Industrial maintenance teams work in increasingly complex and dynamic environments. Moreover, budget pressures mean continually working to do more with less. Investing in the right mobile maintenance technologies can help overcome these challenges by improving productivity and communication for greater responsiveness and cost savings.
But deploying a mobile app for SAP plant maintenance is not enough, you need the flexibility to continually automate more of your routines and adapt quickly to changing requirements over time.
In today’s article, we speak to the benefits of deploying a mobile maintenance app on a no-code platform to gain the flexibility to own your workflows and modify the app at any time. Let us show you how you can improve productivity today, and future-proof your operations for whatever comes next.
The Case for Change
We live in a rapidly accelerating world where we are constantly having to adapt to changes and embrace new opportunities. As McKinsey reports, “The pressure to change had been building for years. The need for operational flexibility has risen to the forefront of many organizations’ objectives for 2022 and beyond.” They go on to point out that “many organizations began focusing on flexibility and efficiency well before the pandemic made the need for change abundantly clear.” And for those that didn’t, they found that they were not prepared and still operating in a world that is disappearing. “These companies that have yet to embrace digital transformation risk being left behind by disruptive tech-savvy businesses.”
This is as true for the maintenance department as it is for any other functional area of the business. Although maintenance organizations, in particular, have lagged when it comes to embracing technological change. Many of these organizations have processes that are still based on using printed work orders and administrative data-entry tasks. This leads to workflow inefficiencies, increased costs, and reduced productivity. But the answer is not merely to introduce digital mobile technologies into these inefficient workflows. Rather, maintenance teams require tools that give them the flexibility to address their unique requirements – both today and into the future.
Why Mobile Maintenance Apps Have Traditionally Lacked Flexibility
The initial deployment of a software app has traditionally been a time-consuming and costly process. Once an app is selected, you go into the process of customizing the app for your needs. This comes at a cost, either from the vendor, professional consultants, or your highly skilled internal IT developer. This process typically results in lengthy delays in implementation. Once the app is ready, you go into testing and at this point, you might find that the workflows aren’t quite right and face the decision to go back to do more customizations.
Eventually, you deploy the app and expect that you don’t need to touch it again. If something changes in your environment, you would need to go back through the process of securing resources to code an update. And this again costs the organization a significant amount of time and money. In fact, according to The Systems Sciences Institute at IBM, the “cost to fix an error found after product release was four to five times as much as one uncovered during design, and up to 100 times more than one identified in the maintenance phase.”
A Mobile Maintenance App Provides Efficiency;
No-Code Provides Flexibility:
And Both Provide Cost Savings
Research firm Gartner notes that digital acceleration is putting increased pressure on IT professionals to “dramatically increase application delivery speed and Time to Value. The increased demand for custom software solutions in support of digital transformation has sparked the emergence of citizen developers outside of IT, which, in turn, has influenced the rise in low-code.”
No-code or low-code platforms allow those with little to no coding experience to modify and build applications. Gartner refers to these business users as “software assemblers” or “citizen developers.” “The software assembler is a “citizen developer” which essentially means that with minimum to no coding training a technically astute person can create new software capabilities which can help speed-up the overall digital transformation initiatives.”
This point was reinforced by Arthur Cole, for Technopedia, “All of this points up the fact that no/low-code is not merely another step in software development, but a dramatic shift in the functioning and economics of the enterprise. With development democratized in this way, the direct cost of development should come way down even as the economy of scale for each new program improves.”
The Quality Impact
Besides improving app development speed and lowering costs, no-code improves app quality by directly involving the people closest to the work in the development process. As research firm Forrester notes, the business offer greater value in application development, “not only for its proximity to the customer but also for its knowledge of its process.. Arming cross-functional teams with development and collaboration tools appropriate for everyone’s skill level will also help firms overcome another top challenge: lack of technology skills.”
Forrester’s research also found that for enterprises that were using low-code/no-code platforms “digital process automation, and collaborative work management reacted faster (to the immediate pandemic driven changes) and more effectively than firms relying only on traditional development.”
Mobile Maintenance App Modifications
To highlight the possibilities, we’ve gathered some examples of customizations that could be accomplished by a citizen developer to a mobile maintenance app when delivered on a no-code platform:
Example #1: Inspection Confirmations
The plant has very complex equipment that requires over 100 operations to be inspected and confirmed individually in SAP to meet compliance requirements. The process to open up each inspection order in SAP and placing a time stamp on each operation took longer than actually performing the inspection.
