Mobile vs. Desktop: Differences in CMMS Features

Reena Sommer, Ph.D. for Click Maint CMMS

Posted 4/18/2024

This article explores the differences between desktop and mobile CMMS, emphasizing their distinct features and when each should be used. It also explores some of the concerns maintenance teams may have about adopting CMMS mobile apps.

CMMS software is a tool used by maintenance teams to track maintenance activities like maintenance requests, work orders, preventive maintenance, and inspections. The software helps maintenance departments improve their operations by making their assets more productive while reducing downtime. This is true for organizations across various industries that are increasingly adopting CMMS to drive efficiency and bolster profitability.

CMMS software adoption has grown significantly over the past decade. Software Advice, a popular B2B software review site, has over 1,000 products under its CMMS category, while G2 Crowd, although not as many, lists over 300 different CMMS products. With this many options, its clear that the demand for maintenance software is high. One of the driving forces behind this increased demand is the availability of CMMS mobile apps. Today’s CMMS software can be accessed on desktop computers as well as mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. 

Optimizing Maintenance Anywhere with Mobile CMMS

A Mobile CMMS empowers maintenance technicians and managers to remain connected and efficient anywhere in the field. With mobile CMMS, users can access all their work orders and maintenance tasks from their phones or tablets and not be restricted to their personal computers in their offices or terminal stations.  The most impactful features and benefits of Mobile CMMS are:

mobile cmms

Real-time Communication

One major benefit of using mobile CMMS is its capability to facilitate immediate communication between everyone on the maintenance team. By allowing the submission of work orders, updates on task progress, and requests for assistance, mobile CMMS enables smooth communication, leading to quicker responses and improved efficiency. Mobile apps have push notifications that trigger real-time updates to requests, work orders, and other events. Some mobile CMMS apps include live chat, where users can collaborate on maintenance activities. With these apps, technicians can communicate with stakeholders in real-time, sharing images, comments, and other updates.

Scanning QR or Barcodes with Mobile CMMS

Many mobile CMMS apps incorporate the ability to scan QR or barcodes. This feature is a huge advantage as by scanning the code, users get instant information about the asset or item they are scanning. For example, by scanning a QR code associated with a rooftop unit, techs can instantly view details related to the equipment (images, manuals, history, parts), open work orders or requests, and create work orders or requests.  Compare this to not having the ability to scan QR codes and working from a desktop remotely; there is plenty of opportunity to get the wrong asset, and accessing all the details is much more difficult. QR and bar code scanning bridges the gap by making almost any information related to the asset that is stored in the CMMS accessible to users instantly from their phone or other mobile device. Scanning extends to equipment, parts, locations (rooms and other spaces), work orders, and requests. 

Capturing Photos from Cameras

One of the biggest benefits of mobile CMMS apps is the integration of mobile phone/tablet cameras. This feature allows technicians to take photos of equipment, parts, or problems encountered while carrying out their maintenance tasks. Photos can instantly be captured and associated with work orders providing additional context that text doesn’t do. Uploading images in real time to work orders, PM tasks, and maintenance requests is a significant benefit of using a mobile CMMS app. It allows for a deeper understanding of the condition of assets and facilities, which was previously not possible. 

Other Mobile CMMS Features

The features of Mobile CMMS may vary between vendors and are tailored for maintenance work while being mobile. These features include GPS tracking for asset identification, voice-to-text for hands-free data entry (and folks who dislike texting), and the ability to work offline when maintenance is required in areas with poor or no internet connectivity. Let’s shift focus to the CMMS mobile counterpart, the desktop CMMS version.

Desktop CMMS Features that Cater to Administrators

The real advantage of mobile CMMS is its ability to manage work on the go. This primarily serves maintenance technicians and operators who have to carry out maintenance tasks in the field or while at the specific location or asset where they are performing the repair, preventive maintenance task, or inspection. Administrators also get great benefits from mobile CMMS apps as they can approve requests and assign and review work orders. However, much of the administrative work can be better performed from the desktop versions. Tasks like running reports, extracting and managing data, and making changes to configuration settings, although available to some degree with some mobile CMMS, can be better performed on desktop versions. According to, 24” monitors are the standard for most users, and we see many using multiple monitors in the workplace. Mobile apps cannot accommodate so much real estate due to their size.  The following are the main features that desktop CMMS outperform mobile versions.

desktop cmms

Reporting Capabilities

One of the biggest features of a CMMS is the reporting capabilities it offers. CMMS software allows managers to run reports on maintenance history, downtime, maintenance costs, maintenance backlog, preventive maintenance compliance, asset total cost of ownership, inventory, technician performance, MTTR, MTBF and more. Although mobile CMMS apps offer some reporting capabilities in the form of KPIs and simple dashboards, due to their size and screen real estate, they do not offer the same capabilities for configuring custom reports and data analysis. Therefore, when it comes to CMMS reports, they are much better performed using desktop versions.

Data Import-Export Capabilities

Many CMMS platforms allow users to import and export data. Importing data is usually done when first configuring and setting up the CMMS and involves migrating data from other applications or uploading large asset and parts list files. For importing and data migration this is best done through desktop applications. This is also true for configuring and setting up integrations with other applications, whether it be SSO SAML, or integrating with an ERP.

Setting Configurations

Administrators can customize the Desktop CMMS to meet the specific needs of their organization through a wide range of configuration options. 

  • Configuring maintenance procedures and workflows: Maintenance managers can customize maintenance workflows to fit their organization’s specific needs and adhere to industry norms. They can also modify workflows as necessary.
  • Setting up user permissions: Different user roles can have designated access levels and privileges to ensure data protection and regulatory compliance.
  • Configuration of asset hierarchy allows maintenance managers to organize and plan for asset management and maintenance more efficiently.
  • Manage notifications: Although this can be done with many mobile CMMS apps, if administrators want to configure notifications and standardize them at a global level, desktop CMMS versions are better. 
  • Integrating with external systems: Data’s import-export capability can be customized to smoothly share information with other business applications like ERP or BMS.
  • Configuration and customization of reports: As already discussed with the CMMS desktop, CMMS admins can personalize report templates, parameters, and formats to produce specific insights and analyses.
  • Calibration management: Calibration schedules, tolerance thresholds, and procedures can be configured for measurement equipment and instruments.
  • Asset tagging and labeling: Customizable systems and labeling standards can be set up to aid in the identification and monitoring of assets.

Summing it Up

Mobile CMMS

Mobile CMMS is perfect for maintenance teams that need to be flexible and able to move around easily. It is particularly useful for field technicians, remote locations, and businesses with dispersed assets like facilities management, utilities, and telecommunications. This system enables instant communication, quick access to important data, and effective task management, resulting in increased productivity and responsiveness.

Desktop CMMS

Desktop CMMS is recommended for comprehensive reporting, data analysis, and system configuration. 


Reena Sommer

Reena Sommer has written extensively about CMMS and maintenance management best practices since 2018. Reena has been a contributor for Hippo CMMS, Click Maint among others. She has her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Manitoba. Reena hails from Winnipeg, Canada and currently resides in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

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