The Benefits of Integrating SAP Ariba and Enterprise Asset Management
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and procurement do not exist in a vacuum—parts and tools procured are needed to support SAP Work Orders. However, procurement is often done in one system without any link to the EAM work order information. That’s where integration between SAP Ariba and SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA can fill in the gaps and make life easier for the end user tasked with entering information and reporting on maintenance activities.
Luckily, there are over 200 standard integrations and more than 8000 integration points between SAP ERP systems and Ariba. These integrations can be implemented while maintaining all the benefits of the system tools implemented and gaining additional collaboration capabilities and efficiencies.
In fact, SAP’s Asset Intelligent Network—a fabulous tool for maintenance and EAM—already utilizes the Ariba Network. Ariba and EAM are already linked, and SAP provides the ability to further link them through system integration.
Life Without Ariba and EAM Integration
You may be an SAP EAM customer that is using Ariba, but not in conjunction with EAM processes. What are you missing? First, without the tools integrated, there are separate system accesses and processes. Even as procurement is serving EAM, the lack of aligned process may be slowing things down and creating inefficiency. That can lead to misrepresented, fragmented data and costs.
System users may also find confusion—not knowing which system to use for what purpose. That makes reporting and data entry difficult. Meanwhile, maintenance users are unable to see the status of all parts and services needed due to the information being in disparate systems.
All this leads to the assets suffering due to an inaccurate material and usage history. Overall, the lack of integration between supply chain and maintenance work leaves EAM a step behind.
Data Integration for EAM Success
What happens when Ariba and EAM are integrated? Key transaction data is provided to the SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA core—information about requisitions, purchase orders, invoices, receipts, and the status of these transactional objects.
The EAM process beings with a work order in the ERP, and Ariba integration connects requisition or catalog requests to suppliers via the Ariba Network. Data on both materials and services procured through Ariba are reflected in the ERP system for accurate reporting.
Certain integrations also allow for acknowledgments, changes, cancelation of purchase orders, and goods receipt information in the SAP Ariba Buying and Invoicing tool to be reflected in ECC or S/4HANA.
With these standard integrations, visibility of the full cost and history associated with a work order or asset can be found in one place—that ensures more accurate material and usage history, and more reliable maintenance.
Considerations for Integrating Ariba and EAM
There are some important things to consider with an Ariba and SAP ERP integration. It is important to think about the impact on integration on the end user. Minimizing multiple systems for entry and reporting will not only improve their lives, but also lead to fewer errors and inefficiencies.
Before embarking on an integration journey, it is key to identify scenarios where data replication from Ariba to ERP is critical to the EAM process. With over 200 integrations, there are many to evaluate.
Even if you’ve already implemented SAP ECC or SAP S/4HANA and SAP Ariba, it isn’t too late to integrate, it’s not something only for new implementations. Consider a “Discovery” workshop to examine your SAP investments to find out where Ariba and EAM integration can provide value. There may be a huge opportunity for efficiency gains, and happier users.
How SAP’s Two Mobile Apps for Asset Management Differ
Going mobile is a key piece of asset management strategy for many companies. SAP has two mobility options—the classic SAP Work Manager app and the newer SAP Asset Manager. Both are intended to provide workers in the field with easy access to necessary information they’d otherwise need to access in the office. However, the two apps are different in their functionality and deployment options.
First, functionality in Asset Manager is not as robust as Work Manager. This is largely a product of Work Manager being a mature solution with many years of development, while Asset Manager has a limited feature set in comparison. Both will see increased capabilities in future releases.
The Mobile SaaS Experience in Asset Management
Where Asset Manager may be appealing to customers is that it is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product (Work Manager can be deployed cloud and on-premise) that has been designed to integrate with modern technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and predictive analytics. Asset Manager is also designed specifically for modern devices—right now just iOS but an Android app is coming.
