When it comes to software solutions there is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all”. Each software solution has its strengths and weaknesses. Companies are investing in portfolios of software products to manage their day-to-day operations.
An important criterion in selecting an enterprise asset management (EAM) solution is how the new system will allow business continuity with minimal disruption. In addition to ensuring that the new EAM solution is customizable and has all the functionalities needed to support business processes, this aspect covers areas such as data migration and integration with third party software. In many EAM system implementation projects with asset-intensive organizations, integration with existing software is an important part of the scope. End users usually require integration with BI software, fuel management systems, document management systems and enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. The latter will be the central point of this article, in which we will discuss the capabilities of IBM Maximo Asset Management as it relates to integration with ERP systems, as well as the approach to ensure the integration design meets all its objectives, and delivers seamless integration between the two systems.
Benefits of a Sound Maximo-ERP Integration
In the framework of Maximo integrating with ERP systems, it is common to have Maximo handle the physical asset management and the ERP systems exclusively manage the financials: rolling cost to general ledger systems, receivables and payables, and cash management. In such a scenario, the main benefit of the integration is the data accuracy between the two systems. This implies several other objectives to ensure data flows as expected between Maximo and the ERP system:
Flow of information: The information—be it master data or transactional data—is shared seamlessly across the two systems.
Synchronization frequency: Both systems are synchronized in a frequency that allows business continuity without any interruption, and minimal to no waiting time.
Accuracy of data: The exchange of data between the two systems is accurate with no duplication.
Time saving for end users: Relevant information is kept in their respective systems, which will reduce information redundancy and prevent entering the information in multiple systems.
Challenges to EAM and ERP Integration
The variety of systems and databases has always added some complexity in integrating EAM and ERP systems. With the modernization of tools and technology, organizations can overcome these problems up to a certain extent. Below are some key challenges organizations usually come across when planning these integrations.
Deciding on the right EAM and ERP integration strategy;
Maintaining EAM and ERP integrations;
Standardizing data across systems;
Incorporating and managing customizations.
ERP systems normally manage the organization's financials. When using EAM software, a portion of those financials related to asset management activities (e.g., maintenance, repair and operations, materials management, and purchasing) are initiated and tracked in the EAM system. To ensure that costs are correctly allocated so vendors are paid and cost information is passed on to the ERP system, both systems must be integrated.
Important Tips to Integrate EAM and ERP systems
Define what processes will look like beforehand for both EAM and ERP systems. Identifying a functional flow of information prior to undertaking the integration will help reduce configuration costs (and ultimately project costs) and stay within project timelines.
Ensure that all financials related to asset management activities, such as inventory and purchasing records, will be transferred to the ERP system in a timely manner and not just tracked within the EAM system.
Make sure that inventory, purchasing, maintenance and engineering reside in one system, preferably the EAM, but are still integrated with other financial data.
The Maximo Integration Process
Regardless of the ERP provider, the steps required to address this integration process are the same. We should look at the “What,” “When” and “How.” The “What” addresses the datasets that need to be shared across both systems. The “When” covers the timing and frequency of the data exchange. The “How” covers the tools Maximo uses to implement the integration.
Define the Datasets that Need to Be Shared (the “What”)
In a Maximo integration, there are two types of data to consider: master data and transactional data.
Master data usually includes the following sets: Organizations, Sites, Companies, General Ledger (GL) Components, Materials, Storerooms, Currency Codes, Exchange Rates, etc. The first step is to define what set of master data will be part of the integration. Next is to determine the direction of the flowof information of each integration point. This means, for each integration point, that one system will be the “Master” and the other will be the “Slave.” The data is created and maintained in the “Master” system and are made available to the “Slave” system after synchronization. Some datasets can be shared and maintained by both systems. The table below is an illustration of the potential outcome of a master data integration point definition.
Flow of information
After the master data definition, the transactional datathat will be integrated will have to be identified. Examples of transactional data are purchase requisitions, purchase orders, material and service receipts, invoices, and issues and transfers.
Timing and Frequency of the Data Exchange (the “When”)
After identifying the data that will be part of the integration, and the flow of that data, another important step is to look at the right timing and frequency to synchronize the data between the two systems. The right timing is critical to ensure that each process is completed within the timeframe required by the business. Each process within the organization will drive the frequency of data integration, which can be grouped in two categories: real time or batch integration.
With a real-time integration, an agreed event will trigger the integration action on a specific record. This type of integration is usually used for transactional data where data exchange is required more frequently. One example is the creation of a material requisition in the ERP as soon as a work order with planned material is approved.
In a batch integration, a group of data that meets certain criteria is sent via integration on an agreed frequency. As an example, storeroom datasets can be sent on a weekly basis instead of in real time.
In any case, the business process will drive the choice between real time or batch integration based on the critical nature of the process.
Tools Used for the Maximo Integration with ERP systems (the “How”)
The integration of Maximo with any ERP application is no longer a tedious task with the use of IBM Maximo Integration Framework (MIF).
Maximo Integration Framework supports the sharing of data between Maximo Asset Management and external systems. The Maximo Integration Framework supports the use of REST (Representational State Transfer) application programming interface (API), and the sharing of lifecycle data between applications based on Open Services for Lifecycle Collaboration (OSLC) integration.1
Preconfigured adapters for integration between IBM Maximo and certain enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems such as SAP or Oracle are available from IBM, and may be used if the design consists of reasonably standard processes. However, custom solutions might be used for heavily customized integrations. The graphic below presents an overview of the IBM MIF.
Example of Maximo Integration with PeopleSoft
PeopleSoft is an ERP solution that integrates human capital management (HCM), financial management, supplier relationship management, enterprise services automation, supply chain management and campus solutions modules. It is commonly used by various industries, including cities and municipalities.
By following the approach described above, the table below summarizes an example of dataset definition, flow of information and frequency:
Item Master & Suppliers
Inventory Item & records from PeopleSoft to Maximo Inventory Item supplier records from PeopleSoft to Maximo Add
Service Items & Suppliers
Service Item records from PeopleSoft to Maximo Service Item supplier records from PeopleSoft to Maximo
Inventory record from PeopleSoft with storeroom id
Inventory balance record from PeopleSoft with storeroom id
Send Item Category ID to Maximo Commodity Codes
Work Order Plan record for Inventory Items (Stocked)
Finance/Material & Procurement Management /Maximo User
Work Order Plan record for stocked inventory item with Item Code and Storeroom to PeopleSoft for creating MSR
Work Order Plan Record - MSR update
Finance/Material & Procurement Management /Maximo User
MSR # and status updated on Maximo work plan record
In most EAM implementation projects, integration with existing ERPs is a key activity. IBM Maximo provides the flexibility for a seamless integration using the Maximo Integration Framework, and predefined adapters. Our experts have successfully managed such projects in various industries and with various ERP systems. Let us know about your situation; perhaps we can help!