Over three days at the 2021 Mainstream EAM conference, we heard perspectives covering asset types as broad as ancient Roman aqueducts to the NZ rugby team and topics ranging from best practice lubrication through to how advanced weather monitoring can be incorporated into predictive maintenance.

The conference focuses on Enterprise Asset Management and brings in asset, reliability, and maintenance managers from a wide range of industries looking to discuss systems, processes, and most importantly network with each other.

Throughout the three days of interactive meet-ups and presentations, it was interesting to hear the number of sessions that touched on foundational ERP EAM solution upgrades to all businesses to move with technology and take advantage of intelligent asset management trends such as Industry 4.0, Blockchain, and advanced analytics. Organizations looking to make such a significant investment to upgrade or replace their systems have a very large decision at hand. Do they use the opportunity to re-engineer their business along with their IT landscape or aim to disrupt the business as little as possible during the upgrade?

Mainstream demonstrated some well-documented examples of IT transformation projects for EAM that have paved the way for some extremely successful businesses. There are some equally famous projects that have not turned out as well. Large-scale IT transformation projects are common where an organization is looking to replace an old ‘burning platform’ or consolidate systems while re-engineering their business process to tie in closer to what is considered best practice. Transformation projects will always have a place and there are significant immediate benefits. A brand new IT solution brings the opportunity to jumpstart organizational change and automation of processes. The real opportunity following an IT upgrade lies in the future roadmap for organizations that can take advantage of their refreshed platform to build intelligent technologies. For EAM that includes data collaboration, predictive maintenance, and real-time insights through industry 4.0.

The upgrade and consolidation of operating and maintenance systems for a company will often drive them down the path of a large-scale transformation however this complete transformation approach is in direct contrast to the direction of many companies looking to upgrade their SAP ERP solutions to SAP S/4HANA these days. Some do not have an appetite or indeed the need to pull apart and rebuild their organizational systems and processes in the name of an IT upgrade.

It is so important for an organization to thoroughly weigh up the pros and cons of performing a full-scale transformation (often coupled with a greenfield implementation) versus a lift-and-shift approach (brownfield) which is usually quicker and cheaper but forgoes improvement or re-alignment opportunities.

The following poll was run at the Mainstream attendees, and it was interesting to see that the responders were evenly split as to the approach their companies are planning to take.

Of course, there is no correct answer – each scenario is different however the opportunity is too great to take this decision lightly. Some have the need and the desire to rebuild instead of upgrade – while many others want their upgrade performed to future-proof their platform without the disruption to their business. To work through this process, it is essential to not only consider the current business state, the streamlining opportunity, and of course, the budget but to look in-depth at the potential capability and benefits that can be unlocked through the new system whether it be improved user experience, increased or automated functionality, better performance or the outsourcing of infrastructure and platform to a service-based model.

Mainstream Poll Where on the continuum do you sit for an upgrade

For a relatively small investment upfront, an organization can perform a high-level strategic assessment to take stock of what is working well and what processes need re-engineering, if legacy complexity can be removed and how the full potential of an S4 HANA ERP solution can be reached.

Read more about what we learned at Mainstream in Enterprise Asset Management: Highlights from Mainstream 2021.


About the Author: Marty Trembath is a business development manager at Rizing – focused on showcasing Rizing’s wealth of experience across Asset Management-related SAP projects. He works with customers to identify and solve problems within their maintenance processes to ensure they are achieving optimal returns on their assets and IT spend.