Article | May 19, 2022

Getting The Power To The Pavement

By Jeffrey Smith, Senior Director of Business Process Solutions, InterPro Solutions

field service driver

Why EAM selections need to prioritize Mobility 

“Our workforce has always been mobile, it’s our work management system that’s been stationary.”   

That keen observation was offered by a seasoned facilities executive exploring the mobile EAM (enterprise asset management) landscape almost a decade ago.  The thought remains relevant for any organization looking to optimize efficiency and raise effectiveness of their operations workforce.

Today, the top tier EAM systems are all really good, and they do a lot of things similarly well.  Most feature comprehensive functionality and wide integration possibilities … and perhaps most importantly, they are all designed for desktop use

But the real leverage in operations comes from mobility, rather than the conventional power of the desktop.  More and more, organizations are recognizing that horsepower of the engine doesn’t much matter if you can’t get that power to the pavement!  Unlocking the true potential of your EAM requires a fully realized mobile solution. 

When optimizing field operations, there is no greater return on investment than mobilizing your EAM.  None! 

Mobility allows organizations to reengineer core work processes, eliminate paper and redundant steps, remove “information blind spots,” and leverage the enormous potential of integrations.  In physical plant or field operations, putting the right information in front of the right people at the right time can only be achieved with EAM mobility.  Integrations to critical systems — including Document Management, GIS, HR, Finance /Accounting, SCADA — enabled by automated workflows, move things up the ladder of mobile effectiveness.  But that is still only the beginning. 

Offline operations (or disconnected mode) are a critical consideration. 

Many of the most intensive EAM uses in physical plant operations occur in places with little or no internet connectivity.  Subterranean, off shore, or other remote geography are places where field operations with heavy reliance on information are regularly conducted.   Performance of operator rounds, inspections, equipment calibrations, and preventive maintenance protocols are all minimal expectations for offline use.  But so are access to asset history, time card creation, materials requisitions, inventory receipt and issuances, LOTO use, and a host of other daily use case requirements.

Robust functionality in disconnected mode is essential, as is the speed and sophistication of the data download and upload processes.  How many records can be handled in 30 seconds or one minute?  Will data errors or corrupted records hold up the transfer process?  Are users synched automatically whenever connections become available?  Answers to these questions directly impact both user experience and operational effectiveness. 

Why leave anyone out of your mobility plan?

Mobilizing the entire work management life cycle is a growing expectation for all of the constituent user communities.  These include requestors, planners, internal staff responders, field service vendors, on-site supervisors, and off-site management. 

Each of these user groups has specific mobility needs that include sharing complimentary information or awareness.  Recognizing the broadness of these impacts and touchpoints, it becomes clear the EAM selection decision is more about the quality and comprehensiveness of the mobile solution than anything else.   A top-tier mobile solution positions your organization for both continued expansion of functionality as well as extension to non-traditional user groups. 

Never allow the software to constrain your device selection options. 

Few things hamper a successful transition to mobile as much as a device mandate.  Too many projects endure unneeded user resistance when a company directive to use only a specific device or operating system turns out to be a poor fit for the end users.

Creating a mobility plan includes a thoughtful device selection and deployment strategy.  Hardware, operating systems, features, and form factors change often enough that maintaining device selection flexibility is important.  More and more organizations are using sophisticated MDM (mobile device management) and SSO (single sign on) tools to securely liberate the economic and functional value offered by BYOD (bring your own device) policies.  Make device agnostic software a requirement of your selection process.     

Finally, an overriding question for any mobile transition: How easy is it to get the solution working?  

The answer may surprise you, simply because the range of experiences is so broad.  Before making a final software selection, do some research and learn the mobile experiences of other organizations in your industry.  The best way to separate promises in slick brochures from verified, working mobile solutions is to hear and evaluate the actual user journeys.  Vetting the best-in-class applications and eliminating any that have “failed to launch” will simplify the search.   

Organizations making mobility a priority in their EAM selection, are thinking strategically.  If you are not sure where to start, reach out to an experienced mobile solution provider.  Learn more about the full range of transformative opportunities enabled through mobility before finalizing your EAM choice.