Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are alike in many ways — but they also have slightly different sets of functionality, according to their most common uses.
On a very basic level, some of the differences between these two categories of software are evident in their names — CMMS includes the word ‘maintenance’, and that’s its major focus — a focus on streamlining and automating maintenance tasks and providing communications for maintenance-related activities. On the other hand, EAM includes the term ‘asset management’. Its focus is generally on preserving an asset for its full life cycle, and maximizing its potential for enterprise use.
Another way to explain the general difference between EAM and CMMS is with a simple logic statement — that while all (or most) EAM tools have some CMMS capability, not all CMMS tools have the types of things considered as EAM functionality. Another way to say this is that EAM is broader and more comprehensive than CMMS, more sophisticated in general and more robust in terms of its scope.
Or, think about the difference between EAM and CMMS in terms of size and company structure. In some cases, some companies may upgrade to EAM when they have outgrown a simpler CMMS program. Some experts give a rule of thumb such as the idea that a company with over 100 maintenance people would be more likely to adopt EAM tools. There’s also the idea that a company with more diverse maintenance staff, for example, a company with mechanical maintenance teams as well as IT maintenance departments, might also make more use of EAM systems than a smaller company that may only have a dozen or so maintenance workers, and could be fairly happy with the limited functionality of a CMMS suite.
One of the most common ways that companies use CMMS is simply as a communications process for work orders and other maintenance tasks.
Thinking about CMMS as a ‘work order system’ is instructive, because it’s part of how many companies have benefited from implementing these tools, as new software products have helped the business world to modernize.
The idea is that you need a centralized space to keep track of all existing work orders and maintenance requirements. When you don’t have one of these centralized spaces, things go missing and items get overlooked. So the primary use of CMMS in many companies is as a digital system for making sure that maintenance tasks get done and that maintenance requests get honored, and that each machine or asset gets its own special maintenance monitoring.
As a concentrated system, the CMMS suite may be great for specific things like predictive and preventative maintenance. It may have just the right range of features for documenting everything that goes into regular and consistent maintenance, but not a lot of peripherals involving asset credentialing or vendor relationships. So that’s great for a team that is only focused on keeping machines running, but not as good for a team that is tasked with making buying and long-term use decisions.
The use of EAM, again, is much broader and geared toward a greater spectrum of planning outcomes. It includes a maintenance perspective, but it also includes elements of design perspectives, and the idea that by creating digital models, companies can really optimize how they use each asset that they invest money in, according to its build and the greater context around its use.
EAM tools may include insurance and warranty information. They may look at things like the environmental performance of an asset or piece of machinery. They may even link up to inventory and supply chain software. Some companies describe EAM tools as ensuring that change never affects total cost of ownership (TCO) of an asset.
Then there is promoting EAM systems that may be expanded to include more future functionality. Some of these systems can use application programming interfaces or APIs to connect to a broader IT architecture. EAM is often meant for executive-level viewing and feedback, to help decision-makers to chart the best course for business. EAM tools may also include attention to things like ISO standards or other key standards.
In a sense, EAM tools provide more of a context for planning and evaluation. In the same ways that things like Customer Relationship Management tools direct connections with a customer base, EAM tools give leaders a birds-eye view of what’s going in terms of assets.
Those with a responsibility to build out software architectures for business can look at EAM and CMMS systems side by side to get an idea of what types of features and functionality each tools set has, with the understanding that EAM will generally aggregate more diverse tools than CMMS.