Work Manager works on iOS, Android and Windows devices currently. It also has back-end support for both SAP ECC and SAP S/4HANA. Asset Manager does yet have support for SAP ECC, but that is expected to happen soon. Development on Asset Manager is done with a mobile development kit, while development on Work Manager through on SAP Mobile Platform or SAP Cloud Platform
Why does it matter that Asset Manager has been designed specifically for modern iOS devices? That means a more user-friendly native interface. That’s a huge asset—pun intended—for adoption. The easier an app is to adopt; the more likely workers are going to use it.
As for purchasing the two apps—Asset Manager is a subscription-only service, while Work Manager can be acquired via subscription or with more traditional on-premise licenses.
Map View in SAP Asset Manager.
SAP Work Manager Isn’t Going Away
When SAP introduces one app that looks as if it may be intended to replace another app, it’s natural for customers on the older solution to wonder if they will lose maintenance and updates. That’s not the case, according to Karsten Hauschild, EAM Solution Manager at SAP, who spoke at the ASUG Rail SIG event in Orlando during Sapphire Now.
“SAP will continue to invest in Work Manager as long as customers use it—it is not a dead product,” says Hauschild.
So, if you are using Work Manager and you are happy with it, don’t feel like you have to move to Asset Manager just to avoid losing mainstream maintenance and updated functionality from SAP. Instead, look at what your business needs in a mobile app to find which one is best for you.
SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Looks to Bring New Options for Purchasing Major Assets
Industries such as Utilities, Oil and Gas, and Rail rely on supply chains from discrete manufacturers to build or supply the parts to maintain key assets. Traditionally, those assets are highly capital-intensive, with large investments required in equipment in order to run a business. At Sapphire Now, SAP launched SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing, which seeks to have the same impact on the discrete manufacturing business as the cloud has had on enterprise software.
The “as-a-service” designation was largely popularized by “Software-as-a-Service” or SaaS—where software is purchased via subscription rather than a license. In SaaS, the infrastructure is offered via the public cloud, so the company doesn’t need to make the initial investment in physical assets such as servers. This has revolutionized the way enterprise software is purchased, particularly in line-of-business units.
SAP is hoping SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing can have the same impact on the buying and selling of industrial equipment that the cloud has had on software.
How SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Works
The data collected from the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly sensor-based data on industrial equipment, has the potential for huge impact on not only the way companies maintain their assets, but operate their businesses in general.
SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing is an industry innovation kit that seeks to guide manufacturers toward a pay-for-outcome model—meaning a shift from selling major assets to providing them as-a-service.
One customer example SAP has often pointed to in this sector of a company in the air compressor industry. By using sensor data, that SAP customer changed its business model from selling air compressors to selling air-as-a-service. That means its customers only paid for the air they used, rather than buying and maintaining air compressors. The air compressor company had the best insight into keeping the compressors in working order, so it took that burden off the customer.
With this new SAP Leonardo innovation kit, SAP plans to help customers help calculate risk and identify strong potential customers through machine learning, asset intelligence, and predictive maintenance capabilities. The solution will use IoT data and other contextual business information to help determine project costs and revenue to ensure fair pricing and quotes.
Finding What’s Best for Manufacturers and Industries
At Vesta Partners, we specialize in the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) space, so we have many of the same customers as discrete manufacturers in industries such as Rail, utilities, and oil and gas.
For our customers, if SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing does what it intends, then the purchase and maintenance of major assets may be greatly impacted—going from large capital investments to pay-per-use on industrial equipment.
However, what is important to remember here is that this SAP Leonardo solution is only designed to identify those discrete manufacturing customers that are the right fit for an as-a-service offering. It may be the case that a Rail or Utilities or Oil and Gas customer finds it more cost effective to continue purchasing, rather than subscribing to, equipment.
Other times, it may prove beneficial to pay for equipment as-a-service. If that’s the case, then that’s a good thing for all parties. The important thing to keep in mind for customers of discrete manufacturers is that these changes are coming, and technology like SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing is helping to usher in that new era.
