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.
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.
Vesta Launches Hydrogen, a Simple & Flexible EAM Mobility Solution.
Introducing: Vesta Hydrogen
Stamford, CT, October 11, 2016 – Vesta Partners, a global SAP EAM consulting firm, announces the releases of a new EAM Mobility Solution, called Vesta Hydrogen. The solution has been developed by Vesta, to unlock the full potential of any SAP EAM system by empowering the asset management end-users to work seamlessly in the field or in the office using the same adoptive interface.
“We have seen a revolution in enterprise system user experience during the past few years. No longer is it sufficient to assume that users will engage with enterprise systems using monolithic interfaces that tie them to their desktop” stated Mike Maiolo, the CEO of Vesta. “That is why we are very excited to bring our customers an EAM mobility solution that allows asset management end-users to focus on the work itself, rather than the technology.”
Vesta Hydrogen has a modern, SAP Fiori-based UX that works on laptop, tablet and mobile devices (Windows PC, iOS & Android). The solution is fully functional offline to support field based work, and it has an easily configurable high-contrast theme for better use while outdoors. A simple role based configuration for maintenance tasks shows users only the information that is necessary to complete their work, improving field productivity and saving cost by eliminating custom coding. Structurally, the Hydrogen solution has a flexible and lightweight architecture that easily transitions into the SAP EAM landscape with minimal impact.
“Most importantly, Vesta Hydrogen is developed, supported and backed by Vestas SAP EAM industry experts… and EAM isn’t just something we do. It’s all that we do” states Rob Ericsson, Vice President Mobility & Usability.
Vesta Partners is a professional services firm focused on SAP EAM solutions for customers in asset intensive industries. As an SAP Services and Select Consulting Partner, Vesta’s approach combines industry best practices with practical technology solutions to help customers track, manage and report on capital asset usage. In addition to its consulting services, Vesta offers proprietary software solutions addressing niche EAM demands. With offices located in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific, Vesta’s real world experience and practical solutions deliver results that directly translate into efficiency improvements and real cost savings.
“Companies who buy complex software are typically persuaded by the array of features that promise to show the real-time big picture of how the business is performing in order to maximize the bottom line. Asset management and decision making can be carried out faster by having full access to easy-to-understand information. Instead of having to pour over endless numbers for productivity, fast analysis can be done with one quick glance. However, SAP is a system that was made with generic goals in mind. It can’t be used as-is for employees who aren’t highly trained in how it works. In fact, it often can’t be used in this way under any circumstances. Consider one of the largest transmission companies in Canada, who needed to schedule electrical outages, but their system wasn’t able to accommodate this request. As mentioned, there are ways that a company can still work with the system, but it’s understandable that this barrier would cause a search for a more customizable suite.
Trying to mold a business into the features can result in a disparity between the data and the truth which can then cause larger problems down the line. Even the super users may not fully understand if they’re wasting time on a process that could be automated because they don’t have anyone to ask. This can be difficult for companies to accept, especially considering the expense of implementing SAP. The features aren’t necessarily readily understood by anyone, and it can take years before all of the secrets are defined. The strategy taken by a high-level User Experience is to puzzle through the various processes that are necessary for an employee at any level to understand, and then to make it easier for them to perform while still keeping the existing infrastructure.
Training is another factor that companies may severely underestimate — both in terms of time and in effectiveness. It can take literally millions of dollars’ worth of man hours, and it often results in an extreme underutilization of the system. Showing someone how to do something and having them perform it are not remotely the same. Asking workers if they have questions during training is often pointless because they’re still trying to grasp the most basic changes to begin with. One example of this was seen in one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies that uses SAP within many departments. After several years of implementing the SAP system, the executives still see end users who struggle with performing simple functions. The IT team denies they can make changes that will help because it’s not accounted for in their budget, and the management team thinks it’s too late to make the changes anyway. This type of inefficiency exists in many companies that use the out-of-the-box SAP, and the disconnect costs too much to let it continue.
