What is Asset Management Data and Why is it Critical?

Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) involves the maintenance of an organization’s assets.  EAM data includes information on physical assets, their locations, maintenance activities, and items needed to support maintenance, repair, and operations (also known as MRO).

Accurate EAM data is critical is to make sure assets for the business are recorded correctly. Among other things, high quality data ensures that the business can purchase the right goods to maintain and repair equipment and operations throughout production. It is important to manage the master level data and the data that falls under it so that the accessibility of a specific asset can be easy to search and to proceed with the necessary precautions for their business to thrive.

Choosing Dynamics 365 for Asset Management

This steel manufacturer chose Dynamics 365 as their Asset Management solution so that they could better support and operate their business in a tech-savvy and flexible environment. Innovations in process automation available in Dynamics 365 will accelerate business activities and increase efficiency of maintenance activities. Dashboards makes it possible for the buisness to discover patterns and trends relating to asset management and drives insights that ultimately help the business minimize costs, maximize profits, and grow the business.

Reverse Engineering the EAM Solution

Due to complexities in the legacy data and stringent requirements in Dynamics 365, the System Integrator for the project suggested a manual approach for entering EAM data.  The manual approach would require multiple rounds of time-consuming data entry for the business.  Worse still, the data entry activity would land on the critical path of the project and detract from other critical activities. Fortunately, this steel company has Premier International as their data migration partner, and we knew there was a better way.

Initial EAM data loads into Dynamics 365 was a challenge. The business and the system integrator needed Premier’s supports to connect the dots between legacy data structures and the target formats in Dynamics.  After running into load errors and discovering missing configuration, the Premier team decided to reverse engineer data structures in Dynamics 365 and build the conversions based on this analysis.  This approach included manual entry of test data into Dynamics 365, exporting back out the test data, and trial and error adjustments throughout the process. The Premier team first went into a test load environment and exported over 120 data entities related to Asset Management. After this exhaustive process, we analyzed and reviewed every exported data file to uncover connections to in-scope fields. This enabled us to find missing data entities and data configurations that needed to be loaded to minimize load errors and issues. We identified 15 entities and configurations that helped to avoid the load issues we initially encountered. We shared our findings with the system integrator and closed remaining gaps through default values approved by the business.

Leveraging Unconventional Data Sources

The business was able to provide us spreadsheets outlining an Asset Hierarchy for each specific site. Data included main locations, main assets, child assets, instruction list for specific activities to be conducted, and more. We built logic into the import application to analyze the asset hierarchy and greatly reduce the amount of time the client needed to spend on the spreadsheet.  This exercise helped set the foundation of for how this Asset Hierarchy would be displayed. The initial design would have been a challenge, very time consuming, and ultimately would have delayed tests and validations.  Our agile handling of this new data source minimized rework for the client.  Because of the time we saved, we strategically expanded scope to include MRO Product Items and Asset BOM (Bill of Materials) data entities to better serve growing client needs.

Surprise Challenges

Surprise challenges emerged while loading EAM into Dynamics 365.  While loading Functional Locations and Assets, there was an issue where the unique assets were duplicating in the Asset View page. Although the correct asset appeared with its unique Maintenance Asset ID, duplicate child data appeared with no information besides the Asset Name. Thanks to the speed at which we could load and validate data, this was quickly identified and resolved.

To minimize further unwanted surprises, validation steps were incorporated into the conversion process to ensure that spreadsheets inputs would not cause errors during the creation of the data extracts. Some of these validation checks included making sure a child asset level was not skipped, and that the asset hierarchy was logically consistent. Other validations checked against Dynamics 365 configuration, uniqueness constraints, and associations with related modules.

Success Today and for Years to Come

Premier's data migration approach made it possible to go live with high quality data. Since go live, the client is now able to use the full suite of Microsoft Dynamics's features, including many that will reduce maintenance costs and preemptively solve production problems.  In addition, the facility now has a reliable source of truth for Enterprise Asset Management data, compared to the problematic data contained in their outdated previous system.  The new cloud solution will serve the business for many years to come.