CMMS Software Integration: Challenges, Mistakes, and Best Practices
Implementing a CMMS is a transformative step in optimizing maintenance operations. The notable benefits of using CMMS include:
– Effortless asset management that improves asset performance
– Clear visibility into maintenance processes
– Improvement in technician productivity
– Downtime reduction
– centralize your maintenance processes
– Reduced maintenance costs
– Eliminate manual data entry
– Automated alerts
– Better and improved asset tracking
A CMMS provides all these specific benefits because it helps you centralize your maintenance processes, meticulously assign maintenance work to teams, and overall simplify the maintenance.
A lucrative prospect, integrating CMMS can fuel the efficiency of a maintenance department. But with the formidable challenges standing your way, this process can turn out to be a tough row to hoe.
When you are aware of possible challenges, you can take steps to avoid them, but being not aware of how to initiate those steps will lead to mistakes.
What if we guide you to deal with challenges and help prevent mistakes? This is what best practices can help you achieve.
So, we set the agenda for this discussion, guiding you in the sequence:
– What are the challenges that you can expect to encounter in CMMS integration?
– What are the mistakes you can commit in light of ignorance during the integration process?
– What are the best practices to integrate a CMMS into your existing system so that the challenges are eliminated and mistakes are also dodged?
What are the challenges in CMMS implementation?
Implementing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) can introduce a range of complexities. However, the issues will vary from industry to industry, as each industry has different technical and business workflows. Below, we look at some challenges that are typically encountered when integrating CMMS software into an existing business system.
Migrating Data while Sticking to Accuracy
Transferring data to ensure accurate record-keeping and scheduling can be a complex process, as it involves migrating a wide array of information, including asset details, maintenance history, and work order schedules. For instance, in the manufacturing industry, transitioning from manual record-keeping or older maintenance systems to a CMMS linked with an ERP system demands meticulous data migration.
Ensuring System Compatibility at each stage
Stakeholders have to achieve compatibility between CMMS software and other business systems or IoT devices otherwise CMMS won’t capture data from processes. The issue can cause repercussions, especially in industries like property management, where CMMS integration with Building Management Systems (BMS) or IoT components is essential for maintaining a smart, interconnected building. Even if a single sensor or controller malfunctions, then CMMS won’t be able to integrate fully into the existing process.
Identifying all training needs before integrating
Before you mull the integration of CMMS with your existing business systems, you need to lay out a training plan otherwise your integration project can suffer. For instance, in the utilities and energy sectors, where SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) systems play a pivotal role in operations, training operators on how to effectively use both the CMMS and SCADA will be the first step before integration.
In a business with many processes, CMMS has to assimilate with the existing workflow. Even if it doesn’t link with a single process, it may lead to incomplete capture of maintenance data. This can be evident in industries like healthcare, where CMMS integration with clinical engineering and inventory management Systems is imperative. The maintenance schedules must align with procurement processes, and the inventory system must accurately reflect the equipment availability.
Adapting existing workflows to incorporate the CMMS may require reevaluating and potentially redesigning how maintenance activities are planned, scheduled, and executed. The ongoing operations must not be affected and it should go hand-in-hand with testing and implementation of CMMS. For instance, in the manufacturing industry, integrating CMMS with an existing production line will necessitate accommodating maintenance tasks without disrupting production schedules.
Adjusting your Legacy System
In industries with a long operation history, older systems may have outdated technology or lack the necessary APIs for integration. In such cases, implementers will have to apply additional effort to bridge the gap between the legacy systems and the modern CMMS, only when they are able to integrate CMMS correctly into their setup.
Developing Change Readiness
Overcoming resistance to change among maintenance team members may bring issues when they are accustomed to established workflows and may be hesitant to adopt new technologies. Introducing a new CMMS alongside existing systems requires effective change management strategies, including clear communication, training programs, and providing incentives for adoption.
What are the Possible Mistakes in CMMS software integration?
CMMS integration is susceptible to various mistakes that maintenance teams can commit. These can turn into operational hardships and long-term issues. As a result, for successful CMMS integration, steer clear of the mistakes discussed below:
Insufficient Planning and Preparation
When you do not dedicate enough time and resources to the planning phase, it leads to a lack of clarity regarding goals, processes, and the necessary resources. For instance, in the healthcare industry, a hospital integrating a CMMS without a detailed plan might overlook critical factors like equipment criticality, regulatory compliance, and staff training. As the plan is bereft of these essential details, the CMMS integration will stall abruptly.
Inadequate Data Migration and Validation
Ignoring the accuracy and completeness of data migration can lead to issues with asset records, maintenance history, and work order schedules. Let’s take a case of manufacturing. Lack of focus on data accuracy during the migration of historical maintenance data leads to incorrect scheduling of critical maintenance tasks, which increases the possibility of equipment failure and downtime. So what you are trying to improve, you end up worsening it.
