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A comparison between SAP PM and CMMS

A comparison between SAP PM* and CMMS 
*Recently the SAP PM modules has been reviewed and reinforced with new functionalities becoming SAP EAM (SAP Enterprise Asset Management). In this article, I will use SAP PM and SAP EAM referring to same SAP module.

Industries across the globe use different software and tools to manage various business processes within the organization including accounting, human resources, purchasing, production and maintenance. Some may use different standalone tools for each purpose and some may use an integrated package like an ERP to manage all purposes.

One of the most popular ERP is SAP, and SAP PM is the specific module used to manage and run maintenance in an industry. In addition, on the shelf, there are available many CMMS software for the maintenance management. The choice of SAP, CMMS and other in-house software to manage maintenance activities depends on many factors.

SAP PM (for those that run SAP) and various vendors of CMMS are used commonly in the industries and in this article we would like to find out the difference between the two. 

9 tips to select a maintenance SW 
1. Usability
Business’s operating with fewer maintenance personal may not be in favour of going for a sophisticated package like SAP PM and hence would compromise with CMMS if their requirements are met. 

SAP PM requires skilled person, trained on the particular modules to populate the data and use them. SAP PM works with entering various T-code’s (Transaction codes). So, familiarity with all or the often used transactions is required on a daily basis.

CMMS packages are mostly designed with user friendly and intuitive clicks for the transactions required and hence easy to use for the maintenance people.

2. Maintenance Management
SAP PM provides structured maintenance management functionality. The solution consists of asset management and work order management tools and ensures regulatory compliance. It helps keep assets at their peak performance by implementing promptly maintenance and shorter response times. The solution also allows users to create templates for work processes through Work Clearance Management integration (WCM) and create a fault tree list against a part or equipment in the asset master list.

CMMS allows users to create workflows and manage asset performance throughout its lifecycle. It ensures regulatory compliance and lets users create a template for custom report generation. The solution helps users schedule preventive maintenance activities and provides reports on shutdowns, outages and turnarounds, improving response times to faults to increase operational efficiency. CMMS allows the operators and maintenance team to record easily all kind of maintenance information (breakdown/reactive, corrective, preventive, upgrades) and to track the history and costs to maintain the asset.

3. Work Orders
SAP PM provides work order management functionality. The solution allows work order creation and helps users view and allocate resources (spare parts, labour, tools) filtered by equipment availability. The solution integrates with SAP HANA in-memory technology to analyse a huge variety of asset data using machine learning algorithms. Then it issues predictive maintenance triggers through notifications and alerts before a part fails. This helps users create inspection lists and prevent unplanned downtime.

CMMS package providers combines asset and maintenance management to manage and monitor the work orders full life-cycle recommending resources such as spare parts, labour and tools. It can notify, print, create, modify the work orders and are also automated to schedule preventive maintenance. Most CMMS do not have an integrated solution for predictive maintenance that needs to be managed using other applications by integrating maintenance information from the CMMS.

4. Inventory Management – material and spare parts
SAP utilizes an asset-centric model that empowers users and managers with easier access to the equipment’s most critical information — all leading to better financial and operational decision-making. SAP EAM (Enterprise Asset Management) provides excellent inventory management functionality through a Material Management component. Hence in SAP PM work order management aids in automatically creating purchase requisitions if materials required for planned maintenance, tracks and notifies of parts availability for carrying out maintenance.

CMMS provides master vendor information related to the price of supply, contracts, lead time, etc. ensuring inventory availability. It allows users to place spare parts orders and provide safety and re-order stock point updates. The solution can also automates purchase requisitions for required parts of inventory.

5. Asset Life cycle management 
SAP PM as part of the ERP provides powerful asset lifecycle management functionality with a wide spectrum of features for business processes and is proven across the industry.

Some of the CMMS vendors asset management features are also of top grade lets users track the scheduled and performed maintenance of their assets.

6. Reporting
SAP EAM has a built-in BI (Business Intelligence) module. The solution allows users to generate reports with trend analysis and fault tree analysis. It provides statistical tools for asset modelling, data discovery, asset scoring and visualization. SAP allows users to create and download activity reports for the service and maintenance history of an asset and enables creation of strong KPI metrics.

Many of the CMMS software provides robust reporting and BI features. The solution offers users reporting and auditing capabilities for different types of reports, which allow users to visualize and analyse a huge amount of data, take preventive actions, and track changes to the attributes of the asset.

Both systems have robust and useful business analytics reporting capabilities.

