I need to buy a Computer Maintenance Management System but I do not know jack about choosing one.

How do I choose the one best suited to my needs OR is your question how to avoid paying huge sums of money only to find out you chose the wrong solution? There are some tested ways to avoid pitfalls when choosing a CMMS solution and the trick is to use your buying power as a customer.

It seems safer just going with what company A and X bought. My question is, in a situation where Company A and X made a bad decision and are still paying for it, do you buy into their mistake or learn from it? Why do you need to use exactly what Company A and X are using? Are their operational challenges the same as yours or are your resources similar? Do you have the same financial strength they have to make the kind of expensive mistakes they can afford to make?

There are easy steps you can follow that can inform your decision in buying the CMMS solution of your choice. It is efficient enough to prevent you from making “expensive mistakes.”Here are easy steps to follow to get the best value for your “gold coins.”

                                    7 STEPS TO ASSIST YOU IN BUYING A NEW CMMS SOFTWARE.

  • Ask the Right Questions: To do this, you need to first have a perfect understanding of what you need the software to achieve. What are the main pain areas you want to address? Research on systems that have achieved success delivering solutions in these specific areas. Understand the difference between an Enterprise Resource Planning solution that claims to deliver all solutions in one package and Software solutions which are built for specific functions. For example, an ERP solution that is built for Invoicing, Accounts, HR, and Procurement may not be suitable for Maintenance Management, Fleet Management, Asset & Inventory Management. Find solutions that are built exactly for what you need and research on their success, price and support culture. You also need to consider if buying foreign software is the best at the moment for your business or if there are local alternatives that are tested and trusted.
  • Choose a System that is off the shelf but Customizable: Most stakeholders assume that building a system from scratch is usually better. This is often a wrong assumption. Building from scratch comes with an associated risk of being too expensive, time-consuming and has a high rate of failure. It is safer to get an off-the-shelf system that can be customized to fit your workflow as well as improve on it. Then please be sure to ask specifically what the added cost of customization will be to you. To test if the system can deliver on these three, request for a demonstration or trial.
  • Request for a free trial: You have the right to ask a vendor to allow you use the software for a period of time for free, typically between one week to eight weeks. During the trial, ensure that the stakeholders are available to use the Software and get comfortable with it. A good software should be pretty intuitive and easy to use. Let them do their jobs using the software to ensure comfort and do not be surprised when the smart ones come up with new levels of customization that you might have omitted before.
  • Let the Vendor Bear the Maximum Risks: Here is the juicy part, choose a monthly plan. This might be a little bit more expensive in the long run but it is the safest payment structure for you. It means instead of paying huge amounts of money upfront, you pay as you go. The Software company will be like an outsourced staff on your monthly payroll. This is why it is called, “software as a service.” The monthly plan is safer as you can disengage at anytime if the vendor/application doesn’t deliver on the initial agreements you had.
  • Get Referrals: This seems corny but it is time proven. Ask the vendor for the past clients he has worked with. The trick to this is to ask for clients who have been using the application for longer than 2 years. This gives you a hint to the quality of the application and the support services. Next, you call officers in the company he has referred (better to call those who work directly on the System) Ask around the companies, you should find someone sincere enough to give you a hint of the quality of service.
  • Get a Maximum Support Clause tied to the Contract: Prepare and execute service level agreement that includes, support response time in hours, days or weeks. This should be like a service level agreement between you and be sure to include penalties for non-compliance.
  • Use your Internal Control: Your IT staff or your Internal Control team should be heavily involved in this project from inception. For maximum success, involve the operation, maintenance, procurement, and account department in the initial evaluation and selection process. Most importantly, return on investment cannot be obtained if the system is not put into optimal use, therefore you need to create the right policies and an enabling environment for your staff to be comfortable using the system. As with all cases with human involvement, we cannot rule out a few stakeholders who would prefer to boycott the System and keep the manual process in place, get your internal control or enforce compliance by insisting that all processes should come via the System. This usually gets everybody on board in no time, and as well helps you to better understand the system and enjoy it.

These basic steps should put you on the way to getting a CMMS solution suited exactly to your needs. Please be reminded that “Big” is not necessarily “Better”, and “Popular” does not mean it can be tailored to your core needs. Be smart, a CMMS solution should enable and not handicap your maintenance operation.

You can get more information at www.sysservesolutions.com

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