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CMMS / EAM Implementation: Success or Failure

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From Webster’s II Dictionary
Implement is to put into effect; carry out; to furnish with implements (implementation).

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Implementation is the realization of an application, or execution of a plan, idea, model, design, specification, standard, algorithm, or policy.

From the plant organizational standpoint
Implementation is defined as either a SUCCESS or a FAILURE.

Many companies have purchased a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) with the intent that the system will be the silver bullet that solves all the maintenance problems. There are literally hundreds of information management software bundles available today that can be classified as maintenance management suites. CMMS have become more sophisticated and much more capable over the last five years, yet many CMMS users feel that their systems have failed to deliver the desired results. Is this due to a preponderance of faulty software or some other, more fundamental flaw? Why aren’t these companies realizing the maintenance management improvements that they anticipated? What is causing CMMS software to fail to deliver the goods and can anything be done to alleviate the problems that seem to plague so many facility maintenance departments? This paper tells two stories; one of an implementation that failed and one that was a success.

Plant One

For the past seven years, John has been the maintenance manager at a manufacturing plant located in the northwestern portion of the United States. The plant has been in operation for over 20 years. A new plant manager has recently been assigned. His past experience has taught him that a CMMS / EAM system should provide him the data he and his managers require in the day to day operation of the plant.

The plant manager gathered his various managers and instructed them to select and implement a software system. The management team felt this was a great idea and set out to do as instructed: “select and implement.”

Each manager reviewed their respective schedules and determined that limited time would be available to select and implement a system. The maintenance and operations managers could find no time in their schedules, so each assigned a resource to help with the activities. The remaining managers agreed that these activities could best be accomplished by the IT manager and her staff.

The IT manager directed one of her staff members to search the internet for a software system that would do what they needed it to do – provide data to support day to day operations. Several systems were identified and submitted to the IT manager. This information was passed to the other managers and a decision was made on which to be purchased.

The system was purchased and implementation was scheduled to begin. The selection team determined that this implementation was beyond their capabilities and expertise and should be completed by the IT staff with vendor support. After all, it is software. The resources supplied by the maintenance and production managers had no input into this implementation decision.

The plant IT staff, with the help of vendor personnel, uploaded and configured the software on the site network, activated various modules, assigned users, and loaded sample data. The various managers were notified of the completed activities and assumed the software system was “implemented.”  Authorized users were directed to use the system in their daily work routines.

At the end of the second month after implementation, during a weekly managers meeting, data was required by the plant manager in order to support a business decision. Analysis of system data available indicated that the data now available was no more accurate or useful then before the software system was purchased and “implemented”. Further evaluation determined the following:

  • There was no clear understanding of what the system was to do for the organization
  • The capabilities and options available with the selected system was not fully understood
  • Cost was the determining factor for the selection
  • Various functions within the organization had limited or no input to the purchase and implementation
  • No user training was developed or conducted
  • ALL users had complete, unrestricted access to the data in the system which contributed to inaccurate, incomplete data.

Should we consider this implementation a SUCCESS or a FAILURE?

Plant Two

Jack has been the maintenance manager at a manufacturing plant located in the southeastern portion of the United States for the past five years. Henry has been the Operations manager at this plant for four years. The plant has been in operation more than 15 years. Past experience and discussions with other maintenance and operations managers has determined that a CMMS / EAM system should provide the data required in the day to day operation of the plant.

The plant manager gathered his various managers and a decision was made to select and implement a software package. With this guidance, the managers agreed to treat this as a project and use the same process (initiating, planning, executing, monitoring/controlling, and closeout.) The resources and effort required for this project would be made available. Jack and Henry agreed to share the responsibilities of leading the selection and implementation of a system. Each of them understood the importance of such an activity and the results it would have on the future of the plant.

Each function manager within the organization reviewed their respective schedules and set aside time to participate in the activities to select and implement the software system. The managers gathered their staff to identify what requirements the system must meet or exceed. The current way that each function within the organization conducted their daily routine was mapped out (the As-Is state processes). From these, what the daily routine would be in the future was developed (the Future state processes).

