When an organization purchases CMMS software (maintenance management software) besides the usual features comparison, ease of use and other criteria there are a few technical items that one needs to be aware of. These items if ignored during the software selection and evaluation process can result in much grief at a later date. These items are really not specific to CMMS software but can also trip up other types of software deployments.
- Maintenance database: Different CMMS software products use different database systems to store the maintenance data. Ideally you want the type of database to be a well known and well supported platform e.g. Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, IBM DB2, MySQL, SQLite, PostgreSQL and so on. This will become very crucial in case you have database problems or need to integrate other applications with the database. A popular and well supported database system will have a wealth of third-party consultants who can help you with troubleshooting, optimization, setup and integration. You will also have a variety of third party tools that can be used to extract information, create custom reports and so on. Make sure to have some process in place for regular database backups. Databases are not invulnerable and can sometimes get damaged or corrupt.
- Software as a service (SaaS)/ Cloud based CMMS: If you are looking at SaaS applications (e.g. CMMS software hosted on a vendors website) remember that your data will be on their servers. You should take periodic backups of this data and download the files. This will provide you some level of protection in case the SaaS vendor runs into problems and goes out of business. If one of the reasons you chose a SaaS application is to allow remote access or multi-device support, check performance with a lower bandwidth network subject to connection drops (e.g. a cell phone network) as well as the devices you plan to use. See if the support and help pages are usable on smart phones if you plan to use them.
- Upgrade path: Frequently you may start with a more limited edition of the CMMS software. However, as you use it you may need to upgrade to an edition with more capabilities. Ensure that the vendor has a good upgrade path. You do not want to lose your existing data if you have to upgrade to a different software edition.
- Transferring data: When purchasing a CMMS software package you should also consider how easy it will be to bring in any existing data you may have. Most CMMS packages will allow you to import much data in comma delimited formats. You also want to consider how data can be exported from the system. This will be useful if you need this data in a separate system (e.g. purchasing, costing, etc.) or in the worst case you decide to move to a new maintenance software package at a future date!
- Adding more users: How easy is it to add more users? Some packages may require you to move to a completely different product if you want to upgrade from one user to multiple users. You should check and see if the pricing and ease of adding users makes sense if you plan to do this soon.
- Hardware & software required: Make sure you have the technical skills available to manage any special hardware or software that may be required. Keep track of installation disks, software downloads and passwords. We frequently have found that administrator passwords are lost and no one in the organization knows them! Losing downloads and installation disks is less of a problem since most software vendors will be able to provide you software download links for even old versions if you have proof of purchase.
CMMS Software Guide:
You may find the free maintenance software selection guide below very useful in your CMMS software selection process. It has a set of questions and checklists that you can use to identify the right products for your needs. With hundreds of products available it can be very hard to find the right one for your organization. This guide will make it a lot easier!Download CMMS Software Selection Guide