Software—Plan Ahead to Maximize CMMS Vendor Web Site Visits
Author - David
- February 21, 2004
those looking for a computer maintenance management system (CMMS) vendor, the
Web is often the first place to start. There are a number of web site features
one should examine in order to maximize web site visits.
more you feel warm and fuzzy about a company through its web site, the more
likely you're going to explore it further. Unfortunately, not all computer maintenance
management system (CMMS) vendor web sites are the same. The first potential
turn-off is home page response times. If it takes longer than a few seconds
to get something on screen, users get anxious. That's why most sites bring up
at least a title, framework, and some basic text followed by the progressive
filling of empty spaces with buttons, graphics, and further text. The entire
process should take only under a minute. Once the entire screen has materialized,
users can explore the numerous links. Some sites will show sub-categories as
you move the cursor over the main headings.
One interesting feature that has become quite popular on CMMS web sites is a ticker-tape window that provides eye-catching news, such as a recent strategic alliance, record earnings for the quarter or a new customer. By double-clicking, you can get more details on any of these items. Some web sites have click-boxes that provide full audio or video clips from a user conference or speech from a key executive. At the bottom of the opening screen, almost all web sites provide contact information and a link to the web master's email address. Here's what else to look for.
Many sites provide a roadmap or index that shows the web site hierarchy. It's a sophisticated version of a table of contents, which is accessible from any screen on the web site. By clicking the headings and subheadings on the map, you're catapulted to that particular section of text.
The section describing information about the company will often present history,
philosophy, policies, values, strategy, a general description etc.. If the CMMS
vendor is a multinational, then multiple locations are provided, including contact
information. In some cases, each country operates its own linked site. Any resellers
or distributors should also be listed. Public companies often provide their
Products and services
CMMS vendors use different approaches to present their products and services on the Internet. Some use screen shots to illustrate different features and functions, while others use text only. Many vendors offer users the option to download an electronic brochure or video clip that provides greater detail. Larger CMMS vendors offer specific information for a given vertical market, such as utilities, oil and gas or mining.
The electronic help desk gives users the ability to inquire about specific problems,
without queuing on the telephone. Usually a response is received within twenty-four
Every software company should provide information about known bugs in each version
of its software. Some CMMS vendors reduce their distribution costs by encouraging
users to download developed fixes, while others prefer handling the process
Discussion databases are handy and allows users and CMMS vendors to share tips
about getting the most out of a CMMS application and traps that should be avoided.
Tips and traps can be general or product-specific. Some vendors supplement this
section with an "ask the experts" service that uses external expertise.
For a company that's shopping around for a new CMMS, the Internet is a logical
starting point. Many of the vendors provide download capability for demo software.
Some may have a simulated interactive demo built right into the web site, while
others prefer to have an electronic order form and ship a demo CD by mail or
One of the potentially more useful sections deals with providing information
about general maintenance management practices. For example, information about
reliability-centered maintenance, how can predictive maintenance save money
and what are the advantages and disadvantages of centralized warehousing? In
some cases, CMMS vendors produce "white papers," which are pronouncements about
new technology that's being considered or new techniques for getting the most
out of your CMMS.
This is similar to a help desk, except that it's primarily interaction between
users. Some CMMS vendors have helped establish a separate site for their user
group. Users typically talk about the best use of software, suggestions on what
external software tools may be useful to supplement the CMMS, as well as workarounds,
in terms of known software shortcomings. CMMS vendors can also monitor the web
site for market research. For example, it can determine what improvements should
be made to the software and the services provided by the company?
Keeping users informed is one key function of the internet site. This means
news of upcoming software versions, the company, new customers, better ways
to use the software, events like training sessions or conferences and people
One of the most powerful selling tools for any software vendor is publishing
an unbiased, unsolicited testimonial from a pleased customer. This carries a
lot of weight for potential buyers, especially if it's presented in a format
that's clearly not biased, such as a user forum. If there are short quotes like
excerpts used in movie ads, then let the buyer beware. Following a testimonial
or implementation description, you want to find customers willing to include
their name, address and phone number published on the web site. This creates
Strategic alliances and partners include software vendors that have built an
interface to the CMMS software, or that are jointly marketing products. Examples
include vendors of condition-monitoring equipment, radio frequency (RF) data-collection
devices, and document management software. Usually, the CMMS vendor provides
basic information about the partners and their products, as well as a "hot link"
to its web site.
Be wary of a CMMS vendor that doesn't value its employees enough to devote space
to them on the web site. The vendor should be proud to provide a thumbnail sketch
of each key manager in the company, including contact information, a general
description of the company's philosophy, and track record regarding employment.
Some companies are developing a means by which users can access a CMMS application
and database involving the use of a browser on the Internet or via an intranet.
This means user workstations don't require the CMMS software to run on their
hard drive or local network server. However, Internet users complain of slow
response times, especially experienced during peak periods.
David Berger is with Western Management Consultants and is
the founding president of the Plant Engineering and Maintenance Association
For more information
call (416) 362-6863 ext. 237;
email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.wmc.on.ca.
with permission from Plant Engineering and Maintenance magazine.