You Get What You Pay For: Evaluating CMMS Beyond Cost

5 minutes

In today’s dynamic business landscape, organizations rely on Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) to streamline maintenance process’, help maintainers maximize asset performance, and ensure regulatory compliance. With over 400 CMMS solutions available – and more flooding the market every year - you might be asking “Why so many?” and “How do I know which is right for me?” 

Let’s start with why so many. As Paul Lachance said during a recent CMMSradio episode, 

With the cloud and development tools of today, it's just so easy to create decent software.

We’re now at the point where creating software is so easy that every year a handful of new vendors come out of nowhere and do just that. And they always come in as the newer, cheaper solution on the block. 

So how do you know which is best for your organization? Well, that depends. Let’s explore three common points that can help you decide: 

The “Needs” - Core Functionality and Features 

To be considered a 'CMMS' your product must at least include three key features:  

  1. Locations & Asset Tracking 
  2. Work Order Management 
  3. Inventory 

That's a surprisingly low bar, I know. Historically, these have been homegrown solutions, yet they are now becoming digitized via mobile-first, inexpensive, entry-level CMMS’.  

Which has their place, if all you need are the basics. To digitize your processes and workflows at the lowest price point. These simple solutions will work for you. Think of it like a vehicle, if all you need is something to get from point A to point B, cheap and simple works.  

But, if this is only step 1 of your growth plan, you are putting yourself in a bad spot. I see it all the time. “We chose it because: it did what we needed, at the time, and for cheap.” Now they must migrate from that system to another that can handle things they knew they wanted to grow into all along -- features like implementing usage-based preventive work orders, managing asset lifecycles, and determining total cost of ownership, and analytics to implement continuous improvement.

Long-Term Costs vs. Short-Term Savings  

Don’t be fooled by the low-price points of the entry tier. When you have multi-site use cases, need workflow automation, or self-service access to your data, these entry level options become very costly, very quickly.  

Once you add new features, or industry-specific product capabilities, your needs push you out of the basics, into a higher, more expensive tier. It’s like they say – buy cheap, buy twice.  

While it’s easy to focus on costs in the short-term, don’t be so short-sighted that you handcuff yourself and sacrifice the functionality you know you will need in a year or two. Most organizations don’t implement a CMMS into their process to simply track work orders. They implement it to connect those work orders to assets and parts, which can populate downtime and cost reports.

Think bigger picture: Where do you want to be in three years? What are your organization’s long-term mission and vision? Understanding your future needs, and weighing considerations, are aspects you need to evaluate before product demos, and well before implementation, so you don’t end up paying more in the long run.  

In the end, the real question to ask here is: “Do I want to do this all over again next year?”. Or better yet: “Will my CMMS provider even still be around in a year from now?” That leads me to the third and final point. 

Vendor Reliability

So you’ve answered the above questions. You’ve trimmed the applicable vendor list down to a few options with similar capabilities. How do you choose between them, other than price alone?  

This is a question that isn’t talked about enough. The product itself is one piece of the equation, but the vendor -- you know the one that offers and maintains the product – is, in my opinion, a bigger piece to consider.  

  • Can you trust this vendor?  
  • Is there social proof that they do what they say?
  • Will this company be around for a while or are they at the mercy of their next funding round?

If new vendors enter the space every year, naturally a handful leave. Choosing a CMMS vendor to partner with shouldn’t be a high stakes gamble. You don’t reap the rewards if that vendor’s founders hit blackjack. Not playing the safe bet is how people come to resent CMMS’.  


Many factors should go into selecting the right CMMS. While choosing a cheaper solution, or sticking with your current legacy or homegrown system, might seem like the right financial decision in the short-term, it may end up costing you more in the long run. More robust CMMS solutions offer increased functionality and additional capabilities to empower YOU to increase your productivity, improve efficiency, and reduce asset downtime.  

To repeat, I am not telling you that cheaper isn’t the right fit for you. More so, I have seen far too many businesses sacrifice needs, for wants (cost). I have been there, having been the Maintenance Leader and running point on my last company’s selection process for a CMMS. I was pressured to make the cost-centric choice but chose to consider short- and long-term functionality needs, while also putting a premium on trust with my potential vendor.  

I trusted Brightly. They delivered everything they said they would. Which is why when I decided to make a career change, I chose to work for them.  

At the end of the day, prioritize long-term value, reliability, and total cost-effectiveness. There is a right-fit vendor and product out there for everyone! Do some self-reflection and index these 3 factors by your priorities. This will help you weed out non-fit solutions and help you take more control over the selection process.

Or not, and we shall see you again next year 😉