ADVANCING CMMS TO SUPPORT PERFORMANCE BASED ASSET
Vincent Yee, NEXGEN Utility Management
Q: Do you own a Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS)?
A: Yes is the most likely answer.
Q: Are you getting the true value of the CMMS and does is support your asset management
A: No in most cases.
Many utilities either already have a Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS) or
are intending to purchase one in the near future. In many cases, the utilities that already have
a CMMS may not be getting the true value of the system and are not aligned with the
organizational objectives such as asset management and performance management. No one is
really to blame for this except that it may be time to reevaluate these utilities’ CMMS to
determine how they can further advance the system to support dynamic utilities with
evolving asset management and performance management objectives.
Five steps to get more out of a CMMS to support performance based asset
1. Identify asset management objectives. In recent years, asset management philosophies
such as risk based decisions, criticality and risk costs have really altered utilities’
perspectives on how they should manage their assets and develop capital improvement
projects. This step would visit the big picture asset management objectives, which drives the
configuration and reporting requirements of the CMMS.
2. Develop system integration strategy. From the defined asset management objectives, what
type of systems and system integration are required to support them. Whether they are
linking the Geographic Information System (GIS), Customer Information System (CIS) and
mobile technology with CMMS, an integration strategy needs to be identified.
3. Optimize existing business processes. Many utilities would like to optimize their current
business process and set up the CMMS to support how they do business. Often this effort
was overlooked in the initial CMMS implementation and as a result, the CMMS drives the
utilities’ business processes, which is not preferred. Current and optimized business
processes need to be identified to help configure the CMMS.
4. Configure the CMMS to support objectives. Once the desired objectives, integration
strategies and business processes have been identified, the CMMS needs to be configured to
support those objectives. The configuration must support the utilities’ asset management
performance metrics and reporting requirements. This is an important step to make sure that
they new configuration is set up correctly and tested prior to roll out.
5. Train and implement changes. To successfully implement these changes with the CMMS,
adequate training is required to effectively roll out the system and processes to the utilities. A
pilot implementation prior to system wide roll out may be useful in identifying issues early.
This paper will present several case studies where they are further advancing their CMMS to
support their asset management goals. This paper will share their approach, results and
lessons learned from their process in advancing CMMS to support their performance based
asset management program.
Asset Management, Computer Maintenance Management System (CMMS), Integration,
This paper focused on helping agencies that have already implemented a CMMS and are
expecting more out of their investments. It can be a variety of improvement objectives that
could include the following:
Desire to better align the CMMS to support their asset management program.
Need to apply more consistent CMMS business processes to ensure accurate data.
Retain knowledge of retiring baby boomers by documenting business process and
operations/maintenance procedures in the CMMS.
Implement additional CMMS modules (i.e. parts inventory, mobile)
Establish performance management metrics and configure the CMMS to report.
Implement mobile technology to gain efficiency in operations and maintenance.
Replace obsolete CMMS.
Utilities recognize that the core objective of implementing a CMMS is to support their asset
management goals. This paper shares our experiences in helping utilities advance their
CMMS to support a performance based asset management program.
Our approach to advance utility’s CMMS to support its asset management goals involve five
critical steps as shown the following figure.
FIGURE 1. FIVE STEP APPROACH TO ADVANCE A CMMS TO SUPPORT A PERFORMANCE BASED ASSET MANAGEMENT
Develop Optimize Configure
Identify Asset Training &
Systems Existing CMMS to
Integration Business Support
Strategy Processes Objectives
Results: Results: Results: Results: Results:
Clear Establish More efficient CMMS to Properly
understanding information business support trained staff
of asset systems processes business integrating
management integration plans related to processes & CMMS into
goals CMMS asset their core
1. IDENTIFY ASSET MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES
The first step is for the utility to identify its asset management objectives. Establishing its
asset management objectives ensure alignment between the utility’s CMMS with its asset
management objectives. Before identifying the utility’s asset management objectives, it
needs to assess its current asset management practices and CMMS core functionalities. As
the utility establishes its asset management goals, it is important to identify performance
metrics to measure the asset management program. These performance metrics will be used
for the CMMS configuration. Review of its asset management best practices include
Asset management program
Sewer System Management Plan (California’s version of Capacity Management
Operations and Maintenance)
Assessment of the utility’s core CMMS functionalities include
Fleet and equipment management
We have developed a list of questions to assess the current asset management practices and
CMMS functionalities. Each of these asset management and CMMS elements are prioritized
for importance. The implementation of each of these elements should be according to
criticality. The following are the definitions of the priorities.
