CMMS Implementation: 5 Effective Steps to Make the Process A Success

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Investing in CMMS software is a long process. It’s not uncommon to dedicate months, or even years, to comparing vendors, pricing, features, and usability until a clear winner emerges. Once you’ve selected the right option, it can feel like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Time to sit back and watch the results roll in, right? Well, not exactly.

The fact is, an estimated 74% of all IT projects fail. That’s no small number! What’s more, there are many factors that can derail a successful CMMS implementation, whether it’s improper training, bad data being put into the system, misconfiguring the system, employees failing to take responsibility for the implementation process, or technicians refusing to adopt the new technology.

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Graphic from fiix software demonstrating the six elements of a successful CMMS implementation


So how do you make sure you fall within the 26% of organizations that launch new technology, like a CMMS, successfully? Or better yet, how do we collectively ensure the overall number of failed CMMS implementations decreases? Well, as the saying goes, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. It’s important to know the steps that go into a  CMMS implementation so you can be sure you’re planning and executing your rollout successfully.

You Can’t Define Success Without a Goal in Mind

Before we get into the steps that lead to success, let’s take a moment to define what “success” actually means in the context of a CMMS implementation. Jeff O’Brien, Fiix’s Senior Director of Client Services, recently explained, “The ultimate successful implementation is when the organization is maximizing the value of the new system.” So what does that mean?

Well, it means a lot of things. Firstly, it means that your CMMS has been configured properly for your particular use case. It also means that PMs are triggering when they’re supposed to (and are being triggered for the right assets), costs are rolling up to the correct assets, you have an accurate view into inventory levels, and everybody that should be using the CMMS is using it on a day-to-day basis.

Finally, one of the most important signs that you’ve set up your CMMS in a way that maximizes value is when real, accurate data can be pulled from the CMMS to form KPIs and reports. These can be used to identify trends and make business decisions like repair versus replace. Now that we know what it is you should be working towards, let’s get into planning mode.

Before Implementation: Set Up the Right Culture

To put it bluntly, without the right workplace culture, implementation will fail. As IndustryWeek explains, there are a number of guiding principles you need to put in place prior to implementation to make sure your organization can support it.

Make sure to enforce documentation of work requests, perform proper root cause analysis on failures, and identity and rank equipment by critality. These tasks executed on a consistent basis will create an accountability-focused precedent that’s essential when working with a CMMS.

Once these guiding principles have been established and are being followed, you’re ready to get started with the real work.

Step 1: Get Support From Management

With any organizational change, support needs to come from the top down. In order to fully integrate a CMMS into your organization, dedicated time and resources are required. It will be an uphill battle to get things running smoothly if management isn’t committed to providing or allowing these resources.

It’s important to manage expectations with management from the get-go. Implementing a CMMS is not an immediate cure-all. It’s a tool that will, with the right resources and inputs, lead to smarter, more efficient and less costly maintenance. Make sure your management team is aware that it can take some time to see these returns.

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Step 2: Know Your Key Stakeholders (and Give Them a Voice)

It’s important to remember that a CMMS isn’t a standalone solution. In order to get it to work in your organization, it needs to be integrated into the workflow of your existing structure. For this reason, it’s absolutely critical that you map out which teams and individuals will be working with, or affected by, a CMMS.

graphic from fiix software demonstrating the road to the right culture for CMMS success


Naturally, anyone who is creating or completing work orders will be in the system regularly. But who else will be affected? It’s a good idea to give CMMS access to machine operators, inventory managers, health and safety appointees, and reliability engineers. Each of these roles will be significantly impacted by the introduction of a CMMS, and each of them can use the outputs of a CMMS to do their job better. It’s a great idea to assemble a steering committee with one appointee from each of these groups so that they can ensure their team’s needs are being met throughout the implementation process.

Above all, it’s important to assign a CMMS champion. This is someone who will work very closely with your CMMS vendor to build a realistic implementation plan that takes your organization’s structure and goals into account. They’ll be the main liaison between your company and the CMMS vendor to make sure key milestones are being met and kinks are being ironed out when they appear.

Step 3: Develop a Detailed Project Plan

Now that management is on board and you’ve identified and consulted everyone who should be involved in your implementation, it’s time to build a project plan with the help of your CMMS vendor. This plan should be as detailed as possible and can span from six months to a year and beyond.

Your project plan should include key dates for hitting milestones, like identifying customization needs, data cleaning and data entry, completing user training, and performing CMMS audits. The more granular you’re able to get with this plan, the better. Having explicit, attainable goals to work towards will reduce ambiguity and increase accountability for everyone involved.

Step 4: Kick Off and Check in

Once you’ve laid out a sound project plan that both your organization and your CMMS vendor have vetted, it’s time to kick things off. This involves preparing your team for change, gathering and cleaning your data, configuring the system properly, training your end users, and finally, going live with the system.

During kickoff, it’s important to have a CMMS vendor you can check in with regularly, who can provide on-site training and technical support while you’re navigating a new system. Trying to go it alone can lead to bad data input, improper training, and processes that aren’t optimized as well as they could be. At the end of your implementation project plan, it’s important to check in with your CMMS vendor and discuss things like reporting, user adoption and anything else you’ve learned about during implementation.

Step 5: Evolve, Evolve, Evolve

In today’s technological landscape, nothing stays the same for long. With capabilities expanding all the time and tools evolving constantly, it’s important that your organization evolves, too. Once you’ve successfully implemented your CMMS, keep asking yourself what else you could be doing with it. Have you gathered enough data that you can start optimizing your PM strategy? Are there features you aren’t using that you could benefit from? Are there integrations with other business systems you could take advantage of?

Remember that a CMMS is a database of information about your assets. You can use that data to make better decisions at all levels of your organization and change the way you work, for the better.

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CMMS Success Is Well Within Your Reach

As you can see, CMMS implementation is a multi-step, ongoing process that works best when everyone involved is informed and engaged. If you take the proper steps to plan and set up your implementation correctly, work closely with your CMMS vendor and gather feedback at every stage of the process, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Photo of author, Sarah BellstedtThis blog post was written by Sarah Bellstedt, Content Marketing Specialist at Fiix Software. Fiix provides cloud-based, easy-to-use maintenance management software to customers who want to improve reliability and turn data into actionable insights. Learn more at

Sarah BellstedtCMMS Implementation: 5 Effective Steps to Make the Process A Success

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