A computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is a powerful software that can streamline maintenance operations, increase the asset lifecycle, improve employee productivity and increase your business’ overall ROI.

But it will only work if your entire team is on board and using the software properly. Without this kind of comprehensive adoption, you will run into the same problems that you had before you bought the CMMS – things like incomplete information, inaccurate data, or disparate information housed across many different systems or formats.

This is something that businesses often get wrong: according to one survey, 61% of maintenance managers find implementing new software somewhat challenging and only 39% of businesses admit to using a CMMS consistently to track maintenance tasks. That is because there are many things that can go wrong: training can be executed incorrectly or incompletely, the system can be misconfigured, there can be resistance to the technology – the list goes on.

That said, adoption is absolutely essential to proper CMMS operations. This requires top-to-bottom, cultural shifts in practices and mindsets. Here is how to get it right.


What Does CMMS Adoption Mean?

Broadly speaking, the term “CMMS adoption” simply refers to the widespread and correct use of a CMMS software during an organization’s day-to-day operations. The idea here is simple: you can have the best technology in the world, but if your employees do not like it, do not understand it or do not use it, it will not work as it should. You need widespread adoption to reap the benefits of your CMMS tool.

Unfortunately, this is often hard to achieve. According to one survey on CMMS adoption, only 52% of maintenance managers say that their technicians update work orders in the field (despite mobile compatibility being one of the key benefits of a modern CMMS), while 38% say that those work orders are updated from a desktop and 10% say they are not updated at all.

This is a huge issue. The whole purpose of a CMMS is to streamline maintenance activity in one comprehensive, up-to-date system – and that simply cannot work if people are not actually using the system properly.

Widespread CMMS adoption requires that all relevant personnel be on board, including:

  • Technicians
  • System administrators and maintenance managers
  • Operators
  • Inventory managers
  • Executives
  • Reliability engineers
  • Your IT teams


Why CMMS Adoption Remains Low

The most common barriers to CMMS adoption include:

CMMS Systems Are Too Complicated

According to a 2019 survey, CMMS adoption was only at 39% to track maintenance tasks, while 21% of participants used pen and paper, 28% used spreadsheets and 12% used no system at all.

This largely has to do with the fact that for many years CMMS systems were exclusively on-premise, and on-premise systems come with certain limitations in the modern, multi-site landscape we currently live in. Namely, on-premise systems:

  • Cannot effectively scale and customize as a company evolves.
  • Come with a lack of mobility and accessibility, leading to communication and flexibility issues that decrease productivity over time.
  • Do not integrate well with other systems, which can lead to inconsistent or incomplete data. This, in turn, can hobble a company’s ability to switch to data-driven, analytics-heavy operations — and that is what business today is all about.
  • Require manual patches and security updates that could lead to compromising security concerns.
  • Often call for complex coding and a huge amount of technical know-how to be properly implemented, managed and troubleshooted.

On-premise systems also come with a much larger up-front cost and a laborious installation process. In short, they were tough to implement and use, which largely defeated the purpose of getting the system for most maintenance managers.

Employees Fear of Replacement

Without automated and centralized systems, the majority of an organization’s tacit knowledge lies in the minds of its experienced and skilled workers. These individuals solve problems, train the new hires and add incredible value to an organization.

A CMMS system represents the threat of replacement to these individuals – so they may withhold information or refuse to use the CMMS altogether.

Discomfort with the Technology

A CMMS represents a huge leap away from a paper-based maintenance management system, and it requires extensive, ongoing training. Many organizations do not approach this training systematically or in a user-friendly way, and this gap in understanding could majorly hinder widespread adoption.

A Misunderstanding of the Purpose of a CMMS

People are largely creatures of habit and resistant to change, particularly when it comes to technology and work processes. If someone’s way of doing things works for them, why would they change it?

This is an especially prevalent point of friction for employees that do not truly understand the benefits of the new system and how it will make their jobs and their lives easier.

Ultimately, many of these points come down to one thing: company culture, or the fundamental perspectives, habits and practices of a particular organization. Ultimately, that culture must be overhauled to allow for widespread adoption of a CMMS or any other system.


How to Maximize CMMS Adoption in Your Organization from Day One

The good news is that there are defined measures you can take to change the culture in your business and maximize adoption.