Businesses also struggle with data integrity. When there is so much to keep track of, numbers can become skewed for a variety of reasons. If a worker doesn’t understand how to give direction to the system or what a field name stands for, then decision makers become understandably hesitant to use the reports available. This can stem from nomenclature problems or just a lack of understanding the interface. If a worker is familiar with a physical part or task by one term and they can’t find that exact term anywhere in the system, it opens up the possibility of guessing or avoiding the situation entirely. Help is often unavailable due to schedule constraints. This particular problem is also a side effect of the one-size-fits-all approach of EAM enterprise software on the market. Data problems can become especially rampant if a company has high turnover. Every worker has a different history with technology, and poor past experiences can cause people to have a mental block to even the most simplified processes.”
SAP EAM UX Blog Series – SAP Business Client & Web Dynpro (Part 6)
SAP Business Client 6.0 is the new name for the latest version of SAP NetWeaver Business Client.
The SAP NetWeaver Business Client (NWBC) is the unified environment for SAP business applications, offering a single point of entry. It can host a wide variety of content including Web Dynpro, Personas Flavors, Fiori Launchpads, SAP GUI transactions and any web-based content.
standard client for Business Suite
role-based access to SAP business applications
integration of different UI technologies
allows modifications-free mash-ups via Side Panels
supports access and navigation to other systems
Web Dynpro for ABAP or Web Dynpro for ABAP (WD4A, WDA) is the SAP standard UI technology for developing Web applications in the ABAP environment. It consists of a runtime environment and a graphical development environment.
Web Dynpros offer several advantages
Web Dynpro supports a structured design process
Strict separation between layout and business data
Reuse and better maintainability by using components
Web dynpro application types
There are several ways to present web dynpros using the Business Client, options include an Overview Page, Object Instance and Guided Activity Floorplan.
An Overview Page offers the ability to embed multiple web dynpro applications in one screen, think of it as a homepage or landing page. Example of Order and Notification Center Overview Page is shown below:
An Object Instance is the display of an SAP Object, for instance a piece of equipment, work order or notification. An example of an Object Instance of a work order is shown below:
Guided Activity Floorplan
You can use a floorplan to model an application interface that guides the user through an activity step-by-step. The activity is one that is generally very complex and not carried out by the user on a regular basis but can, however, be divided into logical steps. A mockup of a Guided Activity Floorplan is shown below:
Web dynpro is a core technology for SAP and many applications have been developed that support EAM. These applications are part of the ERP package and do not require additional licensing.
One of the important new technologies available to improve the user experience for SAP EAM users is SAP Screen Personas. SAP Screen Personas provides customers the flexibility to personalize and transform the SAP GUI screens to suit their specific business needs.
SAP Screen Personas gives business users and IT users the ability to meet the need for rapid screen changes, delivering improved user experience and increased work efficiency. Providing the right information to the right users in the right context enables them to get more done in less time with greater accuracy. With more intuitive SAP screens, organizations can enhance user satisfaction, minimize training time, and spend less money on screen modifications.
SAP Screen Personas is a browser-based rendering engine for classic SAP Dynpro screens. SAP Dynpro is the familiar and standard SAP GUI technology used for the majority of SAP ERP screens. SAP Screen Personas allows those transactions to be customized and presented in a web browser with no installation of the SAP GUI client needed on the desktop.
The architecture of SAP Screen Personas 3.0 is shown below. SAP Screen Personas is designed to be non-intrusive to existing solutions and follow the existing security configuration. Implementing SAP Screen Personas does not alter the existing GUI presented in the SAP GUI or any other SAP UX technology. Existing functionality can be preserved reducing implementation risk while enhancing the user experience for groups of users in critical transactions.
A typical implementation of SAP Screen Personas focuses first on those screens where some changes to the SAP GUI interaction will dramatically improve results. From this initial start, you can proceed to build Flavors for more user groups to gradually provide an improved user experience for a large set of SAP users.
SAP Screen Personas provides a simple and efficient way to streamline and improve the user experience for your SAP EAM users with minimal risk to your existing SAP implementation.
SAP Fiori is the new user experience (UX) paradigm for SAP software. It applies modern design principles and dramatically changes the way users interact with SAP ERP. SAP Fiori UX represents a personalized, responsive and simple user experience across devices and deployment options. Instead of users adapting to SAP and memorizing arcane transaction codes, navigating difficult tabs and large collections of fields, SAP Fiori works the way that users want to work.
The five design principles for the Fiori UX are:
Role-based. Designed for specific roles and how they work.
Supports any device.
A focus on only important aspects of tasks.
Provides on fluid, seamless experience.
Makes an emotional connection.
