Opportunities to Optimize SAP PM with Added Automation
ERP systems like SAP are critical systems for managing many aspects of your business and operations including plant maintenance. While the ERP vendors continually drive improvements, there are still some automation opportunities to augment their capabilities with third-party solutions. Significant improvements in operational excellence and cost savings can be achieved with solution specialists in automation, digitization, data analytics, artificial intelligence, and mobility.
Plant maintenance is a significant and critical part of operations that is challenged with labor shortages and high pressure on reducing costs. Consider the opportunities to take advantage of solutions to reduce printing costs, increase wrench time, and drive maintenance efficiencies to be able to do more with less.
To take advantage of these exciting advancements you need to consider what are the biggest opportunities for added functionality for your organization.
What are the Maintenance Improvement Opportunities with SAP?
According to a 2020 survey of ERP EAM Functional satisfaction by a leading analyst, the top functions related to maintenance management that have the biggest gap in customer satisfaction are:
- Workforce Data for Scheduling – The capability of tracking workforce availability, qualifications, and skills for assignment to specific maintenance jobs
- Work Scheduling – Automating the assignment of tasks to resources over a period of time
- Subcontractor Management – The capability of tracking, hiring, and paying subcontractor services
- Mobility – Providing a mobile work process for maintenance technicians with online and offline support
As you can see, it’s all about features to better manage work orders such as the planning and scheduling of work to the right technician, efficient routing, tracking the completion of work, and keeping the maintenance staff in the field/plant with information at their fingertips with mobile devices.
The analyst also commented that many of these features, like mobility, are especially challenging for the ERP provider (and in-house development teams) to keep up with. The constantly evolving technology and user expectations based on consumer experiences drives many customers to seek third-party solutions from vendors specialized in these technologies.
Addressing the ERP Feature and Performance Gaps
The good news is that there are solution opportunities available today to augment the ERP system.
- Planning & Scheduling Applications – Instead of sifting through downloaded transactions from the ERP in a spreadsheet or project management software, a Planning & Scheduling solution can bring automation to the sorting of the data and create informative views for quick decision-making to save hours in the process every week.
Look for solutions that can track the skills and availability of the maintenance staff and then use this data to automate the creation of a baseline schedule. Consider the availability of different UI options such as a Gantt chart to check dependencies and facilitate schedule refinement. For flexibility to unique and changing needs, look for solutions with the ability to add custom rules and data inputs into the scheduling automation to continually drive more efficiency.
- Mobile EAM Applications – Replace paper-based work orders with mobile devices to keep data digital. With real-time access to the ERP system, technicians can quickly check a manual, look for parts, or report a problem. Keeping techs in the field results in greater responsiveness and better resource utilization.
Apps should manage tasks and synchronize mobile databases with ERP databases in real-time, plus provide complete offline experiences for the maintenance staff. Native apps for leading device OS platforms will have more intuitive interfaces for faster user adoption and can better integrate the use of device functions like location-based services and cameras.
Consider Mobile EAM solutions that can deliver high performance for the high volume of data exchange inherent in maintenance processes, plus support a high number of mobile users. In addition, make sure the solution has the ability to grant access to individual users (including contractors) for specific workflows to support time tracking.
Plan your approach to add-on solutions recognizing the internal impacts of build or buy decisions as well as complementing your investment in your ERP system as the database of record / single source-of-truth. If you have traditionally built your own custom software to address ERP gaps, you may want to consider these things:
- On-going Maintenance – The ongoing maintenance of solutions is important and mobile solutions can especially be a challenge. Not just for bug fixes and security, but mobile solutions require updates to maintain compatibility with mobile operating system changes. Consider 3rd party solutions with a vendor specialized in mobile app development and maintenance.
- Adaptability – With the rapid advancement of technologies and the increasing need to accommodate changes in processes. Consider solutions platforms that cost-effectively allow for continual customization of the applications to modify workflows and incorporate the latest technologies, such as data from sensors or smart machines.
- Maintenance Process Expertise – Maintenance processes are complex with many integration points with the ERP. Consider 3rd party solutions with vendors that have focus, experience, and deep knowledge in maintenance processes for asset-intensive industries. In addition, consider providers who have a strong track record with your ERP, like specialists in integration with SAP as well as a consistent history of certification.
Get Help from the SAP PM Experts
Sigga has been helping companies to close gaps in SAP PM functionality for over 20 years. It takes dedication and ongoing development to sustain world-class mobile experiences. As a result, Sigga Mobile EAM is the leading mobile solution for maintenance workflows. As a natively designed application, our Mobile EAM app benefits from the OS-provider continued innovations and security. We have also developed our own SAP-certified integration technology to provide higher performance to support the data exchange volumes required for maintenance workflows of large, Enterprise organizations with hundreds of mobile users.
We also address SAP functionality gaps in scheduling the workforce with our Sigga Planning & Scheduling solution which automates schedule creation using an internal database of technician availability and skills. In addition, the solution can accommodate the addition of custom data and rules to extend the automation of your unique routines for further time savings.
See how our solutions have been specifically designed to complement your SAP PM investment.