If you’ve made the decision to deploy a robust asset management tool for your business, you’re likely on the right track. The right software can empower your organization with data-driven insight, actionable information and powerful preventive maintenance capabilities.

And, if you’ve done your research, you likely already know that the two main players here are computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management (EAM) software. But the lines between these tools are admittedly blurred, and there’s a ton of overlap that may hinder your ability to make a clear and effective decision between the two.

Here’s everything you need to know about CMMS, EAM and how to determine which tool is the best fit for your business.


Defining CMMS & EAM

Though the terms CMMS and EAM are often used interchangeably – and both tools can help organizations automate operations and move from reactive to preventive maintenance strategies – it’s important to note that the systems are not the same.


What is a CMMS?

When they first came into existence decades ago, CMMS systems aimed to replace manual work and paper records in four key areas: work orders, preventive maintenance, inventory control and equipment history. But the first CMMS tools were primitive and inefficient data storage tools, and it was difficult to even run reports, let alone effectively analyze the data at hand. This has all changed.

Today, enterprise CMMS software focuses specifically on maintenance and centralizing information to facilitate and automate maintenance during the operational part of an asset’s lifecycle. In other words, a CMMS system exists to help you understand how your assets are doing now and what you should plan for in the future to maximize your uptime and revenue.

More specifically, a CMMS can provide your team with:

  • Comprehensive work order management and preventive maintenance capabilities
  • Robust asset maintenance
  • Insight into asset performance and reporting
  • MRO inventory management
  • Audit preparedness

What’s more, many modern CMMS systems are using machine learning and AI developments to expand their predictive maintenance capabilities. Ultimately, this kind of physical asset insight can help your business increase efficiency, connect systems, improve team management, budget effectively, prioritize work orders, reduce downtime and more – all from one centralized, easy-to-use system.

Accruent - Blog Post - Does Your Business Need a CMMS or an EAM?

That said, the core function of a CMMS remains to help businesses effectively execute work orders and optimize their maintenance operations during the operational part of the asset lifecycle.

As it relates to EAM, a CMMS can actually fit under the EAM umbrella and can be considered to be a component of a broader EAM system.


What is an EAM System?

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) software, on the other hand, provides a wider range of features to track, manage, and analyze asset performance and costs through the whole asset lifecycle, from acquisition to disposal.

Along with containing a CMMS component, a robust EAM solution can also provide features outside of preventive maintenance. Possible features include:

  • An inventory management system
  • A purchasing management system
  • Document and knowledge management systems
  • An accounting system and financial management
  • A project management system
  • Multisite management tools
  • Performance management tools
  • Labor management tools
  • Service contract management
  • Lockout tagout procedures

This broad suite of capabilities gives asset managers full transparency into the historical and present state of assets so they can report to other departments, optimize asset performance, reduce their total cost of ownership and more.

Accruent - Blog Post - Does Your Business Need a CMMS or an EAM?


Choosing What You Need: EAM vs. CMMS

So which tool do you need for your business?


The Tools Can Be Used Interchangeably

In recent years, this question has become more difficult to answer because there can be a significant amount of overlap between the two tools. Thanks, in part, to Wi-Fi, the internet and rising IoT capabilities, modern CMMS systems can offer enterprise-wide solutions that make them suitable for a multi-site business – just like an EAM.

Additionally, many CMMS systems – including Accruent’s Maintenance Connection – now offer EAM-type functionality and have the ability to easily merge with providers that strengthen their offerings considerably.

In short, you can find a CMMS system that is robust enough to offer EAM-type functionality – and you can certainly handle CMMS-level needs with an EAM.

That said, just because you can doesn't mean that you should. After all, you don’t want to simply “make something work” – you want to find the tool that is best suited to meet your technological capabilities, budget restraints and scope.


General Key Differences

Ultimately, computerized maintenance management systems are dedicated, streamlined tools for managing maintenance operations and they’re not exclusively designed to provide extended functionality beyond that scope. If you have smaller maintenance operations and need a simple and effective way to manage your work orders, records and spare parts, this may be the ideal solution for you. Plus, CMMS software is usually much less costly than a more powerful EAM.

Enterprise asset management software, on the other hand, is often used by companies that have outgrown their CMMS system. If your organization has hundreds of physical assets and asset managers – along with complex systems and operations across multiple sites – then it may be time for you to make the switch.

Or don’t choose at all! Accruent’s Maintenance Connection solution can serve as both a CMMS or a full-function EAM. Watch a demo now.