.


Which key business issues does the CMMS address?
It’s not surprising that the top two business issues the CMMS addresses are improvement of asset performance and availability (Table 1). After all, 56% of respondents stated that there are more than 30 maintenance employees in their organization, implying a relatively asset-intensive environment. Furthermore, about 70% of respondents have a maintenance-related job title such as maintenance manager (40%) or reliability engineer (10%). Maintenance departments have historically focused on assets as the area of greatest improvement potential. (See Asset Manager on p. 21 for more information about asset-based measures.)

                                                                              Table 1: Most Important Issues


 Response %

 Importance(overall rank)

Improve asset performance



Foster a culture of productivity and reliability improvement



Improve labor productivity 



Increase asset availability 



Reduce MRO inventory costs



Decrease total cost of ownership (TCO)



Enhance maintenance visibility



Better capital project cost and risk management



Integrate asset management with other business processes



Ranked No. 3 is “Fostering a culture of productivity and reliability improvement,” which, like the top two issues, has an asset focus implied by the term “reliability.” However, the issue is worded in the form of a cultural shift, i.e., companies are struggling to move away from the shackles of a firefighting mentality to the relative calm and savings opportunities afforded by a more planned environment. By ranking this issue third, respondents are recognizing that much of the difficulty lies in changing the attitude and behavior of maintenance, engineering and operations personnel at all levels, not just working directly with the assets themselves.

The fourth-place issue, labor productivity, is a favorite of management. It seems people will always be in the spotlight, even when labor costs are a relatively small proportion of the total cost. This is because labor can be either the bane of management’s existence or, conversely, save a company millions of dollars by say, solving an expensive problem. The three key measures of labor productivity are:

• Utilization (i.e. percent productive, as opposed to percent non-value-added like wait time).
• Performance (i.e. percent of standard).
• Effectiveness (includes sub-measures such as percent contracted, overtime, training, innovation, etc.).

In fifth place is one of the most frustrating issues for some maintenance managers: how to enhance maintenance visibility. Even in asset-intensive industries, some senior management teams have yet to exploit the vast improvement opportunity arising from an asset-management focus. To get top management’s attention, maintenance management must develop a comprehensive asset-management strategy in conjunction with Operations and Engineering, and show how meeting reasonable performance targets could bring huge savings. To meet these targets, which are aligned with corporate goals and objectives, senior management must approve key action items; for example, hiring a maintenance planner or purchasing a new CMMS. Joining forces with Operations and Engineering, as well as quantifying the benefits in language that is familiar to top management, enhances the visibility of maintenance.

1 of 4 < 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 View on one page
Show Comments
Hide Comments

Join the discussion

We welcome your thoughtful comments.
All comments will display your user name.

Want to participate in the discussion?

Register for free

Log in for complete access.


No one has commented on this page yet.

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments