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03Jun

Spotlight on Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS): Part 3 of 3

Written by Hayley Hajic with consultation from Dawn Nall

In Brief

This blog post is the last part of our three part series on CMMS Software. This blog post describes how to set up a demo with CMMS questions and recommends questions to ask during the demo. It also discusses CMMS pricing and technical support.

Making contact with CMMS companies 

Once you have a short list of CMMS software companies, you’ll want to call them and set up a demo. During your initial phone call describe your system and what your software needs are. The companies can then tailor the demo to focus on the features your utility is interested in.  You should be aware of other available features for possible future use. 

During the demo, view each feature on your list, both essential and optional. Also think about functionality and ease of use throughout the demo; does the feature seem user friendly? As each feature is shown, be sure to ask any questions you may have. For example, if preventative maintenance is on your list, make sure the software supports preventative maintenance as your utility would use it. Does the software do calendar-based preventative maintenance or is it based on hours of run time or odometer readings or a combination? Can you create corrective maintenance work orders from failed inspections? The more prepared you come to a demo, the more you will get out of it and the easier it will be to pick the right CMMS software.  

API 

During the calls with the CMMS companies you will likely hear the acronym API. Application programming interfaces (APIs) extend the power of your CMMS and let it talk to other computers, applications, equipment etc. Many companies may not have a specific feature as part of their software initially but can use an API to integrate that feature if necessary. For example, some CMMS software does not integrate SCADA data. However, there are companies that have the capability to use an API to integrate SCADA data into their software. Be aware that the use of an API will likely be an additional cost. 

Price 

Each CMMS software will have a different pricing scheme. Pricing may be available on a company’s website, but more often you will have to request a price estimate. Do this early on so you know if the software is within your budget. To receive an accurate estimate, companies will request part or all of the following information: gallons per day, number of connections and/or number of users. They may ask for the total number of users or ask for the number of concurrent users. These can all effect the price of the software. The cost of the software is usually subscription or licensed based. If it is subscription based, some companies will allow you one month free out of the year if you pick an annual subscription rather than a monthly one. The subscription or license costs will not be the only fees you pay. The questions below can help you find out about any hidden costs.  

Potential questions to ask: 

  1. How much are onboarding and training fees? These usually depend on how large the setup is, number of days someone from the company has to be at the utility etc. 
  2. Does the license or subscription fee stay the same or increase every year? 
  3. Is there a cost to importing and integrating data into the system? 
  4. Is there an additional cost for technical support? 
  5. Is there an additional cost for upgrades? 
     

Request for Proposals 

As a water utility, you may be required to write a Request for Proposal (RFP) instead of having your team select a CMMS software. It is still important to follow the steps outlined in the CMMS part 1 and part 2 blog posts because they will help you gather all the information you need to write an RFP. A well written RFP will be specific and that will ensure that only companies with software that fulfills requirements on your essential features list will submit a proposal.  

Technical Support  

Another vital piece to CMMS selection is understanding the company’s technical support. All companies should provide some type of technical support, but the type may depend on whether your software is cloud-based or on-premise. If the software is cloud-based, most technical problems can be solved remotely. If the software is set-up on-premise then there is a higher likelihood someone would have to travel to you to fix issues. The questions below can help you gage the level of technical support you will receive.  

Potential questions to ask: 

  1. How does technical support work? Is there around the clock support?
  2. Do you provide instructional videos, in-software guides, live chat? 
  3. How are upgrades done?   

Once you have talked to the top companies on your list and seen their demos, compare them. You can also go online and look at software advice websites that you can use to read company reviews. Buying the right software for your utility can be an intimidating activity, but defining your goals and knowing the right questions to ask will make you well prepared to navigate the process.  

Links to Part 1 and Part 2

Part 1: http://southwestefc.unm.edu/computerized-maintenance-management-system-cmms-part-1-of-3/

Part 2: Coming Soon

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30May

Spotlight on Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS): Part 2 of 3

Written by Hayley Hajic with consultation from Dawn Nall

In Brief: This blog post is the second part of our three part series on CMMS Software. This post details how to research CMMS companies and who to involve in that process.

How to pick the right CMMS software (geared towards small water utilities) 

You’ve decided your utility needs CMMS software, but how do you go about picking the right one? The more you know about the needs of your utility, the better prepared you will be to pick the right fit. The first step is to define your goals and expectations for the software. Below are some questions to help you start thinking about what your system may need from CMMS software.  

  • Do you want to be able to track all your work orders? 
  • Are you looking to do preventative maintenance? 
  • Do you want to manage your parts inventory? 
  • Do you have SCADA or GIS data? 
  • Do you want to be able to access information in the field? 

Once you have defined your goals, create a list of features the CMMS needs to have to help you achieve these goals. Split the list into essential features versus optional features. As a small system, many CMMS software’s will do more than your utility needs and you don’t necessarily want something that comes packed with thousands of features. You can save money by knowing exactly what you want out of the software. It is also important to not exclusively focus on your current needs, you should also consider what your needs may be in 5 to 10 years. You do not want to outgrow your CMMS software. Below is an example of an essential features list and an optional features list created by a wastewater utility looking for CMMS software. 

Essential Software Capabilities  

  • Asset Management Tracking 
  • Asset Inventory 
  • Cost Data 
  • Maintenance Records 
  • Generates Work Orders  
  • Spare parts inventory tracking 
  • Part name, location, quantity available, reminder to reorder via email 
  • Communication with (future) SCADA systems  
  • Communicates with tablets or smart phones for in-field updating and accessing (mobile option) 

Optional Software Capabilities 

  • Clean user interface, easy to use 
  • Connects horizontal assets (GIS based inventory) and vertical assets  

You should also consider whether you want your CMMS software to be cloud-based or installed on-premise to a desktop computer. Companies will only offer one or the other and there are advantages and disadvantages to both. A cloud-based system requires fewer upfront costs because you do not have to purchase the hardware for the CMMS to run on and your IT department does not have to set up and manage the server. A cloud-based system can also quickly implement updates and issues with the software can be solved remotely. An on-premise solution has better security and if your utility has data or regulatory requirements that force the data to stay on site then it will be the best option for you. All CMMS websites should indicate whether the software is cloud-based or on-premise.  

The easiest question to answer in your CMMS software research is who to involve in the selection process. Everyone! The most important people to engage are those already familiar with maintenance operations and facility managers. However, there is a high likelihood your billing and IT staff will also end up using the software in some capacity and their input is also valuable. Include at least one person from each department that will be using the system to ensure that everyone’s needs will be met.  

Once you have your two lists, start researching CMMS companies online. You can start by finding out what software similar sized utilities are using or see if there are any CMMS companies in your state. As you are reading through the information on each company’s website, make sure they check off all the features on your essential features list. After you have thoroughly researched companies, create a short list of companies, three to four, that could be a fit and call them to set up a demo. Demos are a chance for you to actually see how the software will fit your needs. Usually before a demo the company will ask about your goals so they can better tailor the demo to your needs. It is important to be prepared when you are calling companies that offer CMMS software because they are trying to sell you a product. To get the most out of the phone call and subsequent demo you need to know what questions to ask and come with information about your utility. The next blog post walks you through what questions to ask CMMS software companies once you’ve made contact. 

Links to Part 1 and Part 3 of this series:

Part 1: http://southwestefc.unm.edu/computerized-maintenance-management-system-cmms-part-1-of-3/

Part 3: Coming soon

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