Ignoring System Compatibility
Yes, the planned CMMS must be compatible with your existing business system. Ascertaining it is a challenge, as we saw, and overlooking it makes it a mistake. The result is communication breakdowns and data discrepancies.
Sidelining Regulatory Compliance
Failing to ensure that the integrated CMMS complies with industry-specific regulations can have severe consequences. For instance, in the utilities and energy sector, if a CMMS implementation does not adhere to NERC standards for electric utilities, it could result in regulatory penalties and compromised grid reliability.
Overlooking Asset Prioritization
You must properly prioritize assets within the CMMS otherwise it can lead to inefficient resource allocation. In the utilities and energy sector, when you do not categorize assets based on criticality, it results in inadequate maintenance planning for essential infrastructure, potentially leading to costly breakdowns.
Not Conducting a Pilot Phase
Integration of CMMS is an irreversible process, and skipping a pilot phase to test the CMMS in a controlled environment can lead to unforeseen issues when deployed at scale. So, if you are not conducting a pilot run in the building before implementing the CMMS across an entire portfolio, it can lead to widespread inefficiencies in maintenance operations.
Overcomplicating the System
Trying to incorporate overly complex features or functionalities that may not be needed will lead to unnecessary complexity, creating new problems. It will cause confusion for users and potentially result in underutilization of the CMMS, undermining the core idea for its integration into the existing process.
What are the best practices for the integration of Computer Maintenance Management Software?
The following best practices would prove highly advantageous to most optimally integrate CMMS software and bring the best out of it.
Analyze your existing systems
Analysis of the existing system is important for two reasons. Firstly, you get an understanding of what are the capabilities and limitations of your system. Secondly, it gives an idea of your architecture against the existing system and helps you identify the integration points. So, effectively you will conduct a gap analysis that will reveal areas that require improvements to adjust to integration.
Build a coherent CMMS integration plan
A well-defined integration plan outlines the goals, timelines, resources, and responsibilities associated with implementing the CMMS. It provides a roadmap for a successful integration process. Each phase would have specific objectives and milestones. Build a plan that helps recognize potential risks early. With well-defined roles, everyone understands their responsibilities and aligns with the plan.
Involve every stakeholder
Take all relevant parties, from project sponsors and managers to external partners in the loop, and let them have their say in the planning and execution. By considering their needs and concerns, the integration can address the impact on various departments and teams effectively. So, if we are talking about manufacturing, production managers, maintenance technicians, and quality control personnel must provide input to ensure the system accommodates their specific needs. The production team may need real-time equipment status updates, while maintenance may desire automation of work order management.
Adopt a phased approach to integration
Never plan for a direct integration, which means you incorporate all features at a time. Instead, always break the integration process into stages, which will streamline the process while reducing the risk of failure. Coupled with proof of concepts, prototypes, and beta releases, phased adoption expedites functionality delivery to end users. As the integration process becomes smoother, it maximizes the potential of critical business systems and enhances overall project success.
Give thought to scalability and growth
Analyze how the integrated CMMS system can evolve to meet changing and long-term business needs. It must scale while exhibiting flexibility to accommodate future needs. Additionally, anticipating how the system will interact with emerging technologies and processes is essential, necessitating a well-defined plan for adaptation. Work with a forward-thinking approach that involves key stakeholders and solicits their opinions as to how the system can evolve.
Go for workflow-level and not database-level integration
Integrating at the database level may bypass crucial business logic and data validation, potentially causing system disruptions. It can lead to complications during data updates, affecting applications linked to the database. Additionally, the maintenance of mapping information becomes more complex. So, carry out integration at the workflow level to ensure a stable and supported interface.
Have a process to prevent data duplication
Establishing data management protocols is essential to avoid duplication or conflicting information within the CMMS. By following this approach, you will make sure that accurate and up-to-date information is always available. When multiple systems are tasked with managing the same data entity, it can lead to race conditions and auditing complications. Keeping data management separate ensures simplicity and enhances the overall effectiveness of the CMMS integration process.
Before venturing into making a CMMS a part of your operational system, first answer these important questions:
– Have you communicated CMMS implementation plans to executive leadership or the board?
– What percentage of maintenance processes will be mobile-accessible in your CMMS?
– Will you create a dedicated team or use the existing IT structure for CMMS integration?
– Are customer-facing CMMS modules web-enabled?
– Are vendor partners actively involved in CMMS integration?
– Have you assessed the timeline for CMMS integration?
– Have competitors integrated CMMS?
If you start with answers to these questions and follow the best practices we discussed, keeping in mind the possible challenges and mistakes, be assured your CMMS integration project will be a success.
To fit a CMMS into your business processes and align with your niche operational needs, seek consultation from our experts. As a CMMS provider, we will steadfastly assist you along the integration journey, and guide your maintenance team till it develops expertise in the CMMS’s use.
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