The Future of User Experience for SAP Applications, Mobile Asset Management, and Training & Business Process Management
The most recent SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) Conference, “Mastering SAP Enterprise Asset Management” took place in Australia last November 22-24, 2019. For three days, SAP experts, partners, and end customers presented and discussed latest developments in SAP products. The conference also covered SAP deployment and use in a variety of novel solutions for different industrial sectors. These sectors included manufacturing, energy, water management, logistics, oil & gas, food & beverage, and smart farming.
An abundance of over fifty conference presentations focused on leading-edge SAP solutions, and included mainstream products such as SAP Intelligent Asset Management, Intelligent Supply Chain Management, and S/4 HANA. It also showcased more specialised solutions in areas like Mobile Asset Management and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) dashboards.
A key highlight of the conference was the participation of different stakeholders, who contributed complementary perspectives about how to deploy, use, and fully leverage SAP EAM solutions. SAP experts and executives introduced unique technical views on the functionalities of emerging SAP products with an outlook towards their readiness and evolution for the Industry 4.0 era.
At the same time, SAP partners and customers presented real-life experiences from the practical deployment of SAP solutions, focusing on the ever-important business process reengineering and techno-economic evaluation processes. Some presentations were given jointly, and customers covered viewpoints of both solution provider and end-user within the same project.
Although presentations were delivered by dozens of speakers from all over the world, most of the customer presentations and case studies came from industrial organisations in Australia and New Zealand.
The Future of User Experience for SAP Applications: Putting Fiori to Work
SAP Fiori is a solution for delivering ergonomic and effective user experience (UX) for SAP applications. It provides UX controls for popular business functionalities such as financial applications and work approvals. The EAM conference in Australia included several presentations on the use of Fiori for more efficient asset management. As a prominent example, Ruksana Azim, SAP Logistics Consultant with AGL Energy, an Australian company involved in electricity generation and retail, presented how the company had migrated from legacy systems to a single ERP for managing repairs and refurbishment processes. Azim emphasised the use of Fiori for building dashboards to track repairs and simplify repairable processes for their assets.
In a second AGL Energy presentation given during the conference, Graham Johnston illustrated how the company had streamlined its warehousing operations based on proprietary copies of standard Fiori Apps, which provides split valuation and serialised materials traceability functionalities.
In another Fiori related presentation, Cindy Redwood, from PanAust Limited, a major copper and gold producer in Australia, explained how Fiori has helped the company gain end-to-end visibility in the supply chain. The project has led to some impressive outcomes such as the repurposing of 2,800 man-days previously tied up in tedious and procedural tasks relating to the delivery of added value services.
Jon Lewis, Procurement Enablement Manager at Australia’s Energy Company AusNet Services presented the use of Fiori for the delivery of enhanced user experiences for procurement applications over the SAP Ariba procurement platform. The solution has had a positive impact on the efficiency of the procurement processes whilst simultaneously reducing the need for training and support.
Mobile Asset Management: Real-Time Visibility on Asset Information
In an era when the number of smartphones by far exceeds the number of desktop computers, industrial enterprises are considering mobile strategies for some of their asset management processes. In this context, several presentations discussed mobile asset management solutions as a means of delivering real-time information about assets and processes, regardless of time and the end user’s location.
In one of the presentations, Dom Barker, Scheduling and Production Lead at A&L Windows, one of Australia’s largest manufacturer of residential windows, presented and demonstrated A&L’s migration from an outdated asset management system to a mobile asset management solution that leverages the flexibility and capacity of SAP’s Cloud solutions. The mobile asset management solution facilitated A&L in confronting data latency and quality issues, whilst simultaneously boosting safety, delivery completion, and access to multimedia asset information in real-time. Barker also discussed the agile methodology that was used to deliver the solution, as well as the role of the company’s design-thinking approach to boost user engagement.
Another compelling presentation come from Arend Theron from the Water and Sanitisation organisation of the City of Cape Town, which manages a vast number of assets including 20,000 km of pipelines, 35 treatment plants, over 500 Pump stations, and 36 dams and bulk reservoirs. Theron presented the City’s rationale behind the deployment of a mobile asset management solution and its role in work planning, control, and improving data quality. Theron also presented the process of designing and implementing a mobile solution, including hardware and software considerations, as well as investments in new business processes and end user training. Theron’s presentation also covered the role of SAP products in the process, including how the SAP Asset Manager, the SAP Mobile Secure Afaria, and SAP Fiori were customised and utilised.
One more presentation about mobile asset management was given by Arti Pillai, Asset Management Specialist and Reliability Engineer at CBH, which receives and stores more than 90% of Western Australia’s grain production. Pillai presented a mobile maintenance application called mWorkOrder which helped the company improve its overall field service performance and productivity while making SAP more user-friendly and easier to use for front line staff. Furthermore, the solution improved the quality of available data and facilitated the implementation of more effective preventative maintenance measures.
Going beyond the range of client presentations, numerous SAP presentations discussed SAP’s mobile asset management possibilities. In one of these presentations given by Jon Wilson, mobile solutions were presented as an integral part of SAP’s Scheduling and Intelligent Asset Management Capabilities, offered by products such as SAP S/4 HANA for asset management and resource scheduling.
Training and Business Process Management Investments Are of Utmost Importance
Several customer presentations emphasised the importance of investing in complementary assets to be regarded as critical success factors for intelligent asset management or supply chain optimisation projects. Training, business process reengineering, and change management are examples of such complementary assets. For instance, Trent Tscheuschler from Powerco, a prominent energy company and major electricity distributor in New Zealand, emphasised the significance of business process change for successful asset management. A key take-away from this presentation was that all business processes can be improved as long as we focus on investing in simplicity and process efficiency.
In a similar direction, Mark Golley from Lion, a food and beverage manufacturer in Australia and New Zealand, presented the company’s change management process and showed how it has been used to transform its planning and sourcing systems.
A second presentation was by Arend Theron from Cape Town, devoted to the process of designing Key Performance Indicator (KPI) Dashboards as a means of implementing proactive strategies for enterprise assets. Theron’s presentation included the demonstration of several dashboards with practical KPIs.
In a related presentation, Quazi Uddin, an award-winning engineer and asset management strategist from ElectraNet, presented indicators and models that can help enterprises optimise asset investment decisions in ways that minimise risks. Among the highlights of the presentation was a presentation of models that capture the risk implications of the changing regulatory landscape.
Overall, the conference provided excellent insights into the present and the future of SAP EAM solutions, with concrete examples of how they can be used to deliver innovative solutions in the digital era. SAP provides resources and continuous support to help its partners leverage SAP products for maximum benefit. However, to really amplify the benefits of SAP solutions, customers need to develop a strong culture of innovation, and to invest not only in technology but also on strategy, business process reengineering, and employee training.
The conference revealed also that companies from Oceania are at the forefront of intelligent asset management and supply chain optimisation. They are leveraging some of the most advanced SAP products and customising them to their needs. Most of the presented solutions target Intelligent Asset Management, Mobile Asset Management, Supply Chain Optimisation, and User Experience Improvements, leveraging SAP’s products and infrastructures such as S/4HANA, IAM, and Fiori.
It was certainly a very interesting conference that raised the expectations bar for the coming SAP EAM conferences in future locations such as SAP-Centric EAM & Supply Chain in the United States, planned for March 2020 and Mastering SAP EAM & Supply Chain in South Africa, planned for June 2020.