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Buyer Interviews: The State of the CMMS Software Market

Everyone involved in the manufacturing and industrial industries love their CMMS.  At least, they do if they have the right one.  Unfortunately this is rarely the case, so we set out to find what makes a CMMS that today’s buyers actually want.

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Over the last 18 months, we surveyed CMMS buyers of all industries and company sizes to determine what their most important requirements are.  Similarly to our studies on Marketing Automation, HR and BI, we found lots of interesting trends related to their requirements and challenges, as well as what their current vendors failed to do.

Key Findings

Our findings were among the most revealing of any of our previous studies.  The most noteworthy trends we discovered were:

For the Records

The top two requirements of CMMS buyers involved record keeping and documentation.  Work order management, at 76%, and asset tracking, at 75%, were the two most common requirements identified in our study.  Throughout our conversations with these buyers, we heard frequent complaints of inaccurate or out-of-date records.  These two features help automate and fix those documentation processes.

With work order management, records of completed work orders are kept, and the same job never gets done twice since managers can see when a work order is closed out.  For most of these buyers, their assets represent the core of their business.  Therefore, properly tracking those assets is key to running their business effectively.  Asset tracking includes their physical location, who used the asset and, to some extent, maintenance performed on the asset (usually limited to equipment).

Functionality Over Deployment

Following a similar trend to BI buyers, only 26% of CMMS buyers had a strong preference for one deployment or the other.  Additionally, only 17% had a slight preference for a particular deployment.  Of that 17%, several respondents mentioned that their top priority was fit, rather than deployment, and therefore they were willing to adopt a vendor following their least-preferred deployment model.  Unlike HR and marketing automation software, where buyers had strong preferences for the cloud, CMMS buyers value systems that get the job done more than anything else.

Time is Money

The top challenge that CMMS buyers identified was the time it takes to find a solution, at 70% of respondents, while sticking to a budget was second at 51%. This was in line with BI buyers, but opposite of HR and marketing automation buyers.  So, what gives?  Why are BI and CMMS buyers less concerned with their software budget?  We believe it all comes down to the importance of the functionality and the ROI.

Although HR and marketing are important business functions, tracking assets and inventory and performing maintenance encompass the core of most businesses buying CMMS software.  These manufacturers, distributors, industrialists, etc. depend on their assets and equipment more so than anything else.  Finding a solution to optimize their records and maintenance keeps these assets, and their businesses, running smoothly.  On top of all that, the ROI of a good CMMS is fairly easy to calculate, and has the potential to be quite large.

Who Needs Manual?

The only time manual is better than automatic is in a car’s transmission.  At least, that’s what we expect a CMMS buyer would believe. While evaluating responses for vendor failures, the most common answer was that their previous methods were too manual, at 34%.  This is important because automating various maintenance management processes is exactly what CMMS software is supposed to do.  If a solution still involves manual processes, then it’s not a very good solution.  After all, that’s what these buyers were trying to avoid in the first place.

Case in point: the top vendor failure in our other three studies were not enough features.  CMMS buyers, however, value proper automation of core features over additional functionality.  So if a solution involves too much manual work, today’s CMMS buyer won’t hesitate to quickly move on to something better.

Other Findings

Along with our key findings, we found some interesting trends in what buyers required, what challenges they faced and what their current solutions failed to do.  Here’s a breakdown of what we found:

All-Important Automation

Falling in line with the most common complaint regarding a solution being too manual, the top six requirements all had to do with automation.  Following work order management and asset tracking, the most common requirements were preventative maintenance (53%), inventory management (36%), reporting (23%) and maintenance tracking (19%).  From automating record keeping to providing automated maintenance reminders, these features help cut down on time-consuming tasks.

In addition to automation, one interesting requirement was mobile.  This was identified by 13% of buyers, which far outpaced our previous three studies.  We believe this to be so because of the nature of businesses using CMMS.  They tend to have a large number of field workers, as well as multiple locations (e.g. several plants across the US).  This creates a need for consistency across these various locations that, in turn, allows managers to see the real-time status of every job.

This May be Their First Rodeo

Although most of the challenges identified were ones that have come up in our other studies, one in particular stood out.  The third most common challenge CMMS buyers identified was finding their first system (35%), which was 25% more than in any of our previous studies.  CMMS isn’t what one typically thinks of as “core software,” especially when compared to HR, BI and marketing automation.

Most businesses tend to go after the aforementioned solutions, a CRM and/or an ERP system before moving on to more industry-specific software categories.  In light of this, it makes sense as to why so many of these businesses were searching for their first CMMS solution.

Functional Failures

From our findings, CMMS buyers clearly take exception to vendors that don’t provide automation or enough features.  As we mentioned earlier, too manual was, for the first time in one of our studies, the most identified vendor failure.  Not enough features was second (31%), followed by an outdated system (16%), an inefficient system (14%) and a system that was too complicated (11%).

All of these failures have one thing in common: they have to do with the system’s functionality.  Whether it’s owning a robust, automated system or an easy-to-use system, CMMS buyers value solid functionality.  This also further proves our assessment that money isn’t a huge factor to CMMS buyers.  In addition to the top five failures relating to the functionality, a mere 3% identified too expensive as a vendor failure (and thus didn’t even make it onto our chart).

What Did We Learn?

Similarly to BI, CMMS buyers are all about their functionality.  They value automation above all else, followed closely by powerful record keeping and documentation capabilities.  Today’s buyers are worried about the time it takes to select and implement a new solution, and they just don’t have time for any extra manual work.  As philosopher Peter Drucker said: “Nothing is less productive than to make efficient what should not be done at all.”  Such is the philosophy that the CMMS buyers of today subscribe to.

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