SAP supplies 500+ role-based apps that apply the SAP Fiori UX providing enhanced user productivity and personalization for customers using SAP Business Suite with more delivered and refined every quarter. The delivered content supports a variety of roles in lines of business include HR, Finance, Manufacturing, Procurement, and Sales and can be extended and tailored to match a variety of business processes. This is one of the most active areas of SAP development. SAP envisions a future in the S/4 HANA release where substantially all user interaction takes place through screens designed with the Fiori principles.
Fiori has three different app types to support a variety of interactions. The first are transactional apps that allow users to perform transaction tasks like creating a purchase requisition. These are what many people commonly think of when they think of using SAP. Analytical apps provide users role-based insight into key performance indicators to allow a dashboard driven decision and action model. This is a new and dynamic way to work with SAP and offers an excellent way to close the loop between information and action. Lastly, fact sheets display contextual information and key facts about central objects used in business operations. These allow easy navigation through important business objects and the objects they are related to. For example, if you look at an equipment in a fact sheet, you will see not on the details of that equipment but have links to look quickly at the measurement documents, work orders and other objects that are attached to it.
One significant limitation is that analytic apps and fact sheets require SAP Business Suite on HANA. This is because they rely on the very quick response times provided by HANA when searching through many records. If you haven’t migrated to SAP HANA yet, you can use the transactional apps to provide users with a robust user experience for their day to day transactional tasks.
In addition to the apps delivered by SAP, the underlying technology for Fiori called SAPUI5 can also be used to develop custom apps based on specific customer requirements. An example of an SAPUI5 app developed by Vesta for processing SAP EAM notifications and work orders is shown in the pictures below. These custom apps follow the SAP Fiori design principles and can be used on any device.
Fiori is the future of SAP UX. If you are running SAP Business Suite on HANA, you can move towards that future now by deploying the SAP content. If you are not running HANA yet, you can still benefit from the SAP transactional content or build your own role based, responsive, simple, coherent and delightful apps that maximize user productivity.
Step 6 may also contain a review of completed jobs, examples are shown below:
As you can see, there are many UI options available for the execution of the EAM Work Processes. Each UI technology offers a variety of advantages and disadvantages. Before investing in any specific UI tool, we encourage you to conduct a thorough analysis of the individual process in question to determine best fit.
If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our real world experts, contact us at email@example.com.
SAP EAM UX Blog Series – New way of thinking about EAM work processes (Part 2)
In my last post, I gave an overview of the three basic EAM work processes:
Corrective Maintenance – Work intended to restore a machine to its normal design state.
Emergency or Breakdown Work – Make sufficient repairs to return a machine to service after a failure. May require additional corrective work in the future.
Preventive Maintenance – Routine work intended to identify or prevent machine issues before they adversely affect performance.
In this post I will discuss a new way of thinking about EAM work processes and how it applies to the SAP PM module.
Orders and Notifications contain multiple transactions and ways to sort and group
Order/Notification Type, System and User Statuses, Dates, etc.
Most SAP installations have declined over time with no standard process being followed from site to site, and most times not even within the same site
This is due to several factors:
Employee turnover, lack of discipline, lack of training
Maintenance objects will be grouped into work queues to be processed
Users will not need to know Notification/Order type codes
Notifications/Orders will be known by their description which is how the business uses them
User will not need to know if what is in the queue is an order or a notification
Notifications and Orders will be pushed to the work queues from an action by a business user
Pressing an Approve button to move an order to a Scheduling queue
Select from a drop down list and hit a button to assign a job to a technician
How can this be accomplished? The first step is to build a repeatable EAM work process with the master data to support it. Once solid processes are in place SAP has introduced many new tools that allow User Interface to be tailored to your process. Utilizing these new tools, a user can be guided down the business process with only the required information presented to him at the required time.
Example of assigning a Job to a technician
A maintenance supervisor logs on to the system, he goes to his Scheduled Work queue, which is scheduled jobs for this week, selects the correct work group and technician, selects the order(s) and hits the Assign button.
When the technician assigned the job(s) logs on to the system, his work queue will contain the job(s) assigned to him with only the pertinent information.
Now that we are thinking about our EAM Work Processes in a new way, my next post will contain an overview of which SAP User Interface Technology can be used for the different steps of the EAM Work Processes.