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January 8, 2014

| 3 min read

Two important CMMS setup questions: answered

There are two questions I am frequently asked when talking with new customers who are in the process of setting up their first CMMS. They ask: “what assets should I include in my CMMS?” which is quickly followed by “How should I arrange the asset tree?”

Unfortunately, individual circumstances are very important when giving advise on these questions and the answers often begin with “It depends…”. Let us look at the things you should think about when trying to work out which assets you should include in your CMMS.

What assets should you include in your CMMS?

There are two main considerations that will help you determine which assets to include in your CMMS.

  • First, your CMMS should be functional: for you, your staff and your guest requestors.
  • Second, you should be able to extract meaningful data from your CMMS

Your CMMS should be functional

Optimum functionality occurs when your CMMS has enough assets that your users can quickly select the correct asset, without being overwhelmed with detail.

For example, in a school, it would be wise to include in the CMMS an asset “lighting system” in each classroom, in this scenario a user could easily select the lighting system in Classroom A001 and direct a technician to replace the bulb. Conversely, it would be unwise to include every light bulb in every classroom, because a user would find it very difficult to say if it is light number 4 or number 5 in Classroom A001 that has blown. In any case, the technician will attend the classroom and then look for the broken light to fix. Too much detail is meaningless when it comes to the practical aspects of doing maintenance.

Choose a level of asset detail that helps, and does not hinder the people using the CMMS.

Can you extract meaningful data from your CMMS?

If you want to extract meaningful data from your CMMS you must have enough detail in the assets that you include. Without this detail, you will never be able to identify the types of assets on which you are spending too much.

Returning to the school example, the individual classrooms should not be most detailed asset in the CMMS. It is wise to have the lighting system for each classroom included in the CMMS, as well as the air-conditioning and heating systems. With this setup it will be easy to differentiate the maintenance money spent on lighting, air-conditioning and heating systems across the whole school.

In summary, you should make the assets detailed enough that you can examine costs, but not too detailed that a generally intelligent user cannot easily choose the correct asset from a list.

How should I arrange my asset tree?

An asset tree is the system by which your assets are arranged in your CMMS. For example, I have setup a CMMS for my house. In the asset tree for my house, the ‘Fridge’ is a child asset of the ‘kitchen’ and the ’kitchen’ is, itself, a child asset of the ‘My house’.

Asset tree for a house

You should setup your asset tree in such a way that it is easy for the people who do maintenance to find the asset. When thinking about this, consider how you would describe where to find the asset if you were talking on the phone. You would probably say “The fridge in the kitchen has stopped working”. This makes it clear you are not talking about the beer fridge in the outside garage. If your facility is going to have more than one asset of the same type it also helps to have an asset naming convention so there is no ambiguity about which asset is being refered to.

In short, you should arrange your asset tree so things can be easily found.

The system described above is fine for items that are stationary, but what about assets like vehicles or welding trolleys that are mobile and found in different locations at different times? You should again ask yourself “how would I describe this over the phone?” Using this approach you will probably find a nice way of collecting together your assets in the tree. For example, your asset tree might group all of your vehicles together as child assets of “Mobile Fleet”, and your welding trolley might be grouped under “Mobile workshop tools”. Importantly, the users of your system should be able to find the asset they want quickly and logically.

How many assets should I include in my asset tree?

We have done some analysis of the number of assets included in the asset tree of companies who have successfully implemented our CMMS. We defined a successful company as one who are still using their CMMS more than 2 months after first purchasing it and have not stopped using it. The results are shown below. It is very clear that a company with more than 25 Assets per user have more success with their CMMS implementation than one with 25 assets per user or less. Quickly adding 25 or more assets is a great way to make sure your CMMS gets started the right way.


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