• Jamie Leeper

Selecting a CMMS for your needs

Updated: Mar 25, 2019


Facility Maintenance Services - CMMS Selection

Facility maintenance professionals are always looking for ways to streamline workflow, maximize effective practices, minimize expenses, and find new methods to improve their team’s performance, enhancing their company's portfolio in the process. Fortunately, there are numerous tools and systems designed to do just that. Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are available to assist maintenance and construction teams and can be configured and customized to meet the needs of any sized organization. Before making the large capital investment in a CMMS platform, there are several things to ask yourself.


The toughest question is, how do you decide on what system, features, procedures and support will be the most effective for your company? Are you just looking for a place to house your data? Are you looking for help with sourcing and paying vendors? Or are you looking for a complete management company where you will essentially create an extension of your maintenance office? Here are some key factors that need to be considered as you make this decision.

Know The Vendor

Of all the advice one could receive when thinking about CMMS platforms, knowing and trusting your system vendor may be the most important. Ideally, you and the vendor will collaborate to determine your specific needs for a system. As the systems and reporting capabilities are somewhat a la carte, it is important to discuss the requirements of the FM team and what components will best meet those needs.


Perform thorough research on each vendor you are considering, and be sure to review case studies and ask for references when available. One of the most frequent complaints we hear about some of our competitors is that a one size fits all approach is taken, and there is no human interaction in the process. This is frequently a very expensive situation to get out of, so be sure to do your homework on the front end.

An SaaS (Software as a Service) portal is exactly that, a portal, where all of your information is stored. You are still responsible for sourcing and vetting vendors, tracking down payments, pursuing warranties for poor workmanship and failed systems. Does this sound familiar to you? As you search for a solution, understand how your vendor will be a continued partner in your delivery of workplace services.


What is their relationship like with their other customers? Do they have other partners in a similar industry to yours who you could connect with? Are they innovative? How has their system changed over time? What is the cost associated with the CMMS and what comes with it? Most of the time you are looking at a significant upfront fee, normally 5 figures, accompanied by a monthly subscription fee for every location in your portfolio. This is a fixed cost that you are going to be on the hook for each month, even if the service isn't used.

Integrating With Existing Systems

One of the first questions you would want to ask is how the new system integrates with your existing system, and how much of your past data can be transferred over. Ideally, it should be a fairly simple process, but there is the possibility that additional software and hardware will need to be purchased. This would be particularly important for cost analysis, especially with your friends in the C-suite and the bottom line in mind. Make sure there aren’t any hidden or surprise fees associated with this integration process, to ensure the total expenditures are consistent with the initial estimates provided to you. Collaborate with your IT department to ensure you are asking the right questions of the vendor during the consideration stage.

Metrics Management

There is a constant stream of numerical data pertaining to the jobs and work being performed daily and these numbers become the basis for decision-making processes. They are predictors of future growth and indicators for current trends. If you cannot tap into the data as a resource, you are missing out on being able to develop educated managerial decisions. By tracking workplace metrics with a CMMS, these numbers can be compiled, charted or graphed, and cross-analyzed, with any number of parameters in place, so you will be able to develop a clear picture of how space, resources, and people are being utilized daily, monthly, and yearly.


Support

What support is going to be available to you when you run into problems? How many years of data can be stored in the CMMS? Who will have access to it? Will you be able to customize the system to better fit your business, or will you have to make do with a predetermined template that was designed for a different business?

Are you even looking for a live human that is available 24/7/365, or are you okay with figuring things out by yourself as your retail products are destroyed by a snow storm in your Boston, MA, location? What about after hours and emergency calls, any benefits in this direction, or are you on an island? When you are sitting down for breakfast with the family on Thanksgiving, are you going to be happy with having to source a vendor for your NYC store where the furnace just decided to stop working? As a family man with a wife and three young boys, I personally want peace of mind knowing that the job is going to be taken care of and I can spend those precious moments with my sons, as I will never get that time back. Each person is different, and you need to consider all of these aspects before you make a decision that comes back to haunt you.


Contract and terms of agreement

Is the CMMS company forcing you to sign a long term agreement, after having just hit you up for $50,000 to get the system up and running in the first place? If this is the case you want to make sure that you also look into facility maintenance companies, which essentially act as an extension of your facilities department. More of a partnership is present, and you will be working alongside someone else with skin in the game. Is the company prepared to offer you a pilot program to test the system out, or are they wanting you to sign immediately? Managing multiple facilities is a very difficult task and you need to be sure to look at all aspects before signing your life, time and budget away.


