Estimating the Time and Costs To Establish CMMS Databases for a Maintenance Management and Work Order System

A computerised maintenance management system (CMMS) adds value when all plant engineering data is available, work orders are fully comprehensive with completely correct tasks, times, resources and parts, and it is fully integrated to the Stores, Human Resources and Financial records of your company.



Dear Mike,

Refering to a new plant that we are building, there are some questions I have regarding establishing a new data base in our CMMS (we are working with SAP) in order to manage the maintenance department and its activities.

1. We have to build new spare parts lists and to define safety stock levels.

2. We have to prepare maintenance plans and route cards for all type of maintenance (mechanical, electrical, instrumentation)

How many people I have to hire to do the above jobs (I have to convice myself and my manager). Do you have some “rules of thumb” for the tasks? Are any KPI’s or other factors in order to define manpower to do the tasks? Please let me know.



Hello Friend,

I’ll answer your questions in the same sequence as you have asked them. Remember that a full integrated CMMS feeding from accounts, stores and payroll into the work orders is a most important requirement in analysing maintenance costs and identifying opportunities for continuous improvement.

1. The standard time allowance for cataloguing and entering a single part into a stores’ catalogue accurately and with sufficient descriptive content is 30 minutes per item. This is for an experienced cataloguer with easy access to the item and its description/specification. If you have 2000 items to catalogue you need to allow about 1000 hours, which is 125 eight-hour working days. If the parts are not readily on-hand you will need to allow additional time to collect the necessary information from the suppliers or manufacturer. That could easily add another 30 minutes to each item.

2. My own experience is that it takes on average 4 hours preparation, investigation, development, parts listing, purchasing details, writing time, CMMS input time per one hour work on a PM work order to create the necessary details required. The complex jobs will take more hours, the less complex take fewer hours. But on average 4 hours development per one hour of PM length is a good place to start.

This is based on using experienced planners in their trade. It is a big job and the payback comes during the years after it’s done. It’s an investment that returns in lower future operational and maintenance costs, faster response and outstanding production equipment reliability.

Of course you can do what most people do and simply enter a PM into the CMMS with a few lines of comment about the task and then hope that the planners can somehow do all the necessary job scoping, task planning, parts purchasing, procedure writing, document compilation, task planning before the job is due to be done. But you will never get world class results from your plant doing it that way, because there will never be enough time to do the proper planning and get the preparation right on more than 20% of your PMs before the job is due to done.

My recommendation is to target for 80% to 90% planned maintenance work for all trades including statutory maintenance. That means work fully scoped, with appropriate and sufficient procedures, all necessary drawings, complete with parts list, safety instructions, plant isolation lists, direct and indirect labour hour estimates, external resources itemised and their hours also estimated, supplier information, technical particulars, commissioning results and design requirements. Provide full and complete information to your maintainers.

This approach will also let you specify a large portion of the spare parts catalogue and to decide whether to stock or order the appropriate items needed for the planned maintenance.

By doing this you will be in greater control of reliability, need fewer planners, you can better schedule maintenance, more certainly prevent unplanned outages, more easily alter and manipulate the maintenance effort and see the effects of changes in maintenance plans on production.

I hope that you can get some useful ideas from the above.


My best regards to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


PS. If you require advice on industrial asset management, industrial equipment maintenance strategy, defect elimination and failure prevention or plant and equipment maintenance and reliability, please feel free to contact me by email at