It was determined that, at a minimum, the package must contain these capabilities: web access for other plants within the corporation, asset identification and management, work order control, work planning, work scheduling, resource scheduling, preventive and predictive maintenance scheduling, MRO materials management, failure analysis and reporting, cost reporting, standard reporting capabilities and ad hoc reporting capabilities. Available system options should include bar-code reading and printing and RFID for assets and materials.

The IT manager directed her staff to search the internet to gather information and capabilities of the various software systems which met the identified minimum requirements. A listing was provided to the various managers for review and the development of a list of potential candidate systems. A Request for Proposal (RFP) was prepared and distributed to selected system providers/vendors. The RFP contained questions to be answered that would better clarify the capabilities and options of each system. Each provider/vendor provided a demonstration of their system to plant personnel using real plant data. From these demos and review of the RFP, a system which would best meet the needs of the plant was selected.

Once the software system was selected and purchased, an Implementation Team was created. The members of this team were selected from ALL functions of the plant (i.e., maintenance, operations, materials, finance, human resources, engineering, IT, etc.)  The purpose of this team was to ensure the system was implemented to meet the requirements of the various functions of the plant. Each team member worked with the system provider/vendor and the plant IT staff during the implementation to make certain the identified minimum system capabilities and options were implemented to meet the requirements of the organization as defined in the Future state processes. System Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) were developed to explain proper system use. User training was developed and training was conducted according to an approved training schedule. The SOPs were used as the basis for this training.

During the first few months of operation, the system was reviewed daily to ensure that data was being entered in the agreed upon manner, work order control was effective, work planning and scheduling was being accomplished and accurate, materials management was achievable, failure analysis data was available, and reporting capabilities were being used and are providing accurate data. Any noted deficiency was identified and, where needed, corrective action taken. Refresher training was conducted weekly. One-on-one training was conducted as needed. The purpose of such activities was to ensure system integrity and accuracy.

Soon after, during a weekly manager’s meeting, data was requested by the plant manager in support of asset and process upgrades requested by the maintenance and operations managers. These managers requested from other function managers support data including asset total maintenance costs (labor and materials), asset operational history, asset downtime analysis, asset/process Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Asset Utilization (AU), asset spare parts lead-time and availability, and asset work order history data. Additional data was available if required.

It was quickly apparent that data required to make sound business and engineering decisions was available from the CMMS/ EAM system. This discovery led to an evaluation of the process used to select and implement the software package. The following was identified:

  • Plant management was supportive of the activities necessary for the success of the package selection and implementation
  • Function managers took responsibility for the project’s success
  • Required resources were made available
  • Future state process were developed for activities performed by the various plant functions
  • Minimum system capabilities required to support the Future State processes were identified
  • System “nice to have” options were identified
  • A listing of system providers/vendors was created from which a “short list” was developed
  • A RFP was developed and sent to short list providers/vendors. This RFP listed the requirements, capabilities, and options to be met in order to be considered as a final candidate
  • Final system selection was made after consideration and evaluation of information provided and an on-site demonstration by various system providers/vendors. This decision was made by the selection team, not by one individual.
  • An Implementation Plan was developed to ensure the system was implemented as required to support the plant activities
  • ALL functions within the organization were involved in the system implementation
  • System operational testing was conducted at various stages of the implementation
  • System Standard Operating Procedures were developed
  • System training materials were developed and initial user training was conducted
  • System refresher training was conducted on a reoccurring basis
  • For the first several months after implementation, system evaluation was conducted on a daily basis
  • System deficiencies were identified and corrected as required

Should we consider this implementation a SUCCESS or a FAILURE?

How many of us can identify with Plant One? How many of us have knowingly placed ourselves in this position and supported activities such as this?  How many of us can identify with Plant Two? What can we learn from the outcomes of our actions?

The selection and implementation of a CMMS /EAM system should not be taken lightly by any organization. Project definition, planning, and research must be performed early in the process. Requirements and expectations must be created. Deliverables must be clearly defined. Required resources must be identified and made available. Training must be developed and provided. Managers need to continuously evaluate project activities. Most of all, management MUST provide the commitment, leadership, and guidance required to make this a successful project. The benefits to be realized from a successful implementation will greatly compensate for the resources, effort, and cost requirements.