What is a CMMS and do you need one?

A CMMS, or Computerised Maintenance Management System to give its full name is maintenance software for managing assets, work orders, inventory, preventive maintenance, reactive maintenance tickets and more.
What is a CMMS and do you need one?
Written by
Darren Stewart
Published on
September 1, 2023

A CMMS, or Computerised Maintenance Management System to give its full name is maintenance software for managing assets, work orders, inventory, preventive maintenance, reactive maintenance tickets and more.

Typically maintenance teams use CMMS software to track their maintenance schedule, tasks and overall property and asset health. This makes a CMMS ideal for managing estates and properties that are in constant use and essential to the business.

Implementing a CMMS typically improves overall efficiency, productivity and speed of maintenance tasks and subsequently leads to a reduction in maintenance costs, an improved environment and a better business.

Similar terms to CMMS

A CMMS is often used as a catch-all phrase to describe a number of different types of software used in maintenance management. Really, the use of the word computerised is quite ‘old-school’ and comes from an age where computers were a bit newer but the acronym stuck so here we are! 

CMMS is an industry term which means you only know what it means if you are in the industry so you can be forgiven if you have never heard of it. Here are some examples of similar terms that can mean the same thing as a CMMS really:

Why companies buy CMMS software

Companies purchase CMMS or other types of maintenance software typically because they cannot manage all of their maintenance tasks with pen and paper or a spreadsheet.

If you manage one small property, like your home, you will probably be able to keep track of any maintenance issues using a notepad or a simple spreadsheet or to-do list. But what about if you manage multiple buildings, with multiple items (assets) inside of them that are all of your responsibility. That can be difficult to do, and at a certain point in time a spreadsheet just becomes unruly and difficult to manage.

This is when a company will look to invest in a maintenance management system or CMMS. These types of systems essentially act as a digital maintenance ticketing system that centralises all of your maintenance tasks in one place.

Often buyers may not be aware that such systems exist and they may just stumble across them, especially if their background is not in facilities management or maintenance management and the most natural thing to do is to Google “maintenance checklist template” or something like that.

A digital maintenance system however can do all of these things for you without you having to reinvent the wheel and build your system. A company will typically invest in a CMMS when the pain or problem of managing spreadsheets becomes too time consuming and the business starts to suffer in one way or another.


CAFM and CMMS are kind of interchangeable terms, depending on who you ask they may give you a different response to which is which. From our perspective a CAFM tool is more focused towards buildings and facilities management with additional functionality such as room reservations and administrative tasks, whereas a CMMS is usually solely focused on maintenance management.

There are lots of tools out there that claim to do both CAFM and CMMS and usually there are lots of overlap so it’s worth delving into the features of all of these to figure out what it is you actually need.

Features of a CMMS

Most CMMS systems will have similar features, hence why they will all call themselves a CMMS. When choosing a CMMS you are more likely to make a final decision based on which software fits your needs best, the costs and ease of use.

A lot of time when implementing a new piece of software it is not really as simple as buying it and the problem is solved. Once you have purchased the software you then need to embark on getting your staff enrolled into it and perhaps the hardest part, using it.

Some of the most typical features of a CMMS include:

  • Asset management
  • Work order management
  • Preventive maintenance
  • Spare parts inventory management
  • Reporting
  • Work request portal
  • User-friendly mobile app
  • QR code deployment

How QR codes help with maintenance management

One of the most important and useful features of deploying a CMMS system is the ability to create and deploy QR tags/codes across multiple locations and assets.

Most maintenance management systems will have a feature that allows users to create QR codes that can be assigned to a building, location or an asset. What this means is that using a fault reporting app a user can scan the QR code before reporting a fault or conducting a scheduled maintenance task means it can be automatically assigned to the correct building, location and asset.

Implementing a CMMS

Many companies will buy a maintenance management system with the best intentions but might fail when trying to implement it across multiple locations and sites. This can be because of simple things such as geographical restrictions and being able to visit the site to show people or more often than not ensuring staff members start using the software rather than the old paper-based system.

The systems that succeed in implementation are often those that are easiest to use and are intuitive too. If a CMMS is too complex, out-dated and difficult to understand it is very difficult to onboard new users into the system.

Beyond Maintenance Ticketing Systems

A CMMS goes beyond a maintenance ticketing system. A simple maintenance ticketing systems purpose is to provide a central view of all ‘tickets’ raised by individuals or customers. A building maintenance ticketing system does exactly that but in relation to maintenance tasks or tickets. For example if the toilet breaks, you would raise the ticket and provide some information.

This would then go into a central ticketing system so that the person controlling the maintenance operations would be able to then assign that ticket to a member of the maintenance team or a third party contractor.

Often building managers are not using a digital ticketing system and they are recording maintenance issues manually or relying on tenants to call them to raise an issue. However, a maintenance ticketing system like FaultFixers enables tenants or “reporters” as we call them to raise tickets from their mobile phone. 

