Good information is the holy grail of asset management. Everyone is looking for complete, accurate and up-to-date information to make informed business decisions that will improve asset performance, reduce risk and lower costs.

In this quest, many asset-intensive organizations have invested heavily in asset information systems (i.e., EAM/ERP/CMMS) over the last 20 years. Yet, despite considerable expenditure, organizations complain that benefits have been slow to materialize and are difficult to measure. Managers say they still can’t access the information they need.

If everyone is after it, why is good information still so hard to get? What is missing?

Good asset management information is a product of several things. You often hear people, process and technology cited as key information drivers. That’s true, but there is a fourth piece that is essential for creating good asset management information, yet it is often overlooked. That piece is content.

What Is Enterprise Asset Management Content?

Content refers to static data structures that are stored in the information system. It includes master data, such as the equipment master, materials catalog and vendor master, and coding structures, such as work order types, failure codes and equipment classes. (In general use, content sometimes includes transactional data, such as records of transactions conducted in the software system, or unstructured data, such as documents like manuals, drawings and contracts. In this article, however, content refers specifically to fixed, structured data that is preloaded into the information system.)

Master data provides a standardized library of information about an organization’s assets, materials, vendors and other business objects. Coding structures are used to sort, group and filter data. These two types of content are distinct, but they share a key characteristic: both are loaded into the system as opposed to being created by the system.

An asset information system contains several layers of data. These include content, transactional data, and reports generated by the system from this data. Content is the bottom layer, the base on which transaction records and reports are built.

Enterprise Asset Management Content

Figure 1: Layers of data in an asset information system

Content is foundational because it must be referenced when the system completes other tasks. Thus, developing good content is crucial if you want to pull useful information out of your software.

Content and the EAM Information Pipeline

Content interacts with people, process and technology to create transactional data, such as work orders, pick tickets and purchase orders. Each time a transaction record is created, the system must reference existing system content. Work orders are created on equipment records, for example, and parts are issued from a materials catalog.

As transaction records are created, the system builds up a history of information about asset-related events. This transactional data is the basis for performance measurement and analysis. Mean time between failures (MTBF), equipment failure analysis, reorder point analysis and many other analytical tools rely on transactional data for their insights.

Content and EAM Information Pipeline

Figure 2: The asset information pipeline

In addition to its role in creating transactional data, content also plays a key role in reporting, analytics and system usability. That’s why bad content is so lethal to good information; content is the starting point for everything the software system does.

SwainSmith helps organizations develop rich and actionable EAM content. Fill out the form below or call 828-215-9471 to learn more.

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Tracy Smith

Tracy S. Smith has been helping organizations solve their asset management challenges for 20 years. He is the president of SwainSmith, Inc., an EAM solutions company. He also offers complimentary 30-minute EAM consultations. No sales pitch or a pesky follow-up call. Just straight answers to your questions—and an objective, experienced assessment of your issues and goals.

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