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Do we have to distinguish EAM and CMMS solutions?

Do we have to distinguish EAM and CMMS solutions?

Wednesday 15 april 2020

To qualify maintenance management software solutions we generally speak of Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS). Sometimes, the name Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) is also used. Is there always a distinction to be made between these 2 terminologies?

> Digital technology at the service of maintenance

What is EAM software and what is the difference with CMMS software? We will detail the main characteristics of these solutions, answer to what extent they differ from each other and what is their place in today's maintenance world.

Reminder of facts

When these solutions emerged, CMMS and EAM were considered to have different approaches to maintenance management and were not aimed at the same category of stakeholders. CMMS offered a service that met the needs of technical maintenance managers, industrialists and service providers, while EAM was intended for owners of multi-site real estate assets, operating on a national or even international scale. The EAM placed more emphasis on financial aspects, such as the depreciation costs of technical assets, maintenance costs and the costs of purchasing processes, whereas in CMMS it was more oriented towards the operational aspects of maintenance.

However, with the latest generation of modern solutions on the market today, the line between the two approaches seems to be blurring. To better understand and explain the main specificities of CMMS and EAM, let's go back 40 years...

In the 1980s, when the first CMMS systems were introduced on the market, their purpose was to replace manual maintenance systems. Initially intended mainly for industrial sites, they gradually moved towards building maintenance by offering solutions that were increasingly adapted to :

  • Work order management
  • The preventive maintenance schedule
  • Spare parts inventory management
  • ... the event history of technical assets

At the same time, EAM software was developed in response to the expectations of large organisations who realised that maintenance was not limited to a single department, but required a global approach to the business. Traditionally, these systems integrated maintenance management functionalities, with particular emphasis on :

  • The life cycle of technical assets
  • A financial approach
  • Decision support

EAM's solutions were often very expensive and reserved for international groups.

20 years later, in the early 2000s, the emergence of the Internet in professional applications has totally changed the digital landscape. With the improvement of technology, the appearance of data centers, computing and storage powers have grown exponentially, allowing CMMS editors to integrate more services and increasingly sophisticated reporting and analysis tools, with the effect of reducing the gap between CMMS and EAM.

More specifically, what does EAM cover?

EAM software enables you to manage the lifecycle of a company's physical assets across all departments and sites. These solutions track the use of equipment, manage maintenance schedules to optimize asset life cycle and operating costs. 

Asset Lifecycle Management: the heart of an EAM solution. It maximizes the efficiency and profitability of all assets from commissioning to replacement. This includes planning and design, procurement and installation, commissioning, operation, maintenance and decommissioning.

Work Order Management: Once a problem has been diagnosed, the EAM software can automatically assign a work order to a technical team from an internal department or an external contractor to perform the repair. From creation and modification to tracking and reporting, EAM systems support all aspects of technical response management.

Parts catalogue and inventory management: Updating spare parts catalogues, allocating them to equipment, maintaining inventory, managing multi-site, multi-warehouse inventories represent very significant financial operating costs for companies. EAM supports these processes and workflows and allows to improve procurement control and proactive inventory management.

Human Resources Management: HR organization for technical team management, recruitment, evaluation, talent management, training, certification of employees and contractors, workload and capacity calculations are functions covered by EAM software to allow better control.

Contract management: EAM pilots service contracts of all kinds, from their signature to their completion: service contracts with customers (with verification of contractual commitments carried by SLAs - Service Level Agreements), partners, suppliers and employees.

Financial management: The EAM gathers the data allowing a thorough financial analysis of the technical and logistic installations. It can also be integrated with standard financial software to facilitate the management of project accounting and expenses. 

Analysis and reporting: EAM solutions are capable of creating reports on all aspects of a company's technical assets. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are provided to answer questions that need to be addressed in the decision making process:

  • How many times has a technical asset failed?
  • What is the impact of downtime on productivity?
  • What are the costs associated with each failure and repair?
  • How many times will this asset fail in the future? 
  • What are the potential associated costs?
  • What are the costs of prevention?
  • What will it cost to replace the asset?
  • When does the asset need to be replaced?

 What about CMMS?

Initially, CMMS was essentially a tool for managing and organizing maintenance operations: planning and distributing the work of technical teams, improving efficiency, historizing information, assisting in decision making, ensuring regulatory compliance, etc.

For a complete view of what CMMS covers and its advantages, we invite you to read the article Understanding Computerized Maintenance Management.

But not only that: CMMS editors have been able to extend the functionalities of their products and services to meet the diversity of business needs and are now equipped with powerful technical asset lifecycle management and financial analysis capabilities.

In addition, cloud technologies offering unlimited scalability - i.e. unlimited number of users, equipment and sites - enable their solutions to be deployed in companies of all sizes in cross-national geographic territories.


As technology advances and maintenance practices evolve, innovative CMMS vendors have extended the functionality of their software, blurring the boundary between CMMS and EAM. Their applications cover tasks related to asset management, accounting, finance, human resources and purchasing, just like EAM.

So are EAM and CMMS software different and should they be distinguished? No, not anymore.

By the way, our ambition is to offer an unparalleled user experience. Check it out right away: try CMMS for free. Within 2 minutes, the time it takes to create your account, you'll discover what's newest in this category of software.

You can also benefit from a demonstration led by one of our consultants: book a videoconference

Good discovery and see you soon on Yuman.


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