Implementation of every new tool in an enterprise should be properly planned and prepared. Especially in the area of IT solutions there are quite a lot of potential problems which may cause that undertaken activities will be unsuccessful. Such a situation may occur when implementing a CMMS system for maintenance. So how to correctly prepare for its implementation so that the implementation process run smoothly and bring quickly the expected effects? Read our tips.
The article is the first part of our guide to implementation of a CMMS system:
- Part 1: How to successfully implement a CMMS system in 4 steps to achieve expected benefits?
- Part 2: How to prepare for implementation of a CMMS system?
- Part 3: How to strengthen the effects of using a CMMS system? Levels of advancement
We know from our experience that implementation of industrial-grade IT systems is a big challenge for a lot of companies. This is an operation which on the one hand shouldn’t be too troublesome for regular processes taking place in an enterprise and on the other hand requires a lot of attention. Therefore, we have prepared a comprehensive, three-part guide, which describes the most important aspects of the start-up of a system for maintenance.
What to start from and what should you know?
First of all, you should consider a goal of the purchase and implementation of software for the maintenance department. It’s important to realise that implementation of such a program means not only the installation on a server and PC computers in a plant. From the technical point of view, they are simple operations and do not take much time. The change goes much deeper and involves mainly the organisational area, not the infrastructure. It is the reorganization of the department and the way of work that causes most difficulties, which is why these aspects should be given special attention.
Phases of implementation
In the practice which we have developed, due to a wide range of activities, each implementation of the system is divided into phases, in which both cooperating parties are involved – we as a supplier and a plant as a customer. Only partner cooperation and carrying out specific activities bring real results. The implementation of a CMMS system consists of four phases.
- Phase 1 – Preparation for implementation
- Phase 2 – Pre-implementation phase
- Phase 3 – Implementation phase
- Phase 4 – Independent development and achieving subsequent levels of advancement
All the phases include activities which reduce a risk of failure, streamline the implementation, and in a result bring the desired effects. Let’s look at every of them.
Phase 1 – Preparation for implementation
The activities related to preparation must be carried out inside the plant. Of course, a vendor should provide support but in fact managers of the department are responsible for defining purposes of the implementation or specifying criticality of individual machines.
In the implementation plan that we have developed we have defined five important aspects which a customer should consider when preparing for the start-up and using a CMMS solution. They are described in detail in the second part of our guide: How to prepare for implementation of a CMMS system?
Phase 2 – Pre-implementation phase
It may seem that it is practically the same as preparing the plant for the implementation but there are significant differences which cause that these two phases are separate.
The pre-implementation phase is executed in close cooperation with the vendor, who should assume the role of a consultant. Its (our) task is to present in detail the capabilities of the system in relation to the particular plant and specifics of the customer. During a visit a consultant should also discuss in detail processes and the structure of data that will be used in the system. During this phase it is specified what data and how should be prepared in order to begin work with the system and achieve the goals set.
The pre-implementation phase usually lasts from 4 to 6 weeks but due to specifics of a particular company this period may change.
Phase 3 – Implementation phase
During this phase the vendor, who becomes an integrator of the solution, plays the main role. However, it doesn’t mean that the customer is completely passive. Despite appearances, the implementation of a CMMS system does not consist in complicated installation of software and configuring settings. These activities are carried out very quickly and a big part of them is carried out remotely.
The key part of the implementation begins with two training sessions, during which users learn how to operate and use the system. At the same time the application is being prepared for use.
After the training, the system is started up and put into everyday use. During the first two weeks we recommend to work on the test version of software, which allows to quickly identify errors and make corrections, if necessary. It’s the time for practising new ways of communication with the production department and getting used to new conditions of the operation of the department.
At the end of the implementation phase, so after about two weeks, the system is switched to the stable release. Then, the plant begins to work with the fully configured system, fed with imported, real data.
Phase 4 – Independent development and achieving subsequent levels of advancement
After the installation and training sessions the real work with the system and the last, the longest phase of the implementation begin. Unfortunately, it is ignored by a lot of manufacturing plants or even vendors, or it’s not planned at all. However, it is the independent development in using software and work organization that has the greatest impact on the final success or failure.
The greatest challenge for manufacturing companies is not the preparation of data or installation of the application, but the change of work organization. It is associated with a change in the perception of the whole department and the processes being executed. The lack of support in this phase will cause a lot of difficulties, and often also frustration because of the lack of visible effects of the implementation. In such a situation the system becomes only an unnecessary technological gadget, which only burdens employees with the tasks related to its operation. It’s not how work with a CMMS system should look like.
Due to high complexity of the implementation process, a large number of people involved or the necessary reorganization of the department we always recommend proper preparation for the implementation (two first phases) and after beginning to work with the system development in operating so called paths, which are:
- reactive path,
- warehouse management path,
- analytical path,
- preventive path.
Following these paths (subsequently or at the same time) guarantees higher efficiency and faster adaptation to new conditions. Eventually, it reduces the risk of failure of the implementation and increases work efficiency. All paths and their levels or advancement are described in the third part of the guide: How to strengthen the effects of using a CMMS system? Levels of advancement.
The implementation and start-up of a system for maintenance is not an easy operation but its proper planning and organizing can significantly streamline this process. It is necessary to bear in mind that the goal of going through all the implementation phases is not only the quick and efficient start-up of the system. The ultimate goal is to achieve organizational and financial benefits. The system is only a tool which does not bring effects just because it is. Only its proper using (after correct implementation) results in the expected results.