Integrating GIS and SAP 2/10: Reduce Data Maintenance with Automation

, Last updated on January 17th, 2022 at 3:09 pm by Ed Hudak, et al.


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This is the second in a series of 10 articles addressing the benefits of integrating a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) system with SAP®.

Make sure you have complete data about a given asset – even if that data comes from multiple systems.

Inefficiencies of Dual Asset Maintenance

Manually maintaining two asset management programs (like GIS and SAP®) to manage a common group of assets often leads to trouble. It’s easy for the two systems to become out of sync, with neither system able to present an accurate view of a given asset.

This can negatively impact:

  • Asset maintenance programs
  • Compliance reporting
  • Confidence in the asset data

Regulatory bodies often request reports from companies. Putting together the reports requires compiling data from multiple sources. Those sources need to agree.

For example, if a pipeline company can’t accurately respond with how many miles of pipe they have in the ground, the regulatory body may audit them to ensure the rest of their data is accurate.

GIS Data Adds Value

The value of a GIS system is the spatial/location data it generates and tracks for each asset. SAP’s Geo Enablement Framework allows SAP to visualize the location of an asset, as well as any work happening on or around it.

But Also Adds Work

But that added ability comes at the cost of now having to maintain GIS data in two places. Do your GIS professionals have access to maintain spatial data in SAP? Or do you require your SAP users maintain the GIS data?

Bad Data Can Prevent Use of Advanced EAM Features

Either way, it’s a manual process and bad data is a likely result.

Bad data will prevent you from implementing more advanced cost-savings programs like mobile work management. You can’t effectively plan the routes for field maintenance crews using outdated GIS data.

Or Lead to Fines

Some industries – like natural gas transmission – assign assets to different maintenance cycles based on proximity to other structures.

Out of date or incomplete location data may lead to an asset being assigned the wrong maintenance plan. The asset would then miss an inspection, which would put the company out of compliance, and they’d risk getting fined.

How EAM Data Goes Bad

Dual maintenance of asset data leads to out of sync data in several ways:

  • One data group updates their system but the other group never hears about the update.
  • One group has enough data to move forward, but the other needs to wait for clarifications.
  • Employees using informal or undocumented processes to update data take new jobs.
  • Human error.

Automation to the Rescue

The best way to mitigate these data integrity risks is by using an automated SAP-GIS interface, which offers a single place to enter data.

Most of the data should only need to be entered into either the SAP or GIS system – not both. Once validated, the data can then be sent through the interface to the other system in an automated fashion. This ensures both systems stay synchronized and reduces the complexity of maintaining two systems.

One Group Owns asset Data

Typically, one group will take over most the data maintenance duties. This allows of asset information, as-built, and installation documentation to be consolidated into a single group charged with data integrity across the whole system.

Each system will still require data specialists, but they can spend less time keeping data synchronized and more time doing data validation and verification.

Not a Magic Bullet

Keep in mind, however, that simply putting an interface between SAP and GIS will not solve all of an organization’s data quality issues. Data quality and maintenance is a never-ending process requiring constant review and improvement.

Catch and Correct

We like to implement a “Catch and Correct” program using the SAP’s Work Manager mobile application to allow users in the field to verify data about an asset including serial number, specifications, manufacturer information, etc. – all while standing right in front of the asset.

If data discrepancies are found, the asset is flagged, correct values are entered for review, and the data is eventually corrected in both GIS and SAP. Having the ability to review and enter data on a mobile interface makes the whole process easier.

Data is King

In enterprise asset management, data is king. An organization can deploy all the technology it can afford and apply unwavering dedication to their business processes, but if the data isn’t accurate and complete, everything falls apart.

Mercury from Rizing

We saw so much business value in a GIS/SAP interface that we built one.

Rizing’s Mercury is a bi-directional interface that simplifies and accelerates integrations between SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS). With Mercury, teams can organize and simplify asset management projects, synchronize data between systems, and manage asset data through its lifecycle.

Read more about Mercury.

Chapters in this Series:

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