Step 1: Get Your People on Board

First, you have to reduce friction among your team and break down any barriers to adoption. To start, you should:

Emphasize Benefits and Ease-Of-Use

You know that the people in your organization are likely going to have some resistance about changing the current system. You also know that there are certain things about your existing system that are not great – that is why you are getting a CMMS! Make sure, then, that you emphasize these shortcomings to your employees and answer the question “why should I care” for everyone you talk to.

For CEOs, the answer could be something along the lines of, “it will make our business more money and increase efficiency.” For technicians, “it will make your day-to-day tasks easier and less frustrating to complete.”

Overall, answering these questions effectively should generate some excitement for the new system while giving you a comprehensive understanding of where your team members stand.

Maintain Open Communication and Collaboration

It is also vital for you to understand the needs and desires of everyone on your team, from stakeholders and executives to inventory managers and maintenance technicians. Each one of these team members will have his/her own pain points and “must-haves” for the CMMS software – and they all should be a part of the selection process.

Your technicians, in particular, will be using the CMMS more than anyone else. Including them in demos and making sure that the system fits their needs will help them feel like their opinions matter – which, in turn, will increase adoption of the system.

Get Your Training Right

The right CMMS vendor will provide ongoing training and 24/7 support, including a broad asset management policy, training videos and modules, articles, demos and free trials.

Make sure that you implement this training from day one, starting with vendor-led, hands-on training. This will provide your technicians with valuable learning time in a friendly, low-risk environment so they can acclimate to the software at their own pace.

You also want to make sure that you stay on top of retraining when the software releases new features or when you notice any misuse.

Get Your Team Excited

It is your job to keep your team in the loop about changes that are coming and to get them feeling good about those changes. Create a positive environment surround the release and make sure that everyone is informed so no one is caught off-guard by the changes.

Emphasize Standout Features

The right CMMS will improve your operations and make your employees lives easier. Make sure that they understand that by emphasizing standout features. Mobile capabilities, in particular, will allow your technicians to access the information they need directly at an asset location, which can minimize confusion and increase efficiency in the facility. Similarly, data tracking can the centralization of key information can minimize costly rework and ensure that everyone has the information they need to do their job correctly.

Actively Recognize Good Work

A CMMS can give you a lot of powerful data about your technicians’ performance. Use this data to provide positive reinforcement to employees that are doing a great job and using the equipment most effectively.

Step 2: Develop Guiding Principles for Your Team to Follow

You will also want to establish guiding principles that will lay a strong, clear groundwork for proper CMMS use and adoption. After all, if you expect clear and ubiquitous user adoption, you need clear guidelines and cultural expectations.

Start with Company-Wide Policies
  • Establish official CMMS processes and rules: This will create a standard that all employees can work toward, and it can eliminate confusion and inconsistencies between employees.
  • Maintain open communication: What are the benefits of implementing a CMMS? Who should your team members turn to if they encounter an issue with the system? How will you ensure that there is ongoing training and adoption? Make sure that your communication is open and your processes are clear so no concerns go unaddressed.
  • Reward positive behavior: If people are doing a great job, let them know! This will not only encourage continued adoption among those employees but also encourage other team members to follow in their footsteps.
Establish Specific CMMS Rules

In the same vein, you want to make sure that there is no confusion when it comes to CMMS use. To this end, you can establish CMMS use principles. Some examples include:

  • “No work order, no work.” The idea here is simple enough: all work orders, including emergency work, must be immediately captured in the CMMS system.
  • The 400% rule. This rule establishes that 100% of labor, 100% of contractor costs and 100% of materials should be documented 100% of the time. This helps ensure that work orders are completed properly – and that the data integrity of your CMMS system remains intact.

Here, remember that the rules you establish should make the most sense for your business. To this end, it could be helpful to have a roundtable discussion with relevant employees to establish what guiding principles will make the most sense. Also, make sure that you have a dedicated CMMS administrator in charge of enforcing these rules and spearheading other CMMS tasks (read more on the importance of a dedicated administrator).


Final Thoughts

When implemented correctly, a CMMS system can be a transformative tool for your manufacturing operation, helping you increase efficiency, maximize insights and ultimately increase your employee satisfaction and company ROI.

If would like to learn more about choosing the right CMMS for your business, check out our Complete Guide to Selecting a CMMS System.