Enterprises that are seeking to optimize their core operations often run into a dilemma on how to exactly manage their considerable assets. Is using ERP by modifying one of the existing modules enough or should they look for specific software solutions like computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) that are designed to help you efficiently manage and maintain your assets?
The situation becomes all the more precarious upon considering the fact that both solutions – CMMS and ERP – have a fair bit of similarities as both come with features that control important business processes.
However, both also come with their own set of differences and limitations. Understanding these differences is the key to making the right asset management decision.
The Basics of CMMS
Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is software that is used to track and maintain assets and resources in an organization’s maintenance unit. It allows its users to monitor and record any and all maintenance work, while simultaneously keeping a historical record of work that has been done and tracking critical asset information for future reference.
The Basics of ERP
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is a software package that manages every aspect of an organization’s business processes. It’s a system of integrated applications that work together to manage and automate several operations including CRM, human resources, accounting and financials, manufacturing, inventory, procurement, project management and so on.
In the context of this discussion, we will look at the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) module.
The Relationship Between CMMS and ERP
By looking at the above descriptions, there appears to be a relationship between CMMS and ERP as some of the similarities are already evident.
Both software solutions claim that they can help you manage your assets which means that they must have functions that overlap.
In regards to asset management, an organization may well choose to use the Enterprise Asset Management module (EAM) within ERP for maintenance as this will allow them access to some of the components typically found in a stand-alone CMMS solution. For example, one such component is the inventory and parts management function that CMMS comes with. In its own case, ERP calls it materials management and parts procurement module.
Is One Solution Undeniably Better Than the Other One?
There are several pros and cons to consider when deciding which solution better fits your needs. We tried to highlight the most important ones.
Using a stand-alone CMMS
- One of the major strengths of a CMMS is that it’s a proactive and dedicated asset management tool. It can manage all reactive and preventive maintenance activities.
- Most CMMS solutions also offer advanced inventory management features, ensuring that all spare parts and stock items are available for repairs and servicing.
- Running costs are lower and it offers quicker ROI through improved efficiency, decreased asset downtime, and increased asset life expectancy.
- Modern CMMS are easy to deploy and technicians can pick them up rather quickly.
- They save all critical asset information and allow you to use advanced reporting features to improve your asset management decisions.
- Modern CMMS have APIs that allow ERP systems to pull data from the CMMS, but the setup is required and require IT skills to accomplish
- By definition and design, CMMS is focused only on maintenance.
- If the CMMS doesn’t have an integration and isn’t able to work alongside other ERP modules, the information flow from the maintenance to another department will be obstructed which is just inefficient.
Using an EAM module
- Multiple functions that are applicable to several different business processes.
- Allows for fast data exchange and data utilization on the level of the whole organization
- It is generally faster to integrate an EAM module than CMMS (unless the module needs heavy modifications to fit your organization)
- It offers some of the functions that can be found in CMMS which, in some situations, can be a worthy replacement.
- ERP often fall short in ease of use and quick implementation when attempting to use it for the top of the line maintenance management.
- In some cases, there would be a need for thorough and expensive customization processes to adapt the ERP’s EAM modules to manage critical functions that the maintenance unit cannot do without.
Integrating Both Solutions for Asset Management
As the EAM module and CMMS cover the same area, you probably won’t look to use both solutions at the same time.
On the other hand, using CMMS in isolation of ERP may not allow asset managers to reap the full potentials of either software. Integration enables both software to share important information. For example, you can generate purchase orders in your CMMS and just forward them to ERP as a purchase request. On top of that, the data about quantities and cost information should automatically sync up which makes inventory ordering a breeze.
When would integrating CMMS into ERP work better than just adding an EAM module?
In general, if the EAM module you have at your disposal has to be drastically modified to fit your organization, want an easier to use maintenance software or if you want to have deep insight into historical maintenance data and be able to monitor your maintenance operations in great detail, then CMMS is probably the better option for you.
However, when it is all said and done, this is something that only you can answer as it needs to be decided on a case by case basis.