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Unformatted text preview: This article was originally published at Reliabilityweb.com, the Solution Oriented Asset Reliability web site for the plant
maintenance community and was used by permission. http://www.reliabilityweb.com Avoid the Hype in CMMS Selection
Guidelines for choosing a vendor that will deliver the products to
get the job done, at the proposed price.
By Nicholas Phillippi, Application Resource Consulting
It is no secret that the computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) and enterprise
asset management (EAM) systems industry has grown explosively over the past few years. The
ecosystem that has grown around this industry has exceeded
everyone's expectations in its size and speed of development.
Ten years ago there were just a few major CMMS software companies, and the state of
technology was such that no single package was able to meet all the requirements of any one
customer. Each vendor would attempt to show that its product met more of the customer's
requirements than the others did. Where requirements were not met, the vendor would propose
custom modifications or third party add-on packages.
Users of CMMS packages wound up with highly customized and often unsupportable versions of
what they bought from the vendor. Nevertheless, during those years, from the vendor's point of
view, differentiation was easy. If a vendor met more of the subset of the requirements that were
most important to the customer with its standard code, it was, all else being equal, the best
Today things are very different. Most vendors, industry analysts, and CMMS evaluation
consultants know that all of the top 20 CMMS applications work. In fact, most of them meet 80-90
percent of a customer's requirements right out of the box. How then can these vendors
differentiate themselves? Unfortunately for you, what are being promoted today as differentiating
capabilities are not items you are likely to find on your list of required functionality. Since the
vendors accept that the CMMS applications you are evaluating today are basically the same from
a functional perspective, they are continuously looking for extras such as the following to excite
you and motivate you to choose them:
Technology. A few CMMS suppliers heavily promote the technology or platform as a
differentiator (runs on Windows NT rather than UNIX or AS/400, for example). Savvy
manufacturing business people understand that platform/operating systems/database technology
is only a medium to deliver the business values. However, accepted industry standards such as
Windows 98 and NT operating systems, and popular databases such as Oracle and SQL Server,
n-tier client/server architecture, DCOM interfaces, and so on, may help ensure the CMMS is
compatible with other systems.
Product functionality. Some vendors still try to differentiate themselves on product. Most of you
know by now that product superiority in any industry is fleeting, if it ever really existed at all.
Vendor A's new release, today's latest and greatest, will be old news tomorrow when vendor B
releases its new version with even more features and functions. Today's killer application is
tomorrow's legacy system. It will always be that way.
Some vendors are willing to undercut competitors on price. These drastic reductions typically are
offered at the end of the evaluation cycle when the vendor feels it is losing. Your concern as a
buyer should be that vendors that systematically drop their prices to win business might not have ©2002 Netexpress Inc. 1 This article was originally published at Reliabilityweb.com, the Solution Oriented Asset Reliability web site for the plant
maintenance community and was used by permission. http://www.reliabilityweb.com enough operating profit to support growth; worse still, they may have under-funded their support
and developmental organizations which will eventually leave their customers high and dry.
A few vendors overwhelm the marketplace (and eventually themselves) with constant press
releases about the alliance partnerships they sign, industry requirements they commit to
satisfying, and integration to other applications they promise to deliver. This is nothing more than
marketing hype. No vendor can do it all.
Demonstration pony shows
Some vendors employ high-powered sales representatives who know little or nothing about the
product or the prospect's business. After a few weeks of learning the buzzwords, they are at your
doorstep, PowerPoint presentation at the ready. Although the unwary buyer may be impressed by
these gunslingers, their activities are devoid of value to a prospective buyer. Vendors will mislead
the prospect by demonstrating one version of the product while corporate ships another older
version. Vendors also may undersize hardware or required implementation services to keep their
prices competitive. Creative interpretation by CMMS vendors of request for proposal (RFP)
questions is rampant as well.
