5 Common Concerns with Switching to a CMMS in Education Facilities

As budgets tightened, many school districts and educational institutions have adopted a strategy of simply fixing what broke to work within financial restrictions. At the same time, aging infrastructure in school facilities often complicates maintenance issues. 

However, as many discovered, reactive maintenance wasn’t the best strategy to make the most of what they had. So, more education facilities are turning to CMMS for the benefits it offers, including improved maintenance efficiency, increased asset reliability, and better decision-making. 

Like any software implementation, it’s important to avoid or work through common issues when implementing a new system. Education facilities may experience one or more of these commonly cited challenges when switching to CMMS software. Here’s how to deal with them.

Concern #1: Data Migration

CMMS relies on accurate and up-to-date data. Inaccurate or incomplete information can undermine the effectiveness of the system. One of the primary challenges is migrating existing maintenance data into the new CMMS. This process involves transferring data from various sources, such as spreadsheets or paper-based records, and ensuring its accuracy and integrity in the new system. 

Establishing a culture of data accuracy and accountability will maximize the benefits of a CMMS. Start with data cleansing and standardization to ensure smooth migration. Additionally, leading software vendors will offer a data integration toolkit that allows you to map and schedule data transfers from numerous data sources outside the application. Typically, these include spreadsheets, other databases, enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, accounting systems, PLCs, electronic meters, and more.

Concern #2: CMMS Customization

Every organization has unique maintenance processes and requirements. Customizing your CMMS to align with specific workflows and needs can be challenging. It may involve configuring the system, creating custom fields, defining user roles and permissions, and integrating with other software applications.

Make sure your CMMS software offers the customization your team needs. Advanced customization tools will give you the flexibility to customize your CMMS software to track and view maintenance data, particularly special codes or internal data. Look for features where you can easily choose the language, themes, list layouts, form layouts, nesting, and prompts to suit your needs. If you can track the data that your users need, then you can report on the information you and your organization’s managers need to know about.

Concern #3: User Adoption and Training

A successful maintenance management program requires more than just great software. You need well-trained people who know how to use it, and you need a solution set up right to work with your company’s operations. Reluctance to change or to learn new technology can hinder user adoption, whether that resistance comes from management, maintenance requesters, or your maintenance team.

Introducing a new system requires getting buy-in from employees and ensuring they are comfortable using the CMMS. No investment pays off as readily as training. These days training is available in all kinds of formats that fit all kinds of budgets. You have plenty of other options—including on-site, classroom, online and mentor programs. Plus, your investment in training pays off with every work order as your team becomes more efficient.

Concern #4: System Integration

Every organization relies on an assortment of systems to capture, store, and report on activities and transactions across the enterprise. Your facility likely has other software systems in place, such as ERP or accounting systems. Integrating the CMMS with these systems can be complex. Your vendor will need to address compatibility issues and the need for data exchange protocols.

Data integration tools will ensure that applications remain synchronized, providing users with accurate and up-to-date information. Whenever a related record or transaction is changed in one application, those modifications should be mirrored in the other application. For example, your accounting team would continue to use their financial application for their tasks, while your CMMS receives the synchronized data for informational and reporting purposes.

Concern #5: Scalability

When your organization grows, maintenance feels the impact. Suddenly you’ve got more equipment to maintain, additional facilities to support, new staff members to manage, extra inventory to store, and different safety procedures to perform. Organizations evolve and expand over time, and your CMMS should be able to accommodate future growth and changing needs.

Your CMMS should offer options to make it easy and cost effective to add on to the software without having to start from scratch. Planning for scalability and flexibility in system design and functionality is vital to avoid outgrowing the CMMS or requiring significant reconfiguration down the line.

Identifying potential roadblocks is the first step to helping you find solutions that will lead to your success. By working through these challenges, education facilities can successfully implement a CMMS and reap its long-term benefits for maintenance management and overall operational efficiency.

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