A different perspective on CMMS purchasing

March 7, 2006
This Web-exclusive column from Ben Keith gives a first-hand view into CMMS. You might be surprised what you can learn from a 20-year old telemarketer.

It’s likely if you’re reading this article you either own, want to buy, or are trying to sell a CMMS. No doubt some will agree with the following information and some flagrantly will not, calling into question my expertise, education and ‘slanted’ viewpoint, among other things. Let me help you out before you spend too much time assuming those unknowns. I’m 20 years old, work as a glorified telemarketer and know 10 times as much about purchasing a CMMS than 90% of those who do.

Now if you want to dismiss this as another egotistical youth attempting to accomplish some form of self-glorification, well, I couldn’t blame you. Frankly, I’m sick of those types too. However, in this case I’m honestly stating facts. As you read the article, you might agree with me.

The following article discusses the first step towards CMMS success. Subsequent articles will define further steps of my formula for CMMS success. Now as I lay these out, you may argue that the steps listed should be placed in a different order or shouldn’t exist at all.  All I can ask is that you hear a side of the story not often considered. Not that of a developer, the man who loves to talk about his prize winning brain child. Not a consultant who can only tell you about cases of individuals who have had the time and money to pay his high hourly wage. Not even that of an end user,  who has spent years banging on a variety of applications. I’m asking you to consider a telemarketer’s viewpoint. Why? Because I’m the foot soldier of the CMMS purchasing world and, believe it or not, the majority of individuals attempting to purchase a CMMS will have skipped three if not four of the following steps.  While I would be happy if this article were to save an organization time and money and help them successfully purchase a CMMS, that is not the real reason I’m writing it. Why, then?  It is because I have accumulated thousands of hours of frustration, watching many organizations that have wasted their time, energy and money, as well as mine, in the pursuit of a CMMS solution only to fall flat on their face. If only they knew that the pursuit was corrupt from its inception. I still work in this field; it’s a love and it’s a curse. So, I’m basically asking you to listen to a frustrated telemarketer, you might learn something.

My formula for success is as follows:

Lets start with the first step…

Xhaust: Xhaust? Yep, Xhaust. You may be wondering two things right now 1. Why I’m spelling exhaust incorrectly and  2. What in the world do I mean? Well, first of all the spelling is incorrect because if I want my article to make any sense I’m going to need to use the letter x over and over again so Xcuse me.

As for the second question: Xhaust is to eliminate all possibilities. Elimination is not easily accomplished especially in a world that loves options. But you must Xhaust the possibilities. To start the Xhaustion you must begin right where you’re at (assuming you’re at work). Look around. No doubt you already have a maintenance department. Ask yourself some questions:

  • What is your maintenance department doing now?
  • Are you meeting or exceeding downtime standards?
  • What process for handling work is in place?
  • What makes the process ineffective?
  • How much does it affect production, efficiency, and the ‘bottom line’?

Essentially you are asking yourself: Why do I need a CMMS? Sounds like a loaded question doesn’t it?

Think about it for a second.

Many large organizations today survive and are even successful without the aid of CMMS. Those who would argue against that point are CMMS users, sellers or developers. The facts remain: companies don’t necessarily need a CMMS in order to be successful. Some which have purchased a CMMS wish they had never even heard of the acronym. Do you know what you need?

Chances are, the answer is no. No offense, but this is the honest truth. How many of you even know, as a human, all the things you physically need to survive, much less the optimum standard of health? Yeah, I thought so. The same principal can be applied to business, only multiplied a million times over. In reality, the truth is you’ll never know. But you can get pretty stinking close. Just ask any Katrina survivor if they’ve come to realize what they need and what they can live without to survive. It’s a sad commentary on human life that it usually takes a disaster to remind us of what’s important. I’m not suggesting you create a disaster in your maintenance department to find out what you need. I’m trying to help you avoid that situation by this self-study, the first part of which will define your needs.

This study cannot be merely an Xhaustive stress-test though. It’s one thing to survive, it’s another to thrive. Determining optimum standards in this case is also somewhat of a guessing game. It should not be considered a science, there are just too many variables. That’s not to say it shouldn’t be attempted. Some additional questions that should be considered are:

  • Is your maintenance department growing?
  • What are the current bottlenecks of data transfer and work processes?
  • Is there data that you currently collect that could be leveraged?
  • What data should be collected that isn’t?

There are so many other things to consider that go beyond this poor telemarketer’s knowledge. All the preceeding statements are really oversimplifications. The Xhautive self-study recommended is far more detailed and difficult than described. However, you would be surprised how many organizations have put less effort in this phase of the project as I have in writing this article.

If at the end of this self-study you’ve determined that CMMS is not a need for your organization, stop reading right now. You heard me, stop.

If you get the urge to pursue a CMMS after you’ve realized you don’t need one, beat yourself in the head with your mouse until the urge goes away. And if your boss happens to see you, simply explain you’re restructuring your cognitive acquisition module to better enable the company to focus its assets on its vital business processes. Maybe he’ll buy it and not mistake you for the ‘crazed-lunatic-who-had-to-beat-his-CMMS-fantasies-out-of-his-head-with-a-mouse’ that you truly are. If the mouse thing sounds unappealing realize that if you didn’t stop yourself you’d end up doing it anyway. This is because too many times companies have daydreamed about CMMS, bought magazines, attended seminars, watched demos, hosted onsite visits, prepared and sent out RFPs, received quotes and then woke up and realized they were going to stick with what they had. You know why? Because they didn’t need CMMS. And so there they sit beating themselves in the head with a mouse wondering why on earth they wasted so much time. (That last part is actually false. Such people don’t realize what a drain they are on the company and don’t feel any regret. It’s usually people like me whose time they’ve wasted that do it. Still you must admit that it’s an amusing image.)

Xhausted yet? I am. But remember if this Xhasution is done correctly you’re way ahead of your competition and on your way to CMMS success.

Ben Keith is the pen name of an anonymous telemarketer who works for a CMMS/EAM company he prefers not to name. You can contact him here.

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