Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CMMS

Images of parks workers outdoors looking at a CMMS on a tablet

Maintenance management software is an investment to improve operations for your agency. You want to ensure you're getting the best option for your money.

The implementation process is a crucial step while transitioning to a CMMS. If the implementation doesn’t go well, you may be paying for software that no one uses--and you’ll probably have to answer some tough questions next time budget meetings come around.

The good news: Choosing the most appropriate software that offers support during implementation can help make that transition go smoothly--and the ROI quickly becomes evident. 

How can you ensure you’re making the right CMMS choice? The answer goes beyond looking at features and pricing structures. 

In this article, learn what to consider before purchasing software, during implementation, and as your agency evolves. 

Before Purchasing Software

It’s no secret: Plenty of maintenance management software solutions are available. As a parks and recreation agency, you want to be confident the software fits your workflow and goals. 

Before deciding on a CMMS, here are some things to consider.

About Your Agency


What Issues Do I Hope to Resolve with a CMMS?

A CMMS is an opportunity to optimize your maintenance department’s workflow. Having clear goals about what the software can help you achieve opens the door to the decision-making process.

Start by identifying some of your maintenance team’s struggles. Some pain points can include:

  • Poor filing system/records retrieval
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Missed preventative maintenance and inspections
  • Lack of a maintenance plan
  • Lack of staff accountability
  • No way to track assets and equipment

But remember, simply purchasing a CMMS won’t magically solve those problems. The software is a tool to help address pain points. 

Unfocused implementation can lead to more confusion and difficulty with staff buy-in. Clear goals that benefit the maintenance team and agency allow the software to be a catalyst for positive change. 

For example, you want a more standardized work order system where everyone makes requests in the same spot--not through emails, calls, sticky notes, or stopping you in the hallway. 

Once the system gets set up, you require everyone to request work through the CMMS. If it’s not documented in the system, it’s not getting done.

Soon, even the more stubborn staff will realize what they need to do to get work completed. Everyone follows the same process, and work requests are less likely to get missed.  


What Existing Systems Can Be Incorporated into the Software?

Image of someone completing preventative maintenance after using a CMMS

Maintenance management software won’t run your department, but it will help your existing systems run more efficiently.

For example, a CMMS can incorporate a preventive maintenance schedule for all your parks and facilities. Then, when the next preventive maintenance task is due, the appropriate person gets alerted. The person completes and records the work in an easy-to-access digital file. 

Of course, if your maintenance is more reactive and addresses issues as they come, a CMMS can still help with work orders and communication. BUT…you won’t be taking full advantage (and get a better return on investment) with the software. 

Think about what systems you already have in place that software can help be more efficient. Systems like:

  • Maintenance programs
  • Mowing schedules
  • Snow removal routes
  • Playground inspection schedules
  • Facility open/closing procedures
  • Vehicle inspections and maintenance schedules

If you don’t have these systems in place, it’s an excellent idea to start developing and implementing them as you get comfortable with your new CMMS.


How Much Time Can I Dedicate to Implementation?

There are certainly some times of the year when implementing software is more manageable. Trying to set up your CMMS as the growing season begins may cause more headaches than progress.

Can you implement software when your team has some relative downtime? During those slower periods, how much time can you dedicate to learning the software, training, and troubleshooting any issues? 

But some agencies may not have that luxury. The CMMS must be purchased at a specific time in the budget cycle. If so, will the software you choose allow you to start small and build from there?

Knowing the time available to get your team up and running in the system can prevent setbacks and unreasonable time frames to adjust to the learning curve.


About the Software


Is the Software Easy to Use?

Clunky, complicated software doesn’t go over well with busy teams. And it shouldn’t. After all, maintenance staff have work to do. They don’t want to waste time clicking around on their phones or tablets trying to figure everything out.

Ultimately, you want a CMMS that allows maintenance workers to see and report their work quickly.


Does the Company that Created the Software Understand My Industry?

Several CMMS companies have a standard system they market to various industries. You may click on a page that says how they can help with parks and recreation agencies. As you research the company, they have similar marketing to manufacturing plants, factories, and warehouses. 

Explore maintenance management software companies created specifically for parks and recreation departments. You may find they offer more features you can use and less that don’t get used--that you’re still paying for.


What is the Process for Adding Essential Information into the System?

Most CMMS solutions require some setup before going live. This could include adding assets, scheduled maintenance tasks, inspections, user roles, and vehicle information.

For example, you have several parks filled with amenities and maintenance garages full of equipment you want to track with the software. How will that information get inputted into the system? Will you have to rely on your managers to add all the data?

Can you picture the looks on their faces when you tell them they’ll have to do it?

Find out the process for entering assets and other information. Having your assets set up by system experts can make it easier to organize everything, and everyone started using it. 


Will I have Support During Implementation and Beyond?

You were hired to manage a parks maintenance team, not become some kind of software guru. 

If the CMMS company is great during implementation but disappears after the process is complete, how valuable will that software be when your agency undergoes significant changes? 

For example, will you know how to modify your software if…

  • A new facility gets built?
  • You get 5 new pickups on your fleet (and retire two old ones)?
  • The organizational structure of your parks operations team changes?
  • A new playground inspection is required by risk management?

And let’s face it: even user-friendly software has a learning curve. Do you feel confident a new manager onboarding can understand how to modify the software while handling all the other duties?

Save yourself some headaches. Find out what kind of ongoing support the CMMS offers before purchasing.  


The Takeaway

Choosing the best CMMS for your parks and recreation agency is no small task. The first step is addressing some key questions about your agency and the software. 

If you find those answers satisfactory, then you have made the first important steps in helping your maintenance department run more efficiently with software.