Change Management & CMMS, Part II

Maintenance managers that make the leap to CMMS without considering how to help stakeholders adapt, are likely to end up with a frustrated maintenance department, resistant employee requestors, and a shiny new system that languishes “on the shelf.”

The maintenance department of one specialty grocery chain learned this the hard way. The department had reached the boiling point of maintenance dystopia. There was no paper work, no formal way of keeping track of what was done and how much was spent on equipment maintenance, and, therefore, no paper trails.  And the maintenance decree? “Keep it up no matter what it costs, and fix it fast!” That policy cost the company more than $200,000 a year on equipment repairs for its four stores – without knowing which equipment brands were more reliable.


To get control of spending, the grocer decided to install a CMMS to manage 400 assets across the four stores. Both construction and facilities managers were involved in the decision, and in the end, all agreed to make the switch. Maintenance for every piece of equipment, from life safety equipment, sprinkler systems and security alarms to pizza ovens, baking mixers, and juicers would be automated by the CMMS.

But even after painstakingly entering equipment information and getting the system up and running and creating separate preventive maintenance for each store, employees still called maintenance and expected quick turnarounds. According to the maintenance manager, “They still wanted to do things the old way – ‘just tell someone who’s walking to lunch to fix the problem.’  It’s still a work in progress.”

The Metamorphosis

Besides getting maintenance team members on board, you should also consider what it will take to enact behavioral changes for employees who request maintenance services. Any change will take people out of their comfort zone, which is the biggest hurdle to success according to a change management expert. Each person will “ascend the change curve” at different rates and times, and have a reason not to adapt until the change is “institutionalized.” Until you understand their concerns, people will never move up the curve and the change will not be successful.


While it may seem obvious, change does not typically occur instantly within organizations – regardless of size. Exercises in patience and encouragement are vital to keep teams on track and spirits high.

Communication cannot be overstated and people respond to different forms of communication. One method will not work for everyone. Maintenance should clearly communicate the change, including the time frame and the impact it will have on all stakeholders. Let them know ‘what’s in it for me,’ and identify a team champion who can help his or her team members understand the benefits of the new initiative.

In order to get the stage set for a successful change in attitude and cooperation and adaptation to CMMS, keep these points in mind:

  1. Demonstrate flexible communications to show why the change is necessary and what the benefits are for the people making the change,
  2. Exercise patience to face the resistance that may come up along the way, and for the backsliding, even if everyone agrees “on paper,” and
  3. Be generous with encouragement as progress is being made.

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