Your checklist for CMMS success

David Berger says long-term success depends more on change management than on technology.

By David Berger

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Most managers are familiar with “change management” and the idea that a company’s success is based on how well the company can effect change. This applies aptly to getting the most out of your CMMS following implementation. Yet despite management’s acknowledgement of the importance of change management and the tremendous capability of today’s CMMS solutions, so many companies struggle to extract maximum value from their CMMS.

Failure rates for getting long-term value out of a CMMS remain high at about 50 percent, depending on how you define “failure.” In my experience, a failed or suboptimal CMMS implementation over the long term almost never stems from a poor choice of CMMS. Rather, the human element of implementation is crucial but is often taken for granted, and short-term thinking creates problems, too. The checklist below can help detect change management issues that may be brewing as you implement a new CMMS.

Change management checklist

Be alert to warning signs of persistent change management issues, as these issues likely will make success elusive in the short and/or long term. Ask yourself the following:

  1. Is there a shared vision as to where the corporation is headed in the long term, and is it clear how the CMMS supports that vision?
  2. Are or will there be there strong signs of top management support before, during, and long after initial package installation? What about support from middle management?
  3. Are managers’ actions consistent with their words?
  4. Do change implementers understand and embrace the change at hand?
  5. Are there senior business people who have been removed from their regular duties to focus on implementing the CMMS and who will continue to support it thereafter?
  6. Have sufficient resources been allocated to CMMS implementation and ongoing support, including human resources, equipment, facilities, and external services?
  7. Has sufficient time been allocated for a successful implementation? Typically this will be six to 18 months for initial rollout and as many as five years to extract true value out of the CMMS.
  8. Is there measurement in place to determine whether the CMMS was implemented successfully? Are monitoring procedures in place to continue to track benefits realization?
  9. Is there a communications plan that provides regular updates to all stakeholders and provides a feedback mechanism for those managing CMMS implementation and ongoing support?
  10. What level of education and training is planned for each stakeholder group with respect to the nature and benefits of the changes anticipated?
  11. Is there a history of poorly implemented changes that created apathy among stakeholders?
  12. Has resistance to change brought about by implementing the CMMS been anticipated? Is there a plan for managing that resistance?
  13. Are there rewards for the early adopters of change and consequences for those who continue to resist?
  14. Is the pain of implementing and properly using the CMMS seen to be less of a pain than keeping the status quo?
  15. Are customers potentially affected by changes anticipated, and is there a plan to mitigate that risk?
  16. Are maintenance employees ready and willing to accept the changes brought about by the CMMS? What about other stakeholders?

If you have an informed answered to all of the questions above, you’re well on your way to getting the most out of your CMMS. 

The readiness model

Most CMMS implementations are based on timelines that are technology-driven, leading to change issues long after implementation. Modules and interfaces with other software are installed one by one or using the “big bang” approach – that is, a single cutover date. Technology-driven implementation can be highly disruptive and subject to much resistance from all stakeholders. 

A more-effective approach is to build a timeline based on change readiness, starting with the priority of protecting the customer from any negative impact. Most companies end with the customer, if they consider the customer at all.

For example, if a change results in a machine not being repaired, the production schedule may be adversely affected. Most companies will wait until a disruption occurs before taking action. The best approach is to make plans to ensure that no customer impact will result at any point.

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