Who Will Do Your Set-Up?

When preparing to set up your CMMS, you have to decide who will do the work. The worker(s) you assign should be familiar with both the CMMS software and your maintenance operations. Otherwise, you'll end up with a system that doesn't suit your needs.

Some companies turn the set-up job over to outsiders—the dealer who sold you the CMMS, or a third-party consultant. This can certainly help you avoid a lot of problems...but outsiders can't work in a vacuum. They need advice, they need answers to questions, and they need feedback at various points in the process.

You have to appoint liaison people to work with consultants, and you have to make sure your liaison personnel are allotted enough time to do the job properly. In particular, you must schedule time for your people to review the consultants' work. Some companies ask their workers to squeeze in the review process while fulfilling all their normal duties too...but this can lead to a superficial review that misses potential problems. As noted in our Buy-In discussion, everyone involved should be committed to the process. Commitment has to include allocating sufficient time to get something you're happy with.

Allocating time for personnel is even more important if you decide to do the set-up on your own. The people doing your set-up have to get used to the software, and have to experiment with different approaches to see which works best.

While your set-up team will do most of the work, you'll probably find that they need help from other workers. For example, suppose the set-up team is writing up what should be done during a preventive maintenance task. In many cases, the set-up people have to go to the workers who usually do the task to get information (how long the task usually takes, what materials are usually required, and so on). Your regular personnel have to take the time to sit down with the set-up team and spell out the details...and this time should be factored into your implementation plans.

Recognize that early ideas may have to be changed as you work with the CMMS package. For example, you may find that your initial scheme for assigning ID codes to items doesn't really suit your needs. This is the sort of thing you can only discover by using the software in practical tests, where you try to simulate how people will actually work with the CMMS on the job. If your initial set-up makes it hard for you to find certain types of information, there are usually ways to improve the situation...but it's best to make corrections early, before you've keyed in a lot of data that has to be changed afterward.

The people assigned to implementation have to keep their eyes open for possible problems. They have to be ready to change if their initial approach doesn't work. They have to be open to suggestions from co-workers.

Most importantly, the set-up team has to keep in mind the goals of everyone involved. What kind of information does management want? What kind of help will workers need? It's counterproductive to produce a set-up that works for management but not for the workers, or vice versa. Often, this means that your set-up team should have representatives from both management and workers. Otherwise, you may end up with an implementation that doesn't work as well as it ought.

Next: Making a plan