Who Should Manage Your CMMS System?

Managing A CMMS System

I’m often asked who in an organization should have primary responsibility for managing its Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS). There’s not one answer that fits every organization, but there are several things every organization should consider before making the decision.

Any CMMS worth its salt performs four basic functions:

  1. Preventive Maintenance (PM) Scheduling: Reminds maintenance engineers when to perform preventive checks and services on assets.
  2. Service Request Management: A way for your customers to submit repair requests, and for you to track them and provide updates.
  3. Work Logging: A way to document what planned (PMs) or unplanned (repairs) maintenance has occurred.
  4. Inventory Tracking: A means for tracking the use of repair parts or consumables, like lubricants or filters.

What ties all these functions together? In virtually every CMMS, the “document of record” is the Work Order.

  1. PMs generate planned work orders.
  2. Service requests generate unplanned work orders.
  3. Work completed is logged on the work order.
  4. Inventory consumption is documented on the work order.

Regardless of how the work order is initiated, it must have data drawn from (or written to) various data tables in the CMMS database. A well-prepared work order will contain the following data:

  • Dates: created, due, started, finished, closed
  • Work Classifications: priority, type, group, and planning category
  • Asset Identification: name and/or ID number
  • Personnel: initiator, planners, and executors (technicians and engineers)
  • Instructions: work and safety
  • Hours: estimated, actual, and machine downtime
  • Inventory: items consumed and associated costs

And once a work order is complete, then what good does all this data do us? Well, at that point, the work order becomes the source of actionable information. It feeds the reporting and analysis that drives decision-making to improve your maintenance operation.

Often the person making those decisions—the user or “consumer” of that information—is a likely candidate for CMMS owner.

Different CMMS Management Roles

The CMMS owner is the person with primary day-to-day operational responsibility for the system. It is his or her job to ensure the system is used to the greatest benefit of the organization to promote the effectiveness of action, the economy of resources, and the integrity of information.

The ideal owner…

  • Must be detail-oriented.
  • Must be tenacious, resolute, persistent, insistent, dogged, and determined to drive correct adoption and usage.
  • Cares that the data in the database is complete—including records of all maintenance work performed.
  • Cares that the data in the database is accurate.
  • Appreciates that multiple stakeholders use the CMMS data to make decisions.

An owner of a CMMS software implementation does not (necessarily)…

  • Create policy and procedures for all departments—but should be intimately involved in the process to develop them.
  • Set KPIs for departments, other than his or her own.

So how does each of our roles stack up as a potential CMMS owner?

The Maintenance Manager/Supervisor/Lead

This person is typically the top manager in a group. Because of the various titles used, we’ll call this position the Head Person in Change or the HPIC. The HPIC participates in strategic planning for the entire group, division, or company, depending on the size. They must ensure the department is functioning at a high level and contributing properly to the overall strategies and goals of the broader organization by utilizing CMMS software.

Being a CMMS owner requires a great deal of focused time on task, and necessitates attention to minutiae. Because of this, a high-level manager is not often a good candidate. While HPICs understanding of policy and process can be an asset, their need to keep an eye on the big picture can actually run counter to the demands of the CMMS-owner role to pay attention to the details.

The Maintenance Planner

Planners are responsible for ensuring jobs have all the resources they need to be completed on time and on budget. They’re very task-driven. Planners are heavy users of CMMS software and should demand that inventory and vendor records in the system be complete and well maintained. By the nature of their job, they must be detail-oriented.

If planners don’t have too much of a planning workload, they can be solid CMMS owners. However, if they’re overloaded, they’ll often revert to stealing time from CMMS administration and focusing on planning responsibilities. The results of bad planning show up much faster than the results of incomplete and inaccurate data in a CMMS system.

The Inventory Control Manager

Implementing a rigorous inventory control system in your maintenance department will typically provide you with a significant, and speedy, return on investment (ROI). Thousands of dollars are wasted by organizations annually due to poor inventory and purchasing controls. An inventory management module is built into most CMMS software packages. Inventory management is typically the last module to be implemented – if implemented at all. Why? Primarily because organizations have not computed the cost-benefit ratio of investing in the personnel and processes to make it happen. Also, tight inventory control demands discipline and attention to detail. Getting the right person(s) with the necessary skills is mandatory—not unlike finding the necessary skills for owning a CMMS software.

Related Articles: Six Ways to Level Up Your CMMS Implementation

Inventory control manager as CMMS software owner makes sense to me. They have to live in the CMMS software to set and monitor stock levels, manage the purchasing, receive inventory items, create kits for planned jobs, and issue inventory out against work orders. Their attention to detail and drive for accuracy are closely tied to work being done on the shop floor or throughout the facility—which means their inventory management objectives will be easily married to the overall effective use of a CMMS.

Maintenance Secretary/Administrator/Clerk

Some would say this is the busiest person in the maintenance department. Maintenance secretaries are responsible for starting and completing every job. They receive requests for services and file paperwork from completed jobs. Why not do all that in your CMMS software? Problems arise, though, because maintenance secretaries have so many other responsibilities. From part planner, to purchasing agent, to receiving clerk, to pickup and delivery specialist. From custodial staff to maintenance information reporters, to the person most responsible for keeping the department together. Because most people in a maintenance department have no idea what the maintenance secretary does, they tend to think the secretary has an infinite ability to take on more duties and responsibilities. If they are good at their jobs, no one knows what they do! It just happens.

It seems natural to assign the secretary CMMS ownership. Think twice before you do. The maintenance secretary is often not empowered with the authority to enforce the processes and procedures set up for the CMMS. The only way this works is if the HPIC empowers the maintenance secretary, and opens her daily schedule enough to manage the CMMS.


As you’ve probably figured out, I typically recommend choosing the inventory manager, or in some cases, the empowered secretary. Having the HPIC as the owner is a non-starter. Planners are too mission-critical in their primary roles.

There is another option, though—one worth seriously considering. Often it “pencils out” pretty easily. Add a staff position, or re-assign a staff member, to take on the job as his or her primary duty. When you build the job description for this new position you’ll find this position to be a high-level administrative or coordinator position—with significant authority. The beauty in hiring or reassigning someone is you get focus and accountability. As the CMMS system comes up to speed your efficiency and effectiveness will increase. Your maintenance cost will drop and your asset reliability will go up. CMMS implementation will be a good thing.

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