7. Integrations with IIOT features
With real-time analytics tools that tap the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT), SAP EAM, of which SAP PM is a component, allows users to improve the health of their assets, increase collaboration and dramatically accelerate performance with integrated enterprise asset management. Users can utilize this direct connectivity with the IIOT to adopt a usage-based business model and monitor remote assets from anywhere. SAP EAM provides integration with mobile for plant maintenance work orders and supports data import and export functionality. The solution also lets users create workflow and business automation requests to allow quick insight into work processes and audit trails.

CMMS empowers business operators by offering full integration with IIOT. This means that the solution can capture data from key sources like people, sensors and different devices for comprehensive real-time data. CMMS solution is capable of supporting other vendors software and provides for mobile integration.

Both SAP PM and CMMS can be configured with other devices or vendors.

8. Complexity
Disadvantage of SAP is the complexity built into the software. Due to this, customer may not be able to implement the complete system at one go. They will then need to implement the system in phases to understand one feature before moving to the next, as maintenance team requires to get familiar with it and may also delay and make difficult the implementation. In terms of installation and configuration SAP requires its own hardware and software installation. Moreover, a separate IT team is needed to configure, maintain, update versions, making changes in the work-flow, reporting, and other tasks. Overheads cost to run this solution has to be considered for the right trade-off between cost and benefits.

CMMS on the other hand are mostly simple one feature packages, configured, as per customer requirement and hence the customer gets familiarity easily. Here the customer’s priority of software package choice overrides the complexity issue. Considering the installation and configuration, CMMS is usually a cloud** solution (a package), which the vendor customises to customer requirement and hence it does not require additional hardware. In addition, maintaining the system is also easy and new features released by the vendor in the cloud are ready to use for the users.

** CMMS is available as a standalone and also as a cloud solution. Standalone in the sense it is installed at the user location and any changes, upgrades have to be done at the user location. It cannot be accessed from remote. Cloud solution is connected to the vendor server located in the Cloud and the vendor can provide services from remote releasing upgrades and new features ready to use for all the customers.

9. Cost
SAP PM has been customised to fit all industries and hence it is a bulky package. It is a part of a complete suite (SAP ERP) and it has to be integrated with the other SAP modules to run efficiently. To integrate, configure and run it, a strategic decision has to been taken because important investments on implementation, integration and use. SAP PM requires fees for licenses, maintenance, consulting and training. The timing to implement the solution can last several months, even years based on the size of the company and relative plants.

CMMS is specifically designed for the maintenance management and hence is a standalone system, usually a cloud solution. This has a very positive impact on cost of implementation and use. The SaaS (Software as a Service) business model permits to invest very limited economic and finance resources and, it is a software that can be run by any organization to implement a vertical solution for maintenance. It is a ready to use solution that can be implemented and run in the company in a couple of weeks.

3 synthetic parameters for the choice of the maintenance SW 

In this article, I have tried to consider some strategic aspects that must be considered when choosing a maintenance solution. The characteristics that have been compared are certainly not exhaustive but provide indicators to make a choice mitigating the risks. I believe that the choice of a purely vertical solution rather than one integrated with the company's ERP must absolutely take the 3 following aspects into account:

1. Complexity: integrating a maintenance solution into an ERP requires a strong top-down sponsorship in the organization, defined business processes with a clear ownership, and not least proven IT skills present in the company not to be strongly driven by the implementation partner. A vertical maintenance solution like a CMMS, although it could be integrated with the company's ERP, is a ready-to-use solution and can be easily implemented with almost zero impact as a stand-alone software.

2. Usability: the intuitive graphical interfaces of the CMMS allow easy use for any operator with a few hours of training, regardless of the size and culture of the company. On the other hand, a maintenance management module of any ERP needs robust business processes at all levels of the organization, proven experience in the use of transactional language and continuous structured training for the users. If you consider the size of the company and therefore the number of operators who will have to use the system, this aspect can jeopardize the good success and in some cases the failure of the implementation.

3. Costs: the costs between the two solutions are not comparable as SAP PM (SAP EAM) is a strategic investment in medium to large structured companies that drive their business through SAP ERP. A budget of several hundred thousand euros must be spent each year on licenses, software and business process maintenance, customizations, integrations, training, and documentation. On the other hand, a CMMS solution is within the reach of any company with annual investments of a few thousand euros. Being a cloud solution, this is ready to use and the only costs to be considered are the licenses to use the SW, the time to define the maintenance processes and the training to the maintenance operators.

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