Go Beyond CMMS Training for Better Maintenance Results


I was asked the other day about some ideas on what to do next with a CMMS program implementation. The customer has multiple plants and the plant personnel had all been ‘trained.’  However, the implementation was stalled.  No one was actually using the system.  The users were merely inputting some data and then going on about their business as usual. The CMMS had become an additional, time consuming task to do in an already busy day for the maintenance managers and plant managers. Non use and failure were right in the headlights.

Too often organizations confuse ‘training’ with implementation.  Imagine teaching a person how punt, pass and kick a football without their ever having seen or heard anything about the game of football.  Knowing how to punt, pass and kick a football doesn’t make a person a football player.  Even though they may be well trained in how to do the basic task of the game, they are not football players.

So what does a person well trained in the basic skills of football need to know to be a football player?  What do they need to know to be an effective part of a football team? They need to see the big picture.  These learned skills need to be put into context.  The trainee needs to know the goals and objectives along with the rules of the game.  They need to know the playbook which identifies the strategies for the game.  They also need to learn their individual responsibilities as well as those of all the other players.  Most importantly they need to know how to keep score.  Knowing the scoring system allows everyone to benchmark their progress towards the goals.

It is the same with implementing an EAM/CMMS.  Training is critical component, but training without context it is like reading a dictionary; the story is a little weak and most people don’t finish the book.

To take an EAM/CMMS implementation where management imagines it to be the objectives need to be clearly stated.  The rules of engagement must be understood by all.  The processes must be clearly laid out and individual duties and responsibilities understood and accepted.  And, most importantly management needs to explain the scoring system.

“It is a poor mechanic who blames his tools.”  When an EAM/CMMS implementation fails it is not a software problem; it is not a staff problem; it is not an infrastructure problem; it is a management problem. 

Management has to demonstrate their commitment to use the data in decision making by steadfastly driving all decisions back to the data.  Use work order type data to develop requirements for new hires.  When a machine fails, run a report to determine the maintenance history and then make the repair or replace decision based on the data. Move to an ABC analysis on plant inventory.  Measure inventory turns.  Compare vendor charges from multiple vendors for similar parts and services. 

“Show me the data.”  This requirement must be made at each level of decision making.  In the beginning there won’t be much data, but when coordinators and technicians know they will be required to show the data they’ll start to build the data trail. The only way people will trust the data, is if they use the data.

Management needs to identify what data is important to them for decision making.  This can be done by requiring two to three reports, once a week or month.  Management must demand the reports are turned in, on time and in the proper format.  No excuses.  Here are some ideas:

  • Downtime by machine/shift/line/system
  • Wrench time (logged labor hours on work orders) per day/week/month per employee
  • Cost of inventory consumed on work orders
  • Proactive vs. Reactive maintenance
  • Labor hours by work type /failure code / location / cost center……
  • Most common failure reasons
  • Backlog of pending work (sum of estimated hours on open work orders)

Once the data is in, management needs to aggregate and trend this data.  Then they need to share the results with the whole team, with their analysis.  By sharing the results management lights up the scoreboard for everyone to see if they scored a touchdown, or had to settle for a field goal.