8 Important Questions to Ask About a CMMS Vendor

We all know that software features and services are important when selecting a CMMS. Most people focus primarily on asking questions about the software and occasionally about services and implementation. What many people don’t realize is that it is equally important to inquire about the maintenance software company itself.

Purchasing a CMMS is an investment. Aside from employees, a company’s data is their most important asset. Just like you wouldn’t have an untrained and unskilled worker service equipment worth thousands of dollars, you shouldn’t trust your data or data systems to just anyone. Concentrate on these eight questions when evaluating a new maintenance software supplier to ensure they are a dependable choice.

1. Is the company well-established?
The majority of new businesses fail within the first five years. If you install software now and your CMMS vendor fails within a few years, you lose out on support, service and future upgrades. If you are on a hosted plan, you may even find your data missing or difficult to recover. If a CMMS company has a long tenure, this is an indication that they have continually offered good products and services to their customers. Your best bet: go with a company that is 15 years old or more.

2. Do they offer a flexible and forward-thinking product?
Technology is advancing fast and companies are continuously updating their hardware and business processes. It is imperative that a CMMS provider has a product that allows for future conversion to barcodes, hand held devices and other technological advancements. Your best bet: find a company that already uses handhelds, barcodes and smartphones; that way you know that they are not only flexible, but up-to-date.

3. Do they offer implementation services?
Ask if the CMMS company provides sufficient resources for a complete installation. Make sure the vendor will work with you to identify goals, design a realistic implementation plan, and assist with the execution of the plan to ensure success. If your company is understaffed or lacks expertise, does the vendor offer services that identify your facility data, help you organize that data to maximize efficiency, and build your maintenance database? Your best bet: find a company that has a ‘services’ department and a VP or Director of Services; that way you know it isn’t just another sales function.

4. What kind of training do they offer?
Does the vendor offer varying levels of training to ensure your mechanics and supervisors have the abilities, education and positive outlook needed to run the program? Also consider the proximity of training classes and whether they offer advanced classes beyond the basics in order to promote maximum success. You want a CMMS company that not only gives you the software, but gives you the knowledge to use it. Your best bet: find a CMMS provider who offers remote online training, on-site training and pre-scheduled classes.

5. Will they be there to support you?
Make sure there is someone you can turn to if you get stuck. Ask if the vendor has a responsive support department equipped with a knowledgeable staff. Ensure the cost for support is affordable and inquire what kind of outlets they use for inquiries such as email, website, telephone, IM chat or others. Keep in mind that if the company is out of the country, their hours of operation may not coincide with yours. Your best bet: find a company with an in-house support center and call the support line to test their response. Bonus points for having an online ticketing system for issues.

6. Have they successfully served other customers within your industry?
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. CMMS reviews are a great way to narrow down your list of possible software providers and ultimately chose the best CMMS company. Reliable vendors should be happy to provide comparable industry references from past customers in order to prove they have sufficient experience. Your best bet: get 3 references in your industry and 3 references that are geographically close to you to cover all your bases.

7. Do they offer economical customizations?
Think long term. Your company could possibly want alterations or enhancements to your CMMS so ensure that your vendor has the ability to easily customize your software at an economical price point, should you ever need it. Feel free to ask for examples of other customizations they’ve completed.

8. Do they provide free upgrades?
Ask about their upgrade policy. Respectable software companies are constantly improving their software features and functions and it’s important that you have access to these improved versions. If they are going to charge you every time they release a new version, is it worth the ongoing cost? Your best bet: find a company with free upgrades or upgrades that are included with a support package. Also check to make sure that they actually do release major upgrades at least every 18-24 months.

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