The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

Many of today’s companies are well-positioned to do business internationally and must constantly find new ways to improve the effectiveness of their operations. Regardless of the industry, assets of all types must be managed in a way that maximizes the return on investment. The adoption of new digital platforms has helped businesses realize this expectation to extract greater value from their equipment and other assets.

The global market for enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions is expected to grow at a rate of 17% per year over the next decade. Part of the push for new software is a transition to cloud-based platforms and streamlined systems that are easily integrated with other programs. These new EAM systems make it easier to view important data, organize workflows, and manage maintenance activities for a wide variety of different asset types. The overall benefit of these EAM tools is an improved return on investment (ROI) for the organization.

Throughout this guide, we will take an in-depth look at the EAM software landscape, how these platforms work, and how to implement a solution that will provide the greatest benefit for your company.

We’ll discuss:

EAM vs. CMMS

The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

With hundreds of asset management software solutions on the market, it can be difficult to understand the differences between the various types of solutions. The two major software types in this space are EAMs and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). Both of these systems have a similar purpose in helping companies manage their assets. The major difference between them is related to their scope.

A CMMS platform is generally focused only on maintenance management as the core functionality. EAM systems, on the other hand, take a more comprehensive approach and usually offer additional features such as cost analysis, fleet management, and support for digital and physical assets. There will often be overlap between features when comparing EAM and CMMS software solutions, so it’s important to focus on your core needs during any evaluation.

How Enterprise Asset Management Works

The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

The major reason to use an EAM platform is the ability to manage the entire lifecycle of each of your assets. Being able to track so many details in a single location helps keep your team aligned and avoids confusion. In order to understand how an EAM functions, we need to take a look at the major components that are core features of most systems.

Budget Management

To determine the total cost for each asset that you own, it is necessary to track various costs associated with maintaining and operating each asset. Most EAMs allow you to enter purchasing, maintenance, repair, service, and other spending figures. In many cases, you can also integrate your EAM with other financial software tools and manage budgets for each individual asset, as well as for your service and facility teams overall.

Lifecycle Management

An EAM can help guide your team through each of the major phases involved with an asset’s lifecycle. There is so much more to be mindful of than simply purchasing and decommissioning your equipment. Some of the key asset lifecycle steps that can be tracked in an EAM include:

  • Planning
  • Procurement
  • Installation
  • Operation
  • Maintenance
  • Transfers
  • Decommissioning
  • Sale, storage, or disposal

The ability to monitor costs and work orders associated with each phase of the process can help you and your team make more informed decisions along the way. Because requirements can vary for each business and industry, many of the entry fields and other details within the system can be customized.

Analytics and Reporting

The large amount of data stored within an EAM software platform can be used to analyze nearly any aspect of your business. You can add your own key performance indicators (KPIs) and track metrics that are most relevant to your specific operation. It is also possible to generate reports to review with management and identify areas of improvement.

Contract Management

Especially for large pieces of industrial equipment and other specialized tools, there may be a number of different contracts that must be managed. These can include software, service, and supply chain agreements. An EAM keeps them together so you can access your essential information at any time and share updates with clients, employees, and vendors.

Maintenance Management

One of the modules that strongly overlaps with CMMS platforms, maintenance management helps you track work orders, costs, and inventory associated with equipment and asset upkeep. Some software tools allow you to analyze and estimate schedules related to preventive, predictive, and corrective maintenance work. Your maintenance team can also use the system to track spare parts inventory while also organizing tools and supplies.

Work Order Management

Work orders are used to organize activities among personnel and contractors that interface with your assets. This is one process that really benefits from the automation provided by many EAM systems. For example, when a problem is identified, a work order can be automatically assigned to the right resource without delay or needing to use a different system.

Labor Management

Keeping track of your assets is one thing, but keeping track of employees can be just as challenging. Managing work hours and priorities is much easier with an EAM platform due to the integrated schedules and ability to make real-time assignments.

