Computerized Maintenance Management – Integrated vs. Stand Alone
Question: I like the idea of a simple, stand alone Computerized Maintenance Management system for my department, but my company is telling me they are looking into a fully integrated company wide computer system* and it will include my maintenance department information. Which is better?
Answer: The precise answer is “That depends”:
A stand alone Computerized Maintenance Management system is more focused on what you and your maintenance department need. The system is frequently designed by a maintenance professional who can build a specialized system designed to make your life easier and your department more productive.
An integrated system is usually focused on the numbers – it makes sure the accounting information flows through from beginning to end, the inventory balances, and the orders get shipped. It will also allow you to do Preventive Maintenance functions within their standard platform. This will make some parts of your job easier – your purchase orders for instance, will be mainlined inside their system, and your inventory will be included in their master inventory. On the other hand, searching inventory can be more of a challenge when mixed with other company inventory items. Also, responsibility for maintaining your specialized parts list might be assigned outside your department. Will your requirements get the attention they deserve in the overall scheme of things?
|Stand Alone CMMS||Integrated Company System|
|Faster Installation||Integrated Accounting|
|Easier to Set Up||Single Purchasing System|
|Maintenance Department Friendly||Single Inventory System|
|Dedicated Inventory Listings|
|Independent Vendor Listing|
|Special Maintenance Functionality|
|Pays for Itself|
So what is it you really need to make your maintenance operation more efficient, your company more profitable? You want a system that has all the information and tools you need, and is easy to use. Specialized items like a Preventive Maintenance wizard, equipment item copy functions, and graphical work order status lists, which are available on some CMMS systems may be missing from a typical company wide system toolbox.
The real question, then, is what are the benefits to the company from an integrated solution? There are, as I noted above, some benefits to having all the numbers in one system. With a stand alone Computerized Maintenance Management system, Equipment maintenance costs, parts and labor entries, etc., can be captured but will not automatically transfer to your accounting system. On the other hand, these items do not usually involve a lot of data entry – so is the pain worth the gain? Judging by the overwhelming number of companies that choose a stand alone system – the answer is clear.
*Company Wide Computer Systems are Frequently called an Enterprise Resource Planning System, or ERP System. They can also be referred to by their company brand name, but are basically systems that try to cover most of a company’s information processing requirements.