SAP Leonardo Innovation Tools: Design Thinking, Lean, & Agile
SAP has incorporated design thinking as one of the key aspects of SAP Leonardo as an avenue to implementing new technologies, such as Internet of Things, Machine Learning, Blockchain and Advanced Analytics. This incorporation of a new way of solving problems goes a long way to fulfill the vision of SAP Leonardo as a way to “navigate the digital renaissance” rather than just a go-to-market strategy for new technology buzzwords. But be mindful that design thinking isn’t the end of the story. Instead, it is the beginning of a journey.
Design thinking is an excellent practice and mindset all about exploring problems and looking at the emergent solutions. In design thinking, every stakeholder is a designer and participates in creating the future. You don’t start with a preconceived notion of the solution, instead you start with an open mind and end up with something that is potentially unexpected and often great by successive refinement.
Finding inventive solutions is vital but design thinking can only get you so far. For a truly successful outcome, you need to not only come up with an innovative solution, you need to be able to deliver it.
Complementing Design Thinking
This is where other complementary practices—lean and agile—come into play. Lean thinking originated with the Toyota Production System created by Taiichi Ono, which put Toyota in the top ranks of auto production. Lean is a cultural mindset and practice that emphasizes experimentation and evidence to improve processes and outcomes using the Plan, Do, Check, Act cycle.
Agile is a mindset that originates in software development although it can be applied to other domains as well. In the late 1990s, software development had a problem: projects were failing at an alarming rate. At the time, projects were managed through waterfall project management that has distinct and successive steps for analysis, requirements development, design, development, testing and deployment. Each step had to be completed before moving on to the next one.
A Strategic Shift
That approach changes with an agile strategy. Agile emphasizes values, principles and behaviors that lead to successful outcomes instead of “one true way” that requires strict adherence to a linear process (see the “Manifesto for Agile Development”). Agile has proven to be a successful approach with strong adoption across many companies and industries because it enables better outcomes for complex projects.
Using lean techniques to test and evaluate new solutions quickly and efficiently though prototyping and customer review goes a long way to ensuring ideas that come out of design thinking are the ones that maximize value to all stakeholders. Applying lean is an efficient way to make sure you are building the right thing. Once an idea has been evaluated using lean experimentation, agile will help you build it right. The design thinking, lean and agile mindset truly enables enterprise innovation and success—and that’s why they fit so well with the new technologies attached to SAP Leonardo.
I’ve spent 16 years at SAP, the last seven of which I was responsible for its global enterprise asset management (EAM) business. Throughout that time, I’ve most enjoyed helping customers get value out of their SAP investments. Now, to be in even more direct contact with customers and serve them even better, I am excited to join Vesta Partners as President of Vesta Europe.
Dr. Achim Krüger, new Vesta Europe president.
First off, you may be asking, why Vesta specifically? Well, from my point of view Vesta is not your typical IT consulting firm—these people live and breathe EAM, and from leadership on down Vesta is stocked full of people with years of experience in asset management. This is not some big consulting firm that specializes in all and nothing at the same time—they are keyed in on EAM in a holistic way.
This experience and expertise is important as SAP EAM customers face a technology crossroads. With the rise of SAP S/4HANA, IoT and IT/OT convergence, GIS integration and SAP HANA Spatial, SAP Leonardo, and many other new topics, software roadmaps are getting more and more complex and dynamic. That’s why I want to take my experience from the SAP side and leverage that to help customers directly.
As President of Vesta Europe, I will certainly seek to grow our business in Europe—we currently have strong practices in Benelux and the UK. However, I will not be limited to European customers when it comes to imparting the knowledge I’ve gained over the past years in the EAM space—so my role will be global in that sense. I will be working with customers to capitalize on existing and emerging technology wherever I can.
It’s an important time for EAM, and I am thrilled to be in a role that will put me face-to-face with more customers as they embark on journeys to not only transform their technological landscapes, but their businesses as well.
This post was written by Achim Krüger, President of Vesta Europe.
AI Overlords, or Assistants? SAP Bots are Here to Help
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have a great deal of potential to change the way people work. Understandably, there is great concern about the robots stealing our jobs. However, one of the first real applications of AI is to help humans work better. We see glimpses of intelligent robots helping us all the time on commercial websites like Netflix and Amazon in the form of “if you liked this, you might like that.”
