The array of monikers by which vendors label their similar categories of business software solutions is mind-boggling. It’s the same when it comes to software aimed at asset-heavy industries for managing the maintenance and repair of physical capital high-value assets; things like plant and machines, equipment and vehicles. There are ‘Computerized Maintenance Management Software’ (CMMS) apps, ‘Enterprise Asset Management’ (EAM) solutions, and ‘Field Service Management’ (FSM) suites. Vendors of these solutions include ‘best-of-breed’ niche specialists like Mendix, as well as ERP vendors (Oracle, SAP, Infor and others) offering asset maintenance as a bolt-on component to their enterprise application suites.
In an attempt to clear things up, let’s look at the different options. We’ll also explore where Mendix FSM sits within the field.
‘Best-of-Breed’ vendor or ERP ‘Do-it-All’?
First off, if your company has already gone down the strategic ERP suite path, then it’s probably logical to consider the vendor’s asset management and maintenance offering, if it has one. On the one hand, it could be just what you need, and may offer integration with the rest of the suite for your business. But on the other, you’d best compare functionality, breadth, and depth with best-of-breed vendor solutions. You’ll want to identify too, how neat a fit the ERP asset maintenance app is with the rest of the ERP suite. Is it developed from the ground up to be fully integrated or is it a recent bolt on, with dodgy data exchange capabilities still to be improved on and completed?
Consider also which approach, best-of-breed or ERP, offers the better fit to your preferred and competitively unique ways of working. Which offers more freedom to customize? Which better matches your budget?
For some the ERP route will make sense. For many others, best-of-breed will provide a much better fit. Let’s move on and look at some terminology.
CMMS, EAM, FSM
CMMS takes us back a few years to when software tended to comprise specialist vendor offerings of single apps. These were generally designed specifically for supporting just a few specific tasks, like maintenance schedules and work orders. As customers sought more however, and as computing power evolved, vendor offerings evolved too.
CMMS has grown up, today becoming part of EAM and FSM suites. All are aimed at optimizing enterprise asset life-cycle performance balanced with cost-effective maintenance operations. Assets might be in-house or situated remotely, owned by the company or by the customers of a third-party field service management operation.
Today, these solutions are core business applications and cover many asset management needs. From maintenance planning, scheduling and work order management, to technician/people/skill management, and from predictive and risk-based maintenance, to automated spares, tools and materials procurement. Many solutions also offer real-time remote monitoring apps via IoT-based sensors attached usually to more expensive or critical plants and equipment. These apps report abnormal operating behaviors that might require an engineer to investigate urgently.
Mendix FSM is an adaptive suite, consisting of kickstarter app templates. When comparing Mendix FSM with EAM solutions and other FSM suites, whether from ERP vendors or best-of-breed, an essential consideration must always be ease of customization. Your current asset management processes have been developed expertly over time to fit your needs. (And if you’re a field service provider, these set you apart from your competition). Assuming these home-grown processes work well, you’ll not want to be forced to implement standard processes imposed by the app.
Mendix FSM comprises what we’ve termed ‘kickstarter’ apps. These are functioning templates our (or your) developers can quickly adapt to perfectly fit your operational uniqueness. This is possible because we’ve built Mendix FSM in the Mendix low-code development environment and not via traditional code. Perfectly crafted, perfectly fitting functionality. Up and running and delivering value in weeks, not months.
One more thing. Once live, you’ll not want to discover a year down the line, that you’re unable to adopt change, placed in a straight jacket by an inflexible piece of software. Here, Mendix FSM stands out again. Being adaptive, you can re-craft functionality, look and feel, to accommodate changing needs.
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In the past, there were two options for software development. Start from scratch and build it yourself or be forced into a straightjacket of standardization and buy it off-the-shelf. We’ve combined the best of both worlds by developing customizable templates.
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