How to prepare for implementation of a CMMS system?

26 January 2018

In order that implementation of a system for maintenance can be successful it’s necessary to work from the very beginning of this process. Proper preparation of a plant and awareness of changes improve the process and minimize a risk of failure. Thanks to good preparation it is possible to achieve much better results.

The article is the second part of our guide to implementation of a CMMS system:

In the first part of the guide to implementation of a CMMS system we have discussed its subsequent phases. In this part we will focus on the first one – preparation for implementation.

In the preparation phase a client – so persons responsible for the plant and the maintenance department – plays the main role. The duration of subsequent activities depends on preparing and providing particular information. The preparation phase is very important but it is often ignored. It consists of five key operations, during which information necessary for correct configuring and using the system are gathered. We present them below.


1. Defining the vision and clear goals of implementation of the system

The goals of implementation are a signpost indicating which activities in the whole cycle of improving the operation of the maintenance department are more important than others. Apart from showing a direction, they also become a reference point when difficulties arise. It’s important to remember that if we don’t define our expectations before the implementation, it will be difficult to achieve real improvement. Examples of goals include:

  • increasing availability of the machine park for production,
  • reducing failure frequency rates,
  • shortening the time spent on looking for parts in the warehouse,
  • reducing spare parts inventories,
  • gathering technical documentation in the electronic form in one place,
  • faster and more effective exchange of knowledge among employees (especially if a number of the staff are older and are approaching the retirement age or there is a relatively high turnover).

However, setting goals should be done in moderation. The “the more, the better” approach is not beneficial because it is impossible to realize all plans at the same time. Even if a company has a lot of problems, it is recommended to focus on the most important one, the solving of which will bring the greatest effects. Only later other problems should be addressed, according to the Pareto principle. The correct approach in such a situation is to prioritize individual assumptions.

Goal:  Defining goals of the implementation and setting a direction of development. Formulating the maintenance department’s short-term vision which answers the question: how maintenance should look like in one year, in three years?


2. Inventory of equipment that the maintenance department is responsible for

In modern maintenance management a great emphasis is placed on flow of information and up-to-date information. It happens that in company lists of machines and equipment there are old items, which a plant got rid of a long time ago. On the other hand, more recently purchased equipment is missing. The implementation of a CMMS system is an opportunity to order the information, which is necessary to use the new solution effectively.

Another activity preparing for the implementation of a system is to carry out accurate inventory of equipment. The acquired data will reflect the real condition of the plant. You can’t manage effectively if you don’t have the knowledge on what you manage.

Goal: ordering the knowledge on the scope of responsibility.


3. Analysis of machines’ criticality

The next step is analysing the machine park from the point of view of criticality of individual machines. It allows to choose suitable strategies in relation to individual pieces of equipment. It doesn’t make sense (and it is not possible because of limited resources) to apply the preventive approach to all machines because such management would be ineffective and economically unjustified. Therefore, it is necessary to analyse all pieces of equipment and categorize them to one of the following groups:

  • Machines of high criticality – Group A
  • Machines of medium criticality – Group B
  • Machines of low criticality – Group C

Prevention is carried out in relation to the most important elements of the production process, so machines assigned to Group A. The method of determining criticality is presented step by step in our Knowledge Base and the post Strategies of exploitation of machines.

Goal: selecting the most important machines to be subject to preventive maintenance, considering the whole plant.


4. Ordering spare part indexes

The next element of correct preparation for the implementation is the analysis of spare part indexes. In this area two kinds of disorder are possible, which hinder the effective implementation and using CMMS software:


  • Too general indexes – one index (for example, in the ERP system) identifies more spare parts; and
  • Doubled indexes – one spare part occurs on a listing (for example, in the ERP system) under different indexes.

In both cases it is impossible to manage effectively a spare parts warehouse; however, too general indexes are a more serious issue because the result is complete degradation of information on inventories. The greater is the scale of this problem, the more detailed analysis should be carried out. Because this process is time-consuming and requires a lot of attention, it is recommended to begin it as soon as possible, a long time before beginning the phase of actual implementation.

Goal: obtaining the real structure of spare parts and achieving the possibility of effective management of spare parts inventories.


5. Preparing the IT infrastructure for implementation of a CMMS system

The last activity preparing the plant for start-up of the system is analysing the infrastructure capabilities. Activities in this area are divided into two types: obligatory and optional.

As far as obligatory activities are concerned, a client should:

  • prepare a server,
  • provide an access to a database,
  • prepare PC computers with an access to the server (computer(s) localized in the workshop), and
  • provide the possibility of connecting remotely with the server by the supplier’s consultants.

In our implementation practice, we also recommend to carry out a few optional activities, which include, for example, preparing mobile devices (smartphones), ensuring a good quality WiFi signal on the shop floor or purchasing a thermal-transfer printer in the case of using the bar code module. All these activities are determined individually with a plant and depend on the specifics and scope of the implementation.

Goal: Carrying out technical and installation tasks quickly and efficiently. A well prepared infrastructure (especially in the area of communication) also helps to provide better support for users after the implementation.



The proper preparation of a plant guarantees smooth cooperation and speeds up activities carried out in the other phases of the implementation. The more accurate work is carried out at the beginning of the project, the faster can you see the first effects of using the software. Setting goals, the analysis of the current state and specific activities adjusting a plant to the requirements of modern maintenance management effectively reduce a risk of problems with implementation and increase the chance of fully using the potential of IT solutions.

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