They can simply take a photo of the issue, write some notes and then send it through enabling faults to be reported in minutes and the maintenance manager to get an oversight very quickly of everything that is going on.

Maintenance log templates & Spreadsheets

Maintenance log templates and spreadsheets are the original way that a lot of maintenance tasks were recorded. As you can imagine the world of maintenance is very hands-on and people do not spend much time sitting around a computer, however the technology has progressed to a point where you can get maintenance templates on your mobile device and record maintenance issues on-site, allowing you to ditch the paper logbooks and records and save time actually fixing things rather than trying to write something down or find an old record of the maintenance tasks done on a specific ‘asset or location’.

CMMS Industry Use Cases

Maintenance is maintenance. At the end of the day, things need to be maintained, whether it is in a hospital or a football stadium, a toilet is still a toilet and a light fitting is a light fitting. Beyond the obvious differences in environments there are endless use cases for a maintenance management system, and the system doesn’t necessarily need to be built specifically for one industry.

Reporting a maintenance issue should be quick and easy no matter what environment you are in. Below we have outlined some examples of where maintenance management systems such as a CMMS or a Maintenance Ticketing System can be used to help improve the environment and help make better businesses and better environments for tenants and customers.

The companies and industries that benefit the most from a CMMS are those that properties are part of their services or where their services occur.

Snagging List for a New Build

Although not typically designed for this purpose, maintenance ticketing software can effectively act as a digital snagging list for a builder or client to manage snagging issues for a new build or multiple buildings. 

A builder can invest in a tool like FaultFixers that allows them to add multiple buildings into the system, let's say they have 20 projects on-going. They may want to raise snagging issues with each of those buildings after the job is completed. 

FaultFixers can allow tenants, foreman or project managers to take pictures of issues ons-site and have them logged directly into the software so it can be viewed from the head-office without lots of back and forth and have them assigned to the correct location and building automatically. You can even deploy simple QR codes by printing them off and sticking them up, that when scanned using a mobile phones camera will automatically log the ticket against that specific location, you can deploy QR codes for whole buildings or even by rooms and even assets, such as boilers.

A maintenance management system can also be used for basic job management, you can add all of your contractors and tradespeople into the software and assign the tickets at certain locations. These tickets do not need to be ‘maintenance’ as such, it could be - plastering in Room 2 at Location A. 

Snagging Survey Templates

Beyond just reporting faults you can build your own digital checklists and forms so that you ensure people perform the same checks every time. This could be useful when performing a standard snagging survey in a new property. 

Let's say you work in a property development company and you want to make sure the same survey checks are conducted every time without fail. You can build snagging survey forms and checklists that anyone can run through when they are on site. You can then save that form and keep a digital record of its completion to show when it is completed and who did so you have a complete audit trail.

Fleet Management Maintenance

A fleet is usually used to describe a group of vehicles owned by a company. For example, “a fleet of taxis” or “a fleet of trucks”. Keeping a fleet running while upholding a high standard of safety and minimal maintenance expenses may be difficult. 

Keeping a fleet of trucks or taxis in service can be business critical for a company that relies on these vehicles for jobs they have to complete to get paid. Ensuring the fleet is maintained correctly is imperative to a successful business in this scenario.

Using some sort of fleet management software or maintenance system to monitor preventative and corrective maintenance tasks can help keep your fleet running and on the road so your business can operate at its maximum capacity.

Really a fleet is just a group of assets so fleet management has many similarities within asset management and in a lot of respects it is the same thing.

Data Center Maintenance

Most software is now hosted in the “cloud” which ironically is usually running from a physical data centre somewhere. These data centres can be huge, like this one in Seattle which comprises over a million square feet of space! 

The most important factor for data centres is uptime. Response times and customer satisfaction suffer when breakdowns happen. When Facebook or Twitter go down it can be because of a problem in the data centre. 

To guarantee maximum performance and reduce this downtime, mission-critical assets, including servers, communication lines, and backup generators must be adequately maintained. This means conducting regular preventive maintenance checks on server equipment.

Reactive maintenance is not something that you want to be doing a lot of when it comes to Data Centres, mainly because there are legal requirements for a certain amount of uptime.

Airport Maintenance Management

Airports usually include multiple large areas, several buildings, and a variety of equipment that has to be maintained, including HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, for the comfort and safety of passengers as well as conveyor belts. 

Forgetting the planes themselves, what about the facilities that house all of the passengers including the public restrooms, seating areas etc? Airports are busy places with thousands of passengers passing through them everyday. 

An airport requires a system such as a CMMS to ensure they can keep on top of all of the preventative and reactive maintenance tasks they need to keep on top of.

The Food and Beverage Industry

Processing food and beverages is a highly regulated sector with strict health and safety regulations. Using something like a CMMS to keep on top of maintenance tasks can help 

A CMMS is used to lessen wastage and the likelihood of product recalls, as well as to assure the sanitation, safety, and traceability of food and beverage goods. The organisation can maintain or increase production levels and, consequently increase revenues by performing effective food processing plant maintenance.

