There's a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short answer is: not technically, though it helps. The long answer, on the other hand, is that it depends on a large number of factors but, almost always, a CMMS is a good idea for any facility with large-scale maintenance activities. It's not a mandatory part of running an organization, though it smooths out operations and makes everything work just a little bit easier.
Rather than list out the benefits of a CMMS (which we've done a few times over), let's look at some reasons why people might feel they don't need a CMMS and debunk a few.
CMMS is too costly
It's pointless to argue that CMMS implementation isn't expensive (especially if it's done poorly).
This argument represents a crossroads in maintenance thinking: how much money can we spend before something is quantified as waste? If I spend x amount on a CMMS, will I really see x + y return on investment?
If a CMMS is implemented correctly, it should (and will) save money. This return on investment comes from a number of places: lower equipment downtime, better schedule compliance, reliable equipment, tracked maintenance costs, and so on.
So yes, CMMS may seem costly upfront, especially if your maintenance program doesn’t yet have a system in place. However, you can expect a CMMS to be hugely beneficial (financially and otherwise) and more than pay for itself in the long run.
CMMS implementation is too difficult
While this is a reasonable hesitation, there's no part of CMMS implementation that is truly too difficult to do.
The problem arises from a lack of planning and preparation. People feel like implementing a CMMS is difficult because (surprise) for them, it is! But that's because they didn't create an action plan, they didn't scale down the CMMS to one area first, and they didn't communicate with their team and get buy-in.
So what's the answer?
No facility technically "needs" CMMS software, but most facilities would benefit greatly from a well-planned CMMS implementation. Ultimately, organizations need to ask themselves some questions about what they want their maintenance efforts to look like:
Do they want them to be planned and scheduled? Or do they want to continue to stay in reactive mode and perform constant emergency maintenance?
A CMMS won't fix those problems immediately (it's not a one-stop shop), but it will move a facility gradually towards world-class preventive maintenance strategies.