Priority 1 elements are required for basic CMMS functionalities.
Priority 2 elements are for CMMS best practices.
Priority 3 elements are optional to gain operational efficiency.
The following figure presents the assessment elements for asset management best practices
and core CMMS functionalities.
Figure 2. CMMS assessment topics
2. DEVELOP SYSTEM INTEGRATION STRATEGY
Besides CMMS, most utilities have multiple information systems that may include a
Customer Information System (CIS), Geographic Information System (GIS), Financial
Information System (FIS), mobile devices, Global Positioning System (GPS) and training
trackers. Often, utilities struggle with having duplicate information in multiple information
systems and wished they could integrate their information systems to streamline their
information systems. The CMMS is typically one of the core repository for asset information
and often interfaces with the utilities’ other information systems. The following figure
presents the typical information systems that may integrate with the CMMS.
Figure 3. Information systems integration with CMMS
Based on the utility’s asset management and CMMS goals, it can develop an information
systems integration plan with its CMMS. If there are multiple information systems that store
duplicate information, the utility needs to establish which information system will store the
data and how the other information systems will interface to acquire the information. There
should not be duplicate data in more than one information system. Otherwise, it will be a
nightmare for the utility to manage and update the information in multiple information
The utility needs to start by developing a high level integration plan of its CMMS with its
other relevant information systems. The integration process should be involved the users and
the departments that own the information systems. The integration needs to be tested prior to
system wide roll out.
3. OPTIMIZE EXISTING BUSINESS PROCESSES
It is common that utilities don’t consistently utilize their CMMS and thus results in
incomplete data, inconsistent information and inaccurate reports. The resolution is to
establish consistent business processes and implement across the utility. The utility needs to
map out existing business processes for its core CMMS functionalities. Typical CMMS
functionalities are asset inventory, service requests, work orders, preventive maintenance,
condition assessment, new assets, parts inventory and training. The utility needs to map out
its current business processes first. The business process maps should identify processes
relative to responsible groups (i.e. field crews, supervisors, managers, etc). The business
process mapping should be developed through facilitated meetings with the participants.
This is a good opportunity to extract the institutional knowledge from the retiring baby
boomers and map out the business processes. It is also a good opportunity to document any
operations and maintenance philosophies and program that should be established in the
CMMS for consistent application.
Once the existing business processes are mapped, the utility needs to review to identify
opportunities to optimize the processes for the CMMS. In most cases, the utility will either
identify changes in their business processes to more effectively utilize its CMMS. This is
typically accomplished through several facilitated workshops. The recommended
modifications to the business processes should be mapped as the optimized business
processes. These mapped business processes will be used for the CMMS configuration and
training. The following is an example of a business process map.
Figure 4. Business process mapping to ensure consistency in CMMS practices
Work Orders - New
Create WO Yes Complete WO
WO & adjust
Create WO No Complete WO
Communicate with Checking/closing
Assign WO to
Create WO Approve WO No requestor’s WO & adjust
Lead or Field Crew
Close WO in
4. CONFIGURE THE CMMS TO SUPPORT OBJECTIVES
One of the reasons that CMMS users often complain about the ineffectiveness of their
CMMS is because it is incorrectly configured. It is typically not because the CMMS is
incapable of meeting their requirements but rather that it was never properly configured to
serve their goals. The CMMS will be configured based on the previously established asset
management goals, integration strategies, business processes and performance management.
It is important to configure the CMMS to be able to generate performance management
reports to support good asset management decisions.
