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“Busted” – The SAP EAM/PM Maintenance Myth

The survey was conducted in a manner that permitted cross-linking of the satisfaction level with the software tool to specific components of the maintenance work process. What was learned was that software unto itself cannot deliver value. It needs to be coupled with maintenance work and support that process. To this end it was recognized that the companies that have successfully utilized SAP EAM/PM in the maintenance arena have included the following in their business strategy:

  • Alignment of the software with the internal work processes. In many cases this required customization which was achieved with the use of outside consultants in order to utilize their extensive experience.
  • All work orders and spare parts information were included in the system along with elimination of legacy tools that previously supported these processes.
  • Extensive training both during implementation and after deployment to enhance understanding and gain acceptance.
  • Increased understanding and utilization of reporting from within the SAP software vs. exporting data to third-party tools such as Excel.
  • Inclusion within the SAP EAM/PM process of other tools and applications that support the overall maintenance effort but provide deeper and more robust functionality in key business areas.
Fig 1

The data obtained from the survey was also able to explain some of the reasoning for the myth of SAP EAM/PM’s inability to support maintenance. Some of these reasons include:

  • The majority of the respondents indicated that the implementation of SAP EAM/PM was done to improve integration across business lines and did not include
  • Maintenance as a decision maker in the process. Abandoning a system with which you are familiar for one in which you did not have input can cause problems.
  • Failure of allow time for the system and the work process into which it was being embedded to mature. Of note is the fact that 58% of those who have been operating SAP EAM/PM for more than one year gave it a good to excellent rating.
  • Failure to track all work orders and spare parts within the application. For those who did track 100% of the work orders and spares, the satisfaction rating was far higher than those who did not.
  • Failure to acquire adequate training in the use of the software, not just at implementation but on a continuous basis. In fact where more than 50% of the staff received training in the past year, the level of satisfaction with SAP EAM/PM in the good to excellent range was three times higher than those who expressed dissatisfaction.
  • Failure to abandon legacy reporting tools and only partially adopting those provided by the SAP EAM/PM software. Those surveyed who use SAP EAM/PM reporting expressed a much higher level of satisfaction than those who felt the reporting functionality fell short of their requirements.
  • Failure to abandon legacy planning and scheduling tools. While over two-thirds of the respondents indicated that they use SAP EAM/PM, there still are approximately 30% of this group still using Microsoft Excel and Project as well. There can be many hidden reasons for this which tie back to other failures such as: lack of 100% work order tracking; low levels of initial and ongoing training; and others.

The point is that the myth surrounding SAP EAM/PM’s lack of ability to support maintenance has contributing issues. It is far easier to blame the software than to institute a set of change management processes to support its implementation and optimum use. However, for software implementation to be successful, addressing the work process is critical.
Another area that was very revealing was the low number of respondents (17%) that indicated that they or their company was a part of the SAP EAM/PM user group. From the survey it appears that most organizations implement software and then move forward with the belief that the vendor is nothing more than a software salesman. The mature companies do not hold with this belief. Instead, they participate in the vendor sponsored user group to provide feedback about the tool, significantly impact future development, and overall, maintain a partnership relationship with the vendor. After all, applications such as SAP EAM/PM are not replaced often; why not have input into the product?
SAP EAM/PM can provide significant business value specifically due to its integration with departments such as Finance, Materials Management, and others within a company’s business network. This can only be accomplished if action is taken to:
Address work process as the driver of software utilization. The process changes must go hand-in-hand with the software.
Make full use of SAP EAM/PM functionality in order to attain maximum value from the product, the employee user base, and the associated work processes.
Eliminate past practices that detract from the integration capability of the software.
Provide ongoing training to increase understanding of the tool and ultimately acceptance for its use.
In the end the myth that SAP EAM/PM cannot support maintenance appears from the survey to have far deeper root causes than provided by the software alone.
The survey goes a long way to proving this fact. It is hoped that those who wish to improve their use of SAP EAM/PM, review the survey in detail, identify their gaps, and seize the opportunity for acceptance of the software and improvement of the work process.

Steve Thomas

Steve Thomas has 40 years of experience working in the petrochemical industry. He has published six books, the most recent being Asset Data Integrity is Serious Business and Measuring Maintenance Workforce Productivity Made Simple, both of which will be published this year.

You can find details for SAP Software for Plant Maintenance and Asset Management here

Editors note: You can find the SAP EAM/PM study here. It is an independent study performed by and is not associated, sponsored or connected to SAP AG in any way.