A new year means a new you: and new best practices for your maintenance management! CMMS software (Computerized Maintenance Management System) — also known as enterprise asset management (EAM) software and fixed asset management — is stepping confidently into the future. We asked experts in the field of asset maintenance and management what CMMS trends coming years.
- Fifty-three percent of facilities use CMMS to manage maintenance activities.
- The main barriers to CMMS software adoption are cost and technological resistance, and both are decreasing as time goes by.
- CMMS and EAM are giving way to a new form of asset management called APM.
- AI and the IoT are going to have a huge impact on how organizations manage their assets.
- To stay competitive, both CMMS vendors and organizations utilizing CMMS will have to be adaptive and innovative in coming years.
What Is CMMS?
We threw a lot of acronyms at you right off the bat, so let’s clear them up a bit first. CMMS, computerized maintenance management software, does what it sounds like — it manages your maintenance. This can include vehicle and fleet management, facilities management, plant management, property management and more. It offers users a range of features and functionalities that allow you to schedule preventive maintenance instead of repairs to keep your assets running as they should.
CMMS is an older term for the field of maintenance management; EAM and fixed asset management perform the same functions under different names and are the more modern iterations of the idea. CMMS is typically considered to be less comprehensive in its offerings and focuses almost solely on maintenance, whereas EAM software offers a wider range of asset management functions. We’ve written an article that breaks down the differences between EAM and CMMS if you want to go deeper.
The Future of CMMS
Now that you’ve had a basic rundown of CMMS, we can start the fun part. Where is the field of asset maintenance and management headed? We asked experts from some of the industry’s leading vendors for their CMMS predictions, and here is what they said:
From Emerging to Universal
As we become more technologically savvy as a society, every nook and cranny we occupy does the same. Maintenance management has come a long way from punch card schedules, and the importance of CMMS can’t be understated. What was once a luxury is now a necessity.
Debby Mininni, Business Relations Manager at CHAMPS software, says:
“CMMS solutions are definitely a best practice among world-class maintenance organizations. A CMMS contributes so greatly to the efficiency of work and the actual bottom line that it simply cannot be overlooked for nearly all maintenance intensive industries.”
If maintenance software is really a best practice, how come everyone and their mother doesn’t already have it? A PlantEngineering study in 2018 found that only 53 percent of facilities use CMMS to manage maintenance activities. A different study by UpKeep in 2019 saw an even lower adoption rate of 39 percent. So what’s stopping the other 47 percent? Daniel Golub, General Manager at Hippo CMMS, had this to say about the lag in adoption of maintenance technologies:
“Maintenance departments have been slower to adopt [asset management technology], and I think this is largely because maintenance is viewed as a cost center. Therefore, budgets were not made available to purchase software regardless of the return they promised. Moreover, traditional CMMS systems were much more expensive and cumbersome to use. So it was easy to reject.
“Today the market is much more competitive, so prices have gone down, support services [have] improved, and software functionality and user experience are always improving. With these improvements and the understanding [that predictive maintenance] reduces downtime, costly repairs and extends the life of assets, executives and managers are embracing CMMS as a business solution.”
So while maintenance software adoption rates are higher than ever, there are still barriers that prevent organizations — especially SMBs or companies that aren’t comfortable with the technological aspects of CMMS — from adopting these beneficial technologies. Steven Kyriakdis, Product and Support Manager at Maxpanda, shares his thoughts:
“Unfortunately technology resistance can be a hindrance for someone new to computer-aided methodologies. But more and more companies such as Maxpanda CMMS are aiming to overturn fears of long training sessions by providing a CMMS that a 9-year-old can use.”
This perceived complexity keeps many organizations away from purchasing a much-needed maintenance system because they’re worried it will be too difficult to learn. This fear isn’t always unfounded — in our 2018 survey, we found that of the buyers questioned, three percent were looking to downsize from a CMMS that was too cumbersome.
That three percent may not seem like much, but those unhappy users spread their dissatisfaction. Here’s a statistic to back it up: according to a Zendesk study, customers who had a bad experience are 50 percent more likely to share that experience with others on social media than those who had a good experience. Businesses unhappy with their current CMMS platforms tend to generate bad reputations for their vendors, as many businesses were not properly trained or were upsold a product they didn’t need. Buyers should beware these issues when choosing a CMMS, especially for the first time.
Rise of APM
Another acronym came up again and again from these experts who really know their stuff — APM, or asset performance management. If CMMS is the history of maintenance and EAM is the present, APM is the future. APM combines the maintenance scheduling of CMMS with the asset tracking and management of EAM, in addition to the interconnectivity of the internet to create a powerful, proactive solution. Jerry Browning, Senior Solution Consultant for IFS in North America, had this to say about the value of APM:
“Now that available data is being mined, many asset driven companies such as airlines are crunching it to use the Internet of Things (IoT) technology. EAM and then asset performance management (APM) applications are where the market is heading. CMMS is just a component of these software applications designed to maximize value delivered from productive assets.”
