Will best of breed EAM packages be taken over by ERPs?
Though I am convinced that EAM packages do have a bright future and would continue to have a large user base, yet a best of breed EAM package being my bread & butter for last one decade forced me to revisit & endorse my views on this. So, I wore the hat of a package evaluation team and considered following facts -for an EAM package selection:
• Within an organization, Business decides the solution and IT is the facilitator
• The packages are evaluated based on the business process fitment & best practices
• Ease- of - use : Change management also plays an important role
• Maintenance departments are no longer perceived as cost centers and single asset failure even for a second may be very expansive to afford
• Of course, total cost of software & related implementation would also be a deciding factor
The ease of use is one of the most important factors which should be seriously looked into while selecting a package for production & maintenance department users as most of these users mainly work on the shop floors, operating heavy critical machines and they do not have luxury to sit in offices and explore software packages. The software, they use, should assist them in entering & analyzing the data quickly & easily. Most of the time, these production assets are operated on 24X7 basis, with people working in shifts to get maximum output without any damages to human life & surrounding environment, hence software should be built for users rather users accommodating themselves for software.
Considering these high level points, I compared ERPs & EAMs in general without getting into specifics of individual packages and what I found is as follows:
(1) ERPs are mainly developed keeping in mind of business needs of accounting, material management, manufacturing, sales, finance & payroll processes etc.
(2) While ERPs continue to add EAM features to their products, EAMs are also not lagging behind. EAMs, specially maximo, have added many more unique features, industry specific solutions within the product e.g. liner assets, various other industry solutions etc, in last few years.
(3) EAMs cannot be used in silos and they would need integration at-least with financial function of an ERP or client's legacy financial system.
(4) ERPs tend to be rigid in terms of ease of use (specially for shop floor users), configurable option and customization possibilities, as compared to EAM packages. EAMs provide an easier navigation & presentation layer to deal with.
(5) Maintenance operations are becoming more complex & mature day-by-day and need robust software solutions to take care of business
Considering all of the above, I found that both ERPs & EAMs would continue to gain more maturity and EAMs would be one step ahead of ERPs in terms of overall benefits for asset intensive organizations. If implemented, EAM module of an ERP, often take a back seat against much heavier accounting & manufacturing modules, and fail to provide the real benefits. EAMs, with their rich functions, ease of use, best practices & business process maturity would continue to be selected by asset intensive organizations. But at the same time, EAMs also have to find the easier way to integrate with ERPs so that businesses can take advantage of both the solutions together resulting into ERP+EAM rather than ERP Vs EAM.
Additionally, we need to realize that in today's world, an EAM package is not about just creating some asset records and doing regular PM jobs etc. The technology is advancing, world is getting interconnected, assets are becoming smarter, problems are getting more & more complex (not to forget the recent oil spill), hence the businesses need smart & intelligent EAM packages rather than just a maintenance module. So long live EAMs.