Benefits of an EAM System

The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

A successful software implementation should reduce work steps and make your operation more efficient. Since an EAM can provide easy access to information with a scan or a few clicks, there is little downtime or delay. When integrated with scanning hardware and a series of barcode labels and tags, asset management can be automated for a truly streamlined approach. These are some of the important ways that an EAM deployment can help your operation:

  • Greater Efficiency. As mentioned above, scheduling work orders, managing maintenance activities, and allocating resources can all be done from within your single EAM dashboard. Not only does this save time for your staff, but it can also greatly reduce the time between tasks and eliminate delays across departments.
  • Workflow Integration. When considering a new system, most companies will already have several hardware and software tools in use. Similar to an enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform, an EAM can usually be integrated with multiple other tools for comprehensive oversight across your entire organization. The core function of enterprise asset management is to act as the central repository for all information related to your assets.
  • Improved Accuracy. Maintaining accurate inventory and asset counts requires performing regular checks of key stock levels. Since asset barcode labels can be placed on each item and entered into an EAM database, it is possible to quickly scan and verify units at any time.
  • Inventory/Asset Control. Especially for distributed fleets such as vehicles or field equipment, maintaining control over your property can be difficult. By standardizing an asset identification number and barcode for each unit, you can quickly identify each item and easily transfer assets between sites or update their status in real-time.
  • Compliance. Many industries, such as military and defense, have strict requirements for the tracking of sensitive and potentially dangerous assets. Others, like the pharmaceutical industry, have stringent rules that apply to lot tracing and historical records. An EAM can most certainly be used as a key resource during audits.

Who Has a Need For EAM?

The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

Most businesses could benefit from an EAM software platform, but certain roles within an organization will find these resources particularly helpful. Anyone involved with resource budgeting, allocation, and management will often use an EAM for planning purposes. Along with this example, here are some additional roles that are often associated with asset management:

  • Executive Management. Making informed decisions is much easier when you have accurate data in front of you. The cost and budgeting figures that an EAM calculates for each asset can be used to set goals and establish department priorities.
  • Asset Managers. These roles are especially critical for businesses such as airports and utilities that have large asset fleets in constant operation. An EAM provides these managers with real-time data regarding the status of equipment and the locations where work is being performed.
  • Project Managers. A project manager will often use an EAM to review schedules related to parts and equipment that may be needed for the work they are overseeing. The planning features are also helpful for assigning resources for work that will be needed to prepare for new construction and installations.
  • IT Managers. One specific subset of EAM software is referred to as IT Asset Management (ITAM). These platforms are focused on the needs of IT teams but, in many cases, an IT department can utilize a traditional EAM to monitor their software contracts, hardware, and other assets.
  • Facilities Managers. The facilities manager plays a vital role in keeping a building running smoothly. There is maintenance work to coordinate and HVAC, furniture, and other hardware to be monitored. Managers who oversee warehouses or production facilities may also use an EAM to schedule and track work related to several of these different areas.

Selecting the Right EAM Platform

The Ultimate Guide to EAM: How EAMs Work, Benefits, and Choosing the Right EAM Solution for Your Needs

Choosing an EAM platform is certainly a team effort. Since these software systems connect so many different departments, it is crucial to start with a comprehensive planning process. No two EAM software programs will be exactly alike, and there may be major differences even within the same family of products. These are a few of the most critical steps that can help you select an EAM program that will meet all of your most critical needs:

  1. Needs Assessment. Since an EAM platform can be used for so many different activities, it often makes sense to start with only your highest priority needs. An EAM can also be implemented along with other facility improvements such as asset tagging or warehouse automation, so it may be important to review these requirements, as well.
  2. Hardware and Software Inventory. Taking stock of your existing systems will help you verify any issues with compatibility. It is also a good idea to understand any overlap in capabilities as you will have to choose how best to use each tool.
  3. Mobility Planning. Since so many EAM platforms today are cloud-based, it’s an excellent opportunity to provide your staff with real-time data from any device. Make sure that your chosen software is compatible with the mobile hardware you support and that your team will have access to the information they require.
  4. Scaling and Integration. The best enterprise software packages are highly scalable, with plans that can be tailored to changing needs over time. Always plan for future growth and verify that your EAM program is highly customizable and can be integrated with your core software tools.
  5. ROI Assessment. Perhaps the most important measurement of a successful EAM deployment is a robust return on investment (ROI). After completing the other steps of your planning process, always check your financial projections to see if your expected payback matches your expectations.

These are just a few of the many considerations that a team needs to make prior to implementing a new EAM platform. Making a formal move to true enterprise asset management is a major commitment and one that will often lead to substantial cost savings and operational efficiencies.

With careful planning, you can create a truly dependable asset management program. It is an exciting time with so many EAM options available in the market, and you’re likely to find one that suits your requirements. By familiarizing yourself with the important components of an EAM and the differences between similar software packages, you can make an informed decision and help manage the costs of your system deployment.

Further Reading About Enterprise Asset Management

To learn more about asset management and EAM systems, visit the following resources:

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