These recommendation engines are driven by machine learning and are very accurate (at least for me). Although the recommendations can be unsettlingly on point, they are a big improvement in the user experience by reminding us of things we are interested in that we may have forgotten about and keep us engaged on those sites.
An AI Conversation
It is not a big stretch to see how machine learning can be leveraged in enterprise user experiences as well. In fact, SAP Leonardo features conversational AI as a way of interacting with enterprise software through the natural language capabilities of SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation. Based on this foundation, you can build your own digital assistant or bot that can assist with the completion of tasks. For example, a conversational interface that helps create a new maintenance notification where the system helps a person define and resolve the problem as illustrated below.
Interacting with natural language in the form of voice or simple text commands is much easier for casual users and allows for a dramatic improvement in user satisfaction by providing individual and contextual communcication. To that end, SAP introduced CoPilot in the 1705 release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud and continues to invest in bot technology. In fact, SAP has recently purchased a French company called Recast.AI to further drive the development of conversational chatbots. Considering the benefits of AI-driven software in the workplace, instead of fearing our new robot overlords, maybe we can welcome a new and more human-centric way to interact with enterprise systems.
What’s the business case for SAP S/4HANA? That varies by company of course, but those with a vested interest in SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), there are some clear benefits in making the leap from a legacy system to SAP’s latest ERP innovation.
From the user experience, to analytics and the ability to extend with SAP Cloud Platform, there are key differences in S/4HANA from its predecessors. There are challenges in moving to SAP S/4HANA, though. That’s why Martin Stenzig, Rizing CTO, took to the podium in front of a packed room at SAP-Centric EAM in Austin, Texas to discuss those key topics that SAP customers should keep in mind when considering the leap to S/4HANA.
Combining Mobility and Usability
EAM isn’t commonly something that happens on one laptop or in a single location. For many industries, maintenance is done by field employees, making the challenge of entering and accessing data a challenge—and one that requires mobile capabilities.
However, simply providing mobile capabilities to field maintenance workers does not guarantee adoption. Employees have to be encouraged to use mobile applications, and the best way to do that is by providing a simple user experience that makes work easier.
“The discussion is changing. It’s not anymore about mobility and usability—it is a combination of both,” says Stenzig.
For SAP customers, Stenzig points to the SAP Fiori user experience in SAP S/4HANA as way to take traditional SAP transactions that were tougher to access in SAP GUI and put them in a more user-friendly interface. Fiori is browser-based, which means it is can be accessed on many different operating systems, allowing a field employee conducting on a mobile phone or tablet to see the same screen as their colleague back in the office who may be scheduling the maintenance.
SAP itself point to the Fiori user experience as a key differentiator in asset management on S/4HANA versus asset management on legacy SAP ERP systems. However, Stenzig does warn that a key question to ask when considering Fiori Launchpad—it does require connectivity–as an access point for employees in the field is whether or not they will have access to WiFi or mobile internet.
An important piece of SAP’s plan for how customers deploy S/4HANA is utilizing the SAP Cloud Platform as a way to augment systems that would be considered vanilla by past SAP ERP standards.
“How SAP envisions SAP Cloud Platform is to keep core S/4HANA fairly static and with a sidecar approach transfer tables you need into the cloud,” says Stenzig. “If you want to build add-ons to SAP systems, do it out there (in SAP Cloud Platform).”
Stenzig explains while this strategy makes logical sense, it’s not necessarily easy to accomplish. It’s important to have a stakeholder drive the development on SAP Cloud Platform, because if so the time to innovate is reduced dramatically.
“If you don’t do anything with [SAP Cloud Platform] right now, that’s fine, but you need to get versed on it,” he adds.
Stenzig said the biggest lesson that SAP EAM customers considering a transition to S/4HANA should consider is the importance of training SAP Basis teams for the move. Their tasks change with S/4HANA, going from not just working with the core SAP ERP system, but to previously optional components such as Enterprise Search. Basis teams must also consider working with SAP Fiori, which means different browsers and different security certificates. There’s also the integration with SAP Cloud Platform—these are all things that Basis teams need to know.
