What is CMMS? The quick guide to everything you need to know

How CMMS changes the way you manage your maintenance operations

By | 3 minute read | January 26, 2020

Maintenance man in hard hat

Way back when, maintenance records were kept on paper. People also used to use paper maps for driving directions and walked uphill to school both ways. Thankfully, times have changed and so has the way you manage your maintenance operations. At its core, CMMS is a tool that enables more effective maintenance operations – no more greasy notebooks or spreadsheets. Before we go into too much depth, let’s get back to the basics.

What does CMMS stand for?

CMMS, short for computerized maintenance management system, is exactly what it sounds like. It is a software program (computerized) that maintains a database (system) of information on the maintenance operations of an organization (maintenance management). But a CMMS is not simply about data storage. It also improves workflows and generates valuable insights to take your operations to the next level.

This system allows workers to understand what assets need maintenance and where inventory is stored. It also helps management make more informed decisions around how they spend their maintenance dollars and where to allocate their resources. A CMMS also improves your ability to adhere to compliance standards within your industry. It eliminates the complexity of notebooks and spreadsheets by organizing the information you need at your fingertips to have world-class maintenance operations.

CMMS adds value to your organization

To put the value of a CMMS into perspective, consider this scenario. You own one vehicle. It’s not too hard to remember to change the oil every 3 months or keep up with basic maintenance needs.

Now you have five vehicles. Maybe you have a little notebook where you keep track of when each needs an oil change, new wiper blades, an inspection, or a new set of tires. Not too bad as long as you remember to write everything down and keep an eye on things when you drive each vehicle.

Now you have 50 vehicles. That notebook is getting crowded and confusing. Did you remember to write down when vehicle 27 went into the shop for new brake pads? Is vehicle 33 due for an oil change – or is that vehicle 34? Oh boy, you just spilled coffee on your handy notebook. There goes all your notes on vehicles 17-24.

Now you have 500 vehicles. You’re beginning to see the issues that start to arise. If only you had a database where you could easily track all of this information with no risk of it getting lost or misplaced! This is exactly the purpose a CMMS serves. A CMMS helps your business reduce costs associated with maintenance by organizing workflows and giving insight into the status of each asset. This ultimately improves the bottom line of your organization by ensuring all maintenance is performed at the most optimal time.

How did CMMS come to be?

The earliest versions of CMMS systems have been around since the 1960s but the technology didn’t really hit its stride until the 80s and 90s with the emergence of affordable computing and increased network access. As the technology has evolved, so too have its capabilities and the value it can provide.

IBM was at the forefront of the first form of CMMS. In the 1960s, maintenance technicians would use punch cards with IBM mainframes to handle maintenance tasks. As mainframes evolved into the 1970s, it enabled organizations to move from using punch cards to paper to feed their CMMS. Maintenance technicians would hand in paper checklists at the end of their shifts for submission into the CMMS.

As computers began to get smaller and more powerful in the 80s, CMMS technology became more accessible and affordable to small- and mid-sized organizations. The 1990s brought customization and the ability to share information across a local-area network (LAN). In the 2000s, we saw the emergence of intranets and web-based connectivity , allowing development of CMMS to expand on any internet-connected device. These advancements led to access to billions of individuals.

The latest generation of CMMS is cloud-based and highly mobile. Having a cloud- or hybrid-cloud-based solution has multiple benefits, not the least of which is speedy implementation, easy upgrades, and data security.

Maximo Application Suite is the CMMS you’ve been waiting for.

With Maximo Application Suite, you get the combination of the world’s leading enterprise asset management system with all of the benefits of CMMS. It’s market-leading technology offered on multi-cloud deployment for greater flexibility.

Explore the world of enterprise asset management

Learn more about CMMS, enterprise asset management (EAM) and asset performance management (APM). Then learn how you can get the most value from your enterprise assets with Maximo Application Suite.