The Problem with Informal or Inefficient Asset Management Practices

Pitfall 5

This is the sixth post in our blog series, 9 Reasons EAM Implementations Fail (And How to Fix Them).

Practices, processes, and procedures are critical to the success of your EAM or CMMS software implementation. They’re the way you operate: the “how” in how you do things.

I’m not talking about software-focused standard operating procedures (SOPs) with step-by-step screenshots. I’m talking about documented, application-agnostic processes for tasks such as work identification, planning, and scheduling; failure analysis; cycle counting; spend analysis; and so on.

Work Management
An overview of the process for managing maintenance work. This sample comes from SynergyTM, an EAM accelerator pack from SwainSmith that includes process templates for maintenance, MRO storerooms, and procurement.

It doesn’t matter how great your EAM software system is. Undocumented or poorly thought-out practices will cripple your enterprise asset management efforts.

How Documented Processes Support EAM and CMMS Software

Let’s say that you’ve developed a detailed set of failure codes so that you can track the most common causes of equipment failure. If you don’t have a standard, efficient, documented process for work completion that includes a consistent procedure for entering failure codes on work orders, then not every work order will have properly assigned failure codes, and the report that your EAM software generates won’t be accurate. Even if the failure codes are keyed in properly, it won’t do you any good unless you have a process for reporting and acting on failure data.

The same principle applies to every area of asset management: maintenance, MRO storerooms, procurement, and more. Can you physically point to your process? Is it based on industry-accepted best practices? If not, you have a problem. You can have the best EAM software in the world, but if you don’t have good documented practices in place for how you do things, the software won’t produce the information you need.

Facing the Documentation Challenge

Despite the importance of asset management practices to EAM information outputs, many organizations still struggle in this area. A recent survey of asset-intensive companies revealed that, in more than one third of the companies questioned, less than 40 percent of asset events were recorded in the asset management information system.

Document Challenges
Percentage of asset events captured in the EAM/CMMS system. Based on a 2013 survey of European companies from 23 different industries.

The percentage above is directly tied to the quality and execution of asset management practices. To properly capture asset-related events in the EAM/CMMS system, you need standard processes for asset management that are executed consistently across the enterprise. And to implement standard processes, you need documentation.

It’s understandable why this area is a struggle. Documentation is hard. You have to put a team together to identify best practices and write down how each EAM activity should be performed. Many businesses lack the resources or the expertise to do this.

But documentation, however painful, is a necessary evil. The only way to ensure that processes are executed consistently is to write them down. They must be formalized; they can’t exist only by word of mouth. When a process exists only in the minds of your personnel, everyone is going to have a different idea as to what the process is.

If your process isn’t documented—if you have to ask someone to find out how things are done—then you don’t have a process.

Developing Standard Practices for Enterprise Asset Management

We’ve established that you need documented practices, processes, and procedures if you want to get ROI from your EAM or CMMS system. Now, let’s talk about some of the practical aspects of documentation.

In general, your asset management practices should be

  • designed according to best practices (not what the software can or can’t do);
  • based on industry-accepted and proven standards;
  • optimized to suit the needs of your operation; and
  • centralized to establish a common point of reference across the enterprise.

Each piece of documentation that you develop should answer the following questions:

  • What is the practice—its definition?
  • Who is involved in executing it—what role, what function?
  • Where does the process take place—the location?
  • When does it take place—the timing or trigger event?
  • Why do we execute it—its purpose?
  • How does it happen—the procedure?

It takes work. This is where documentation templates can be a big help.

Using Documentation Templates to Expedite the Process

Documentation is already hard enough. Developing processes and procedures from scratch just makes it harder. Yet many organizations are determined to reinvent the wheel.

Why not start with practices that have been proven by long experience in the field and are accepted as best practices by international experts? Why not start with a rock-solid foundation of tried and proven practices and then tailor them to fit the unique qualities and needs of your organization? That way you get the best of both worlds: industry standards with a custom fit.

SwainSmith offers a series of EAM accelerator packs—our SynergyTM series—that contain process templates and data libraries for maintenance, MRO storerooms, and procurement.×300.png×300.png×300.pngOur templates are based on industry-accepted best practices and 20 years of consulting experience across a wide range of industries. They are designed to give companies a quick-to-implement foundation of documented practices for asset management. Contact us at or 828-215-9471 for more information.

The next post in this series, EAM Pitfall #6: Wrong Software Configuration, will talk about configuring the EAM or CMMS software system to fit your organization’s specific needs.


EAM/CMMS Implementation Checklist

Evaluate your asset management software implementation with our self-guided EAM/CMMS Implementation Checklist. Our checklist covers all of the critical areas for EAM/CMMS success, including business process, software capabilities, master data, and performance management.