Finally, a few vendors in every market are in a hyper selling mode, where their own ambitions to
achieve market leadership blot out any interest in helping their customers reach their goals and
objectives. A sure sign of that is when the vendor, in an attempt to get you to jump on the
bandwagon, brags about all the deals it has won as if that alone will help your business be more
How does an evaluation committee pick a vendor that will deliver the products that will get the job
done, at the proposed price? See the accompanying section "Making the Vendor Evaluation
Process More Successful" for some tips.
In addition, the following considerations may be helpful in understanding the process of
evaluating potential CMMS vendors:
Number of users.
Make sure you clearly understand the vendor's definition of a user or seat. The simplest (though
not necessarily the best) arrangement is to license individuals, by name, to use the software.
More commonly, the customer will buy some number of concurrent user licenses. In this instance,
a larger number of individuals can be given access to the system, but only the specified number
of concurrent users can use the system at any given time. Typically, one concurrent license
serves three to four individual users, but this may vary with the amount of time each user needs
to access the system and when. Your choice will depend on your situation. Negotiate up front on
the cost of adding users later.
Feature freebies. If the vendor is offering numerous features at little or no cost, or if it offers free
training or modifications, beware. This is typically a desperation ploy by a vendor who is
struggling to survive. Examine the vendor's financial situation
and long-term business growth goals.
Degree of customization
In a software vendor's lexicon, the difference between "we can do that" (that's a standard
function) and "we could do that" (modification required) can be thousands of dollars. Semantic
differences such as this can lead to a completely different understanding of the capabilities of the
software product. During the demonstrations, make sure the vendor differentiates between what ©2002 Netexpress Inc. 2 This article was originally published at Reliabilityweb.com, the Solution Oriented Asset Reliability web site for the plant
maintenance community and was used by permission. http://www.reliabilityweb.com functionality actually exists and what needs to be done through customization. An essential
question is whether a source code change would be required. If so, allow for additional costs to
maintain and upgrade the custom changes through the life of the system.
Things such as telephone assistance and ongoing software maintenance are taken for granted.
They should not be. Is the support 24 by 7? When does the maintenance start? How is it priced?
Are annual maintenance fees tied to future price increases? What is the frequency and
magnitude of new releases?
Third party add-ons
Too often, a certain feature is proposed through a third party. Customers should make certain
that a solid interface exists and that it will be upwardly compatible and supported. Determine the
exact cost of the interface and any associated maintenance fees.
Most vendors offer methodologies designed to speed and simplify implementations. Although
these methodologies may be quick, they are definitely not easy. The typical approach is to offer
pre-set software parameters for an industry with little or no opportunity to change these
templates. If you want to do some business process optimization along with your CMMS
implementation, forget any fast path solution.
In order to keep costs low, vendors often propose public (or generic) classroom education. This is
not always the most cost-effective method. In a public class, you cannot get into the specifics of
your company's issues. It is generally advantageous to schedule customized education using
your own equipment and part numbers co-taught by a person who is deeply involved in your
implementation from the start.
There are great products and services in the CMMS software marketplace, from companies that
have abundant experience, high levels of integrity, and who will work as hard as they can to help
you be successful. Your challenge, then, is to see through the fog of hype, massive amounts of
information, and false claims, and find the vendor who is counting on your success, as opposed
to your order.
In the end, CMMS applications are not magic potions that will turn a company around and make
all your employees happy overnight. They are systems that take a lot of effort to install and can
have a tremendous payback. It is the software vendor's job to portray its product in the most
favorable light. It is the customer's job to ask the right questions and gain a full understanding of
the products and the vendor's capability to partner in success.
Nicholas Phillippi is CEO of Application Resource Consulting Inc.
e-mail: [email protected] ©2002 Netexpress Inc. 3 ...
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This note was uploaded on 11/10/2009 for the course INDUSTRIAL 20502935 taught by Professor Thomas during the Spring '09 term at University of Tech - Iraq.
- Spring '09