CMMS for Hotels

A great example of a good use-case for a CMMS is a hotel, or even better a group of hotels. By definition a hotel is a place where someone stays in a comfortable environment where you expect everything to be well-maintained. Therefore it is essentially that the rooms and shared spaces in a hotel are kept to a high standard.

If a hotel room is dirty or there are things within the room that are broken such as the toilet, shower or light-switch, customers will complain and your business will suffer as a result. Implementing a simple maintenance management system that can cost a couple of hundred pounds/dollars a month can save you thousands of dollars and even help you generate more revenue because you are providing a great service that results in great reviews and more people staying in your hotel.

If you are working in/with a hotel in the maintenance department you must look at investing in some form of simple maintenance ticketing system if you haven’t already.

CMMS for the Healthcare Industry

Using a CMMS in hospitals simplifies the maintenance of important assets and equipment. Patient safety and successful results are top priorities in hospitals and healthcare institutions. 

Defibrillators, patient monitors, ECG machines, computers, electrical equipment, sterilisers, surgical lights, surgical units, and many other pieces of crucial machinery are used in these kinds of facilities. 

Along with the important medical equipment there are the standard communal waiting areas within Hospitals and assets such as wheelchairs, trolleys and hoists that all require mechanical maintenance. 

Implementing a digital maintenance system enables staff to get oversight of everything that is going on across the hospital estate and maintain excellent levels of safety and compliance.

Maintenance for Care Homes

Care homes are a very important part of society. They look after our relatives when they can no-longer look after themselves. Like any care facility a care home is required to maintain a strict level of compliance in order to ensure the safety of its residents.

This also includes the maintenance of the care home. Many care home providers operate multiple homes in different locations and have to maintain lots of different types of equipment across these locations, such as bed hoists, wheelchairs and alike.

Keeping a care home in good working order and well maintained improves the quality of service and quality of life. Things that may seem simple like keeping lighting in good condition can make a huge difference to the feeling and perception of a space. Imagine if everything in your home kept breaking down, it wouldn't feel like a great place to live. This is why preventative maintenance management is so important in settings such as care homes.

School Maintenance Management

Schools and educational facilities often use systems like a CMMS. A school, especially a university can be a large estate of properties that need a lot of maintenance. Having a digital centralised record of all maintenance tasks is essential when trying to maintain a school or university of any size, from broken doors to fire alarm checks.

Keeping on top of maintenance tasks within an educational institution is imperative for the health and safety of the students and staff. Trying to keep a record using spreadsheets and logbooks is not sustainable for most schools and only increases the time it takes to spot faults and then in turn get them repaired.

Sports facilities, leisure centres & clubs

Think of all of the areas of an 80,000 seater sports stadium that require maintenance. It could be a broken seat from a fan celebration gone wrong or the communal walkways, toilets and turnstiles. There is a lot to maintain, that isn’t even thinking about matchday things like the pitch, goalposts and nets that require regular maintenance and checks.

Football, rugby and American football clubs are prime users of systems like a CMMS or a similar maintenance system because they have so much to keep on top of. Then there are the training facilities, these are often in more frequent use and require even more regular maintenance than the stadiums/arenas themselves.

Retail Industry

The retail industry is in a perpetual race to deliver exceptional client experiences, where even the slightest misstep can cost a company dearly. In this fiercely competitive landscape, the ultimate objective for every retail firm is to delight their customers. A single misfire in the company's interactions and overall customer journey can lead to colossal setbacks. Hence, every retail establishment must relentlessly uphold a distinct standard of excellence to meet the soaring expectations of their valued clients.

This means ensuring the retail environment is engaging and maintained to the highest standard. A broken mirror here and a faulty clothes rail there can seem small and insignificant but it all contributes to the experience the customer has with the brand. Ensuring the space in your retail stores is well maintained is key to the success of your business.

Office Space & Co-working

An area that has become more popular recently is the rise of coworking spaces. These are shared office spaces between multiple companies such as digital marketing agencies that allow for a more flexible approach to work and don’t tie companies down to having to lease a whole building or a large office space when it might be a risk.

Companies such as WeWork have thousands of offices around the world that allow small companies to rent office space. The success of companies like WeWork and others such as Spaces is down to the environment they create for their tenants.

Having a CMMS or maintenance management system helps the facilities managers stay on top of their maintenance tasks to ensure that tenants are happy with the quality of space they are paying for. The best maintained office spaces will often be the most sought after and therefore attract the most business.


In summary, a CMMS System not only improves the day-to-day lives of your maintenance team, it can improve the health of your business. By improving the environment your employees, tenants and customers occupy you inevitably improve their experience and your business.

It may seem only a small thing to keep on top of fixing minor issues but it’s important to maintain a high level of safety and security within any environment.

If you’ve read this article and you can see some of the benefits we have talked about above but have yet to implement a CMMS or equivalent then you can always embark on a free trial of something like FaultFixers which is a simple and easy to use maintenance management application already used by thousands of people to keep their estates and assets in a better condition.

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