What service do you receive?

Is asset tracking associated with the system? Are you able to track network-wide spending habits that can be analyzed and evaluated for future budgets? Who will have access to the system? Is it possible to share certain reports with certain people, or is it a complete program which cannot be segmented? It's great having all of this data available but will the CMMS company be able to help you with budgeting, capital expenditure, design, and problem solving issues that arise? Are you truly going to be working with someone that has your best interests at heart, or someone that wants to get your company on it's books and start bleeding you dry through the monthly recurring payments with which you are being hit?

Some portals charge a fee per service call. Where is their incentive to help you here? They make their money from each call out, and are motivated by a higher volume of dispatched calls. If the first vendor doesn't work out, they will immediately send someone else as they have no skin in the game and are solely interested in the revenue generated every time a technician is sent to one of your retail stores. Where's the partnership here? Surely you want to work alongside someone with a similar philosophy and common goals, where both businesses can support each other's growth.


Too many companies these days take a slash and burn approach, and are just after a quick financial fix. Search for integrated facility maintenance companies that have a track record of delivering the highest quality of service, that have been with their partners for multiple years, and that have references that are happy to share their experiences with you. Also, don't just contact the references that the company provides to you. Find out some other companies that they work with and check in with them to see how things are going. The story might not be as rosy with some clients as it is for others.

Just last week I made a couple of site visits to nearby stores to to check in on how the service they are receiving from us has been. While in a retail rich environment I decided to drop in to a couple of other stores in an attempt to uncover further opportunities. I met with two companies, both of which were using the same facilities management company. One of them loved the service, was extremely happy with the timeliness of responses, and communication, and had a generally good feel for them.


However, the story was not the same at the next store. Their experience had been completely different. It had taken 8 weeks to get a replacement light bulb, and as it was a jewelry store, this caused quite a lot of frustration for the store managers and staff. Technicians turned up late, unprepared, lacking the trade skills needed to complete the scope of work, and one even got up on a ladder to service a unit, and turned to the store manager to ask him if he knew what to do! As you can imagine, this salesman politely asked the "technician" to leave his store, and unfortunately that same problem is yet to be resolved.

How can this experience be so different you ask? My thought is due to size and revenue. The first store has over 4000 locations nationwide, whereas the second company has just 234, a whopping 5.85% of the size of their larger friend. It's sad but it appears as though there is no equality in service provision, and the smaller retailer is left to struggle, with store managers having to problem-solve due to inept technicians. Instead of working with clients and increasing jewelry sales, they are forced to spend their time trying to resolve these problems by themselves. You also need to consider the poor image of the store, which is likely to reduce the chance of a customer making a purchase. Royal Services has the experience as one of the leading national facility maintenance companies to help support your company in this direction.

Training and Support

Once the system is in place and online, the duties of the vendor are not over. Your team will need training, both during implementation and after, as well as ongoing technical support. Have detailed conversations to discuss what kind of training the vendor can offer (and any costs associated) and make sure they will facilitate all system updates, as needed. Remember, the vendor should serve as an extension of your team, with their own set of FM skills, being put to use for your benefit.


Look for more than just a computer-based program to help with your facilities management. Instead, look for facilities maintenance teams, which are multi-faceted and just as dynamic as your own FM team. Partner with a facility management company that will push your abilities to the next level, while significantly increasing the efficiency of your stores.

Are you going to manage it, or is someone else?

When it comes to the management of your stores, you essentially have three options:

1. Manage everything internally - have your own CMMS platform, and a full FMS staff 2. Purchase a CMMS subscription - you will have a databse of vendors at your fingertips, but you will still need an FMS team to manage the vendors. 3. Completely outsource your FMS needs and partner with a facility management company. You immediately add trade expertise and availability to your department, overhead remains low and manageable, and you have someone who will remove the burden from your shoulders.


If you are at a junction and are unsure of what to do, please reach out and we will be more than happy to objectively analyze the options that you are mulling over. Not every business is a good fit for how we operate, but we will point you in the best direction to receive the services your stores need.

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