As Jerry says, the proliferation of data and the advancement of the tools we use to analyze it is catapulting CMMS into the more technological world of APM. APM allows users to track their assets’ performance in real time, monitoring for potential breakdowns and failures in order to stop them before they happen. This proactive approach to an already preventive technology will allow users to significantly decrease their losses due to unexpected asset failures.
Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence
Smart, connected devices are the future of our world in every industry. As such, the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI are hot topics in almost any industry, especially those that utilize machines. When our machines are smart, they can monitor themselves and send real-time data back to managers, preventing a wide range of unexpected failures. Jerry Browning shares his thoughts on AI and IoT:
“Companies are dramatically increasing the use of IoT, and using that data to support maintenance and asset management initiatives. From predictive maintenance to analytics for real-time asset management decisions, enterprise software will give plant and maintenance managers a more senior seat at the table by taking their function from a cost center to a profit center.”
The goal of increased IoT integration and autonomy is to collect better data as well as more of it. This gives users the power to make data-driven decisions aligned with long-term goals. IoT and AI will develop hand-in-hand as they both become more sophisticated and integrated into the fabric of our society.
Other Advances and Advice
The betterment of CMMS doesn’t stop with smart machines and AI. Companies that make CMMS and those that use it have to adapt as well in order to stay competitive in an ever-changing world. Debby Mininni has this advice for CMMS vendors:
“It will be important for CMMS companies to remain nimble and focused on innovation rather than copy-cat behavior. As maintenance management methods continue to grow and evolve, CMMS suppliers must bring fresh ideas to overcome new challenges.”
While innovation is key, it’s not always the most important element of a new software system to consider. Daniel Golub warns that a tried-and-true solution is often better than flashy new features:
“Technological change is constant and rapid. With so much change, a lot of new innovations will have a short lifespan and become obsolete quickly. For CMMS companies, it is important to have a long-term vision and have a roadmap that is sustainable into the future and also is compatible with other technologies. For consumers, it is important not to get dazzled by the latest innovation – early adopters often pay a high price and also find that something newer and better is around the corner. Most businesses that invest in CMMS don’t use all the features and functionality they purchased.”
The three percent of users in our study who were downsizing from CMMS platforms that were too extensive for their needs would likely agree with Daniel’s assessment. Each customer is unique, and finding a product that fits your organization’s specific needs is crucial to correctly choosing CMMS software. Steven Kyriakidis explains how companies can get a competitive edge over other CMMS providers by focusing on customers’ needs:
“There are two types of CMMS companies: A and B. A are the companies…that continue to add value to existing software on a continuous basis. One could say [these applications are] in fact built by our customers. Without their direct feedback and support, we would be [a] stagnant app like most B CMMS in the industry. The secret is to continue development because if one customer will use a new feature, so will 1000 more.”
Customer-centric business practices are on the rise in every industry, and CMMS is seeing the same trend. Happy customers come back, so it’s really a no-brainer for creators to cater to the needs of their client base as they develop new products for asset maintenance.
Our experts say that adaptation, flexibility and innovation are what will set CMMS companies apart in the future. Their predicted trajectory for CMMS technology reflects these values and a spirit of improvement and evolution. AI and the IoT will become present in everyday operations in a big way, making asset management easier and more efficient for users as APM comes into its own. Customer care is key, and customer choice is equally important when it comes to choosing how to improve CMMS products. The verdict is in, and the future is bright!
Contributing Thought Leaders
Jerry Browning is the Senior Solution Consultant for IFS in North America. He is a service management specialist and IFS’ main R&D resource for North America. He writes for a variety of maintenance and software publications. IFS offers robust EAM and ALM solutions for a range of business sizes and specialties.
Debby Mininni has spent her professional career focused on people. A people first perspective has helped her to focus on matching quality MRO software solutions with the right customer requirements. As CHAMPS Software’s Business Relationship Manager she is proud to have forged lasting relationships with customers, colleagues, and partners alike. She looks forward to exciting innovations in the CMMS/EAM marketplace and the new relationship opportunities they present.
Daniel Golub is the General Manager at Hippo CMMS, a Canadian-based software company that offers maintenance solutions to over 1,000 businesses in manufacturing, hospitality, municipalities, healthcare and more. Daniel has been with Hippo for more than seven years. He has an MBA in International Marketing and HR from National Cheng Kung University in Taiwan.
Steven Kyriakidis is the Product and Support Manager at Maxpanda CMMS. Maxpanda is an affordable web-based CMMS solution with flexible subscription pricing. Specially designed for non-profits and SMBs, Maxpanda lets you start small and grow big.