The mobile app was modified to allow the technician to select multiple operations and perform a mass update to SAP for every inspection operation that was o.k. Then, while they were in front of the piece of equipment, they could update individually each operation with issues to note the problem. The later action automatically opened a notification.
Significant time savings in the inspection process plus faster response to issues found.
Example #2: Workflow Differences by Site
A global client has operations of various sizes around the world. They wanted to streamline the approval process for certain actions in the smaller sites but retain the checks in the larger maintenance organizations.
The mobile maintenance app was modified based on the technician credentials by site. For example, in the smaller sites, the technician was allowed to make material reservations without supervisor approval.
The change improved productivity in the smaller plants. The modification took less than 4 hours to complete on Sigga’s no-code platform which would have taken 2-weeks with a professional developer.
- Adding a drop-down menu in place of an open text field to capture common reasons for failure. This enables the Engineering team to perform Root Cause Analysis (RCA).
- Adding a new field to an existing inspection checklist within a mobile maintenance app (i.e. a pressure sensor was added to a piece of equipment).
- Adding verification steps to a process to address non-compliance (i.e., avoiding inspection shortcuts by including a step to ensure that a technician is in close proximity to an asset being inspected).
- Adding a second approver to a work order (i.e. once approved by both the Level 1 and Level 2 approver, the work order status changes to complete).
- Adding a process where an email is sent to a certain person when a certain action is taken (i.e. when an urgent notification is submitted the maintenance supervisor is immediately notified).
These examples only scratch the surface on what’s possible. We recently stepped through a complex modification with a client that took 5 days, but would have taken a developer two months or more to accomplish the same change in the past. Every maintenance department has it’s own unique needs and objectives. For this reason, a mobile maintenance app on a no-code platform can give maintenance teams the flexibility they need to modify their workflows to best fit their requirements.
A New Era in Software – Reduced Costs, Easy to Modify, Faster to Deploy
Today’s organizations face dynamic business challenges that have further emphasized the need for operational flexibility. No-code and low-code solutions will play increasingly important roles in enabling this flexibility and advancing digital transformation initiatives.
Industry/ERP Analyst, Joe McKendrick notes, “because of low-code and no-code, the composable enterprise concept is emerging. Instead of taking the outdated approach of relying on limited software tools that can only be improved with developer resources, we're seeing businesses quickly assembling, and reassembling, functional building blocks for their most important processes. In the composable enterprise model, businesses can react to fast-changing market conditions by adapting their tooling and processes, particularly as increasingly savvy line-of-business teams use low-code solutions to self-serve. As a result, IT organizations can refocus their efforts on the strategic projects that matter most: digital transformation, security, cloud migrations, and building a world-class customer experience."
Whether you use the no-code tools yourself or work hand-in-hand with IT, the benefits are clear. A mobile maintenance app on a no-code platform provides a great baseline from which to modify for your unique requirements and then provide the freedom to make changes at any time without the delays and costs of customizations.
Sigga EAM Empower – A Proven Mobile Maintenance App on a No-code Platform
Here at Sigga, we have fully embraced the trends we’ve been exploring here with the development of our EAM Empower solution. This solution brings our proven Mobile EAM application delivered on a no-code platform for the ultimate flexibility and simplicity to modify the application or even add new workflows.
Because of our specialized focus on mobile maintenance apps for SAP EAM, our EAM Empower mobile maintenance app is specialized to the process of maintaining data in SAP PM. Every modification to the app is automatically pre-set to exchange data with SAP PM. So besides avoiding developer customizations for creating unique workflows, you don’t need the delays and costs of an SAP IT specialist to complete the integrations. This is an end-to-end no-code experience designed especially for maintenance operations.
As a SAP-certified global software company with 20 years of experience, we are here to help you embrace this new era in flexible software. Count on us to help you take full advantage of this flexibility to improve the efficiency of your operations with SAP. Join the ranks of Sigga’s global Enterprise clients from over 14 asset-intensive industries who trusted Sigga to modernize their maintenance processes.
Read more about Sigga EAM Empower