Before physically configuring the CMMS, the utility needs to develop a list of configuration
requirements. These requirements need to specific to the expectations and outputs of the
CMMS. Once established and accepted by the users, the CMMS should be configured and
tested by the project team. It is important to test the configuration prior to roll out to the
entire team. Often, it may take several configuration iterations before the CMMS is ready for
the users. If the CMMS is rolled out with the new configuration before it is properly tested,
the users will encounter errors and loose confidence in the CMMS which may lead to
challenges in getting users acceptance.
If the resources are available, we would recommend a pilot team to help with providing input
and testing the configuration of the CMMS. The pilot team could provide valuable input to
the configuration and testing. It will allow the utility to catch any problems prior to system
wide roll out.
5. TRAIN AND IMPLEMENT CHANGES
The final step to advance the CMMS is to train and implement the newly configured CMMS.
Adequate training of all the key users is critical to effectively implement the CMMS.
Training is meant to educate the trainees on how to use the CMMS application and to instill
consistent business processes that were established. Often, field crews may not have gotten
adequate training in the original CMMS implementation and may be unfamiliar with
computers and the software. Some of the users may not have been with the utility during the
original CMMS training and implementation. This training process allows an opportunity to
refresh the importance of the utility’s asset management program and CMMS. Proper
training should be two to three week for each user group.
An effective training should incorporate the CMMS training with the business processes. The
users need to learn how to use the CMMS and to apply the business processes for
consistency. The training can either be led by the project team or with the software vendor. It
should not be a stand alone software training without the business processes.
Based on several case studies on advancing their CMMS, we have identified key challenges
and solutions to the issues. Key challenges and solutions that were identified include the
Users’ skeptism of the CMMS advancing Need to include the skeptical users as part of
process because of their past failures. This is the project team to lead them through the
typically reflected in the lack of assessment, business processes, integration,
participation in the project. configuration and implementation. Ideally,
appoint these skeptical users to be part of the
pilot team and be part of the testing and
Users’ apprehension that the CMMS is Demonstrate to them that it isn’t the
capable of meeting their expectations. Users limitations of the CMMS and rather that
are looking to replace the existing CMMS. usage. Show value early in the project so they
see that they see the potential value of the
Lack of support from upper management. Acquire upper management support prior to or
The lack of mandate results in limited early in the project. Management needs to be
CMMS usage and inconsistent practices of supportive and involved during the entire
the new business processes. CMMS advancement project. Users need to
hear management’s asset management and
CMMS goals. Users must understand that the
project is mandatory.
Users vary in computer and CMMS Provide a one day basic computer training
knowledge. Some users may have limited prior to the CMMS training and
computer knowledge and may require implementation. Pair up the experience
additional computer training prior to the computer users with users that require
CMMS training. additional assistance during CMMS training.
Users question the length of the Prove to users that this approach has been
implementation steps and schedule. Why do successfully applied at other utilities. Share
we need to go through all this when it is success stories and benchmark results.
working just fine? Why is it taking so long?
Utility’s concern on cost for Present the opportunities of a properly
implementation. Why can’t we just install implemented CMMS to support utility’s asset
the software and let the users apply it? Why management program. Share asset
do we need to hire a consultant or establish management best practices and benchmark
a project team to advance the CMMS? utility’s results. Ask whether the utility is
capable of reaching such goals.
Integrating the CMMS with other If the utility desires to fully integrate its
information systems can be challenging CMMS with other information systems, it is
especially if the information systems (FIS, necessary to involve the other department to
CIS, GIS) are managed by another acquire support and assistance in integration.
department. The finance, customer service and engineering
departments need to be an active project team
members in establishing the ownership of the
data and business processes.
Our experiences in advancing utilities’ CMMS have proven to be effective in supporting
their asset management program. Utilities that have gone through this process have further
advanced their CMMS and are now using it more effectively, consistently and getting more
value out of their investments. The effort of going through a project similar to this far
outweighs the status quo that has provided relatively limited results in supporting utility’s
asset management program.
provided relatively limited results in supporting utility’s
asset management program.