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The market is crowded with a variety of software all purported to offer a top of the range maintenance solution – but not all of them have the same level of functionality. Understanding the difference between an Enterprise Asset Management System (EAM) and a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS) solution will help you identify which asset management system will meet your business requirements.


What is a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS)?

CMMS’ date back to the 1960s as technology which managed work orders with punch cards rather than paper and filing cabinets. As the software evolved, so did its functionality, and most CMMS’ now offer preventative maintenance, asset and inventory management and mobile functionality. More inclusive systems may have additional features including project management and multi-site support, however, despite the increased capabilities, they are still only designed to be maintenance management systems.

They are dedicated tools designed to manage maintenance operations, not to service the asset management needs of the whole company. They often have a smaller price tag than the bigger EAM systems, and are ideal for companies looking to manage work orders, spare parts and equipment records in a simple way.


What is an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) System?

EAM systems came on to the scene when network technology gave computers the ability to connect with each other. They are unified platforms created to manage all physical assets across the enterprise. EAM software includes maintenance management capabilities, but they also consider the wider total cost of ownership (TCO) for the physical assets across the company. EAM systems offer a holistic approach to asset management, allowing you to track the entire asset lifecycle through to audit trails, safety and compliance and even business intelligence. EAM software can also be used to evaluate risk, and are used in environments where asset failure has the potential to result in safety breaches or environmental impacts.

The benefits of using a single system to collect all this data is that all users have access to the same real-time information, and access restrictions can be set up to ensure only relevant data is shared. As EAM systems have evolved, so too have their integration capabilities – and the modern EAM can integrate with a variety of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), Building Automation Systems (BAS), Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Business Intelligence (BI) systems.

An EAM solution has the ability to deliver the core requirements for asset management as laid out in the ISO 55000 standards, and with more companies choosing to become ISO compliant, it makes sense that asset-intensive industries are choosing EAM over CMMS. While ISO 55000 does not specifically reference the type of software essential to comply, the standard is demanding, and recommends you house all asset data from design to decommissioning within the same system.

Traditionally these systems have been used in asset-intensive industries, but with the rise of software-as-a-service (SaaS) offerings, they have become the product of choice for many organisations wanting to optimise performance and minimise costs.

So, what’s the difference, and which one is right for me?

Both systems are designed to reduce maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) costs and maximise the value of your assets.

The key differentiator is scope – CMMS focuses specifically on maintenance, while EAM systems take a more holistic approach, encompassing multiple business functions. EAM systems track the entirety of the asset lifecycle, while CMMS only tracks the operational life of the asset. EAM systems offer a broad, powerful way to manage many facets of the business, treating asset management as a strategic company-wide initiative. While there may be crossover with functionality, ultimately they are two different types of software, with two different approaches to asset management.

For large organisations, EAM systems are the obvious choice. But for smaller businesses the question should be focused on growth and scalability. If you are planning to add sites, or to expand your operations then selecting an EAM system will enable seamless growth. For smaller operations who only have a requirement to manage their maintenance systems, then CMMS may be the right choice.

If you want to take an enterprise-level approach to asset management, and consider not only TCO, but the overall life cycle of the asset, then EAM is the solution for you. With all the business functions working together in one unified system, you have the ability to optimise performance across your entire organisation.

Once you understand the difference between the software it becomes easier to know what you’re looking for. Knowing what your organisations aspirations are, and which maintenance KPI’s you need to meet, will enable you to make the right choice.

Contact us to learn more about EAM.

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