“The challenge we see is that Basis organizations simply aren’t trained—that’s not their fault, it’s normal while going to S/4HANA to underestimate that part,” says Stenzig. “Either contract somebody, train individual people, or make it part of the contract that you already have. As a partner, [Vesta Partners] is making it a contingency to make sure your Basis people can do what is required.”
Taking EAM ‘Out of the Stone Age’
Why make all this effort to move to S/4HANA? Well first, Vesta Partners EAM Codex can make the process easier and faster, but aside from that moving to S/4HANA is part of laying the technological footprint that can enable companies to take advantage of new technologies. That means SAP Leonardo and that entails—Internet of Things, blockchain, Big Data, advanced analytics and more.
“You want to get to the point where you can talk about predictive maintenance or digital twins, but you’ll never get out of the Stone Age until you change the foundation,” concludes Stenzig.
The Difference Between Asset Maintenance in SAP S/4HANA vs. SAP ECC
SAP S/4HANA® is SAP’s next-generation ERP, but here’s a little secret: Transactions in legacy SAP ERPs—such as SAP ECC—can be just the same in S/4HANA. Does that mean running asset management with S/4HANA is the same as running it in SAP ECC? Not quite, and the fact that S/4HANA is optimized to run on the SAP HANA database is a key differentiator.
“I hear comments that S/4HANA asset maintenance is the same as ECC, but SAP HANA is why certain things are only possible in S/4HANA,” says Karsten Hauschild, Solution Manager at SAP, who spoke at the SAP-Centric EAM conference this week in Austin, Texas.
The SAP Fiori Impact
Hauschild points to S/4HANA’s user experience, which is driven by SAP Fiori applications such as Request Maintenance and SAP GEO Framework. The former drives maintenance request notifications, while the latter taps into SAP ESRI to run SAP plant maintenance transactions via maps.
“The user experience from a workflow/work order perspective is vastly different from SAP GUI (SAP’s transaction code-driven user interface),” says Hauschild. “That’s from feedback we’ve gotten from current customers—that SAP GUI is ugly.”
There’s also a S/4HANA-specific maintenance scheduling application which is meant to replace SAP Multi Resource Scheduling (MRS) for scheduling individual technicians.
The case for an improved user experience is about expanding the number of employees that can access the data in the SAP system, Hauschild adds. SAP GUI screens that aren’t part of Fiori apps have also been updated to look more like Fiori.
Beyond an interface that is prettier to look at, S/4HANA is also utilizing its in-memory database to drive embedded analytics and what SAP calls “Enterprise Search”—a keyword-based search function. The embedded analytics provide visualizations directly on S/4HANA transaction screens, while also providing automatically calculated KPIS.
Enterprise Search allows users to find transactions and information within the SAP system regarding a term—rather than looking up by transaction codes or work order numbers.
The Same, But Different
As an example of the similarities between the two ERPs, Hauschild says all plant maintenance transactions that exist in ECC are in S/4HANA, and have been since its launch. Overall, an SAP customer moving to S/4HANA from ECC doesn’t have to change business processes, it’s just the way SAP supports those processes from a user experience and analytics point of view—with Fiori, embedded analytics and enterprise search—that is different, he explains.
Now, that doesn’t mean that it will be a guaranteed breeze for customers to move old transactions onto S/4HANA—that process can still be arduous. Fortunately, that’s where Vesta’s EAM Codex solution comes into play, to speed up that transition to modernized SAP enterprise asset management.
SAP Real Estate Management: New Leasing Standards at a Glance
After the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) discovered a loophole with operating leases, they asked the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to work with the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to develop a new standard that would provide transparency on companies’ lease assets and liabilities.
Started as a joint project, IASB and FASB each published their own standards. These new standards are mandatory for every organization that leases real property or equipment. See our New Leasing Standards at a Glance guide to learn more about these new standards and how they affect you.