Choosing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is not a simple process.
Many times, the focus of the selection will stay on the software itself. The CMMS project team may answer questions like:
- Will the features meet all the needs of the organization?
- How will the data be stored?
- Is the system flexible enough to handle my business as it grows?
These questions are key in narrowing down your search. However, the CMMS is only half of what you’re investing in.
Knowing the Vendor Behind the Solution
An organization’s two most important assets are its employees and its data.
When choosing a CMMS, you are entrusting the software vendor with the collection, organization, and storage of your data. You’re also trusting that the vendor is updating and improving its software to keep it running smoothly, as well as providing you with the necessary support and information to use the solution.
Knowing a CMMS vendor’s complete profile and products are crucial in deciding which solution to purchase.
Once you have your list of potential software providers narrowed down to three or four, ask each vendor these seven questions before signing on the dotted line:
1. How long have you been in business?
The vendor’s longevity is a good indicator of how established and financially sound it is. It also shows the vendor has been consistently providing quality products and services that can potentially take you far into the future.
2.Can you provide a list of customers in the ___ industry?
You want to make sure the vendor has experience serving other customers within your industry. This ensures the CMMS and its future upgrades will meet the needs of your organization.
Sometimes vendors are weary of providing customers’ names for legal reasons. If you run into this, some alternative questions you can ask are:
- What industry is the CMMS intended for?
- Can you provide some successful use cases?
- Check the Software Advice‘s page to see how they rank.
3. How often do you update your product?
Vendors that frequently update their solutions are aggressive to adapt to market trends and changes. Consider asking about the product’s evolution or software Road Map to get an idea of how often the vendor offers new products or feature releases.
4. What is your pricing structure?
It’s especially important to ask about the pricing structure if it isn’t clear. You can easily open up this discussion by asking about costs for additional users and their refund policy.
When discussing pricing, be sure to ask about the following:
- Setup costs
- Training costs
- Support and services costs
- Additional hardware you need to provide
- Cloud vs. On-Premise hosting
- Long-term fees
- If discounts are available
5. What is your implementation process?
The CMMS vendor should have a clear implementation plan available. Reviewing it will give you a better idea of how long system setup will take. Also consider asking about their ability to integrate with your existing applications and how that might change a potential implementation timeline.
6. Do you provide training?
If training is provided, chances are the cost is included in any setup costs. Be sure to discuss what material will be provided, how long you have access to that material and how many users can be included in the training sessions.
If training isn’t provided, ask about how training will be conducted, how much it costs and what resources are available for this process.
7. What support services do you provide?
It’s important to know how the vendor provides tech support for both emergencies and non-emergencies. You also want to discuss how to reach customer support for non-technology related issues and if there are costs associated with specific support services the vendor provides.
While discussing this, you might want to ask if the data collected and stored in the CMMS can be extracted to use in other systems. This is good to know in case you eventually decide to change CMMS vendors down the road.
The Positive Effect
Investing in a vendor is just as important as investing in a CMMS. By asking these key questions and taking an in-depth look at the CMMS vendor, you reduce the risk of choosing a CMMS that doesn’t meet your company’s needs.
Author Bio: Elizabeth is an editor with Better Buys, a trusted source of maintenance software news and research. Follow her at @ElizMazenko for more on enterprise software and related technology research.