SAP and its alternatives –
assessment from a maintenance perspective

Gartner’s Best of EAM solutions Infor EAM (Hexagon) and IBM Maximo work very well with SAP ERP thanks to their interfaces. What do typical integration scenarios look like? Assessments from a maintenance perspective.

SAP und seine Alternativen - Einschätzung aus Instandhaltungs-Sicht Rodias GmbH

In the course of digitization, many companies have standardized areas such as accounting, human resources and purchasing through to logistics on a central business software. For large companies, SAP offers the SAP Business Suite and the latest SAP /4Hana application, as well as the Business One software packages for SMEs, which provide a useful and comprehensive range of functions. SAP is one of the world’s leading providers of ERP systems and is also very popular in other areas. Many companies can no longer imagine the future without the products of the Walldorf-based system house. There is also a separate SAP PM module for the maintenance sector, which is increasingly being used.

Market leader in the field of enterprise asset management systems

Every year, the market research company Gartner evaluates the technology markets and their development on the basis of various criteria. The results, i.e. the positioning of the various providers of IT solutions on the respective market, are presented in the form of the Magic Quadrant. Various enterprise asset management solutions are also regularly evaluated, taking into account quality, integration options, support and the mapping of industry processes.


For years, two leaders have emerged in the Magic Quadrant as convincing maintenance planning systems with their broad range of functions, flexibility and product quality: Hexagon Infor EAM and IBM Maximo. Both are consistently at the top in the Leader / Visionary category. So if you want a highly flexible, easily adaptable maintenance tool to which different existing systems can be connected quickly and securely, one of these systems is a very good choice.


This also applies if SAP is already available in-house and a lot of relevant data is available in a well-structured form. All the better: integration between SAP and an IBM Maximo or even the Infor EAM is possible without any problems. The usual procedure for such an integration, which is based on the experience of numerous customer projects, is illustrated below using the IBM system as an example.

Integration between SAP ERP and IBM Maximo with the Integration Framework

The Maximo Integration Framework (MIF), for example, is a powerful tool that guarantees both speed and security against data loss. There is a ready-made SAP adapter specifically for the SAP connection, which already contains many typical configurations and defines a basic “direction of travel”. This adapter is particularly interesting for companies that want to use many of the preconfigured interfaces and are using SAPPI or SAP PO. In all other cases, the standard MIF offers sufficient functionalities and SAP-Maximo integration is usually implemented via web services or HTTP posts. However, solutions via file exchange or RMI are also possible.


The great thing is that the integration remains invisible to the users themselves. They only work in a single system and have all the information they need at their fingertips. Maximo also offers various control and monitoring mechanisms for the administrators of the EAM system. With the help of special applications, either all or specially filtered messages can be logged, interface messages can be adapted as required and reprocessed at the touch of a button. The Maximo Integration Framework thus optimally supports the ongoing monitoring of data exchange.


At the same time, the MIF can be configured analogously for many other integration scenarios and different types of data exchange, regardless of whether it is meter data or the creation of an outage message via a control system. In one customer scenario, for example, the system has been running stably for years with 56 interfaces and 17 different third-party systems.


The Maximo Integration Framework works with common data formats and protocols in synchronous or asynchronous mode. Integration usually involves three main stages:

  1. Data content (object structure) – This defines which objects and attributes are to be exchanged in principle.
  2. Data exchange – This defines whether it is an outgoing interface (publication channel) or an incoming company service.
  3. Communication – Protocols and formats for exchange with other systems (queues, handlers and endpoints)


IBM Maximo and SAP – typical integration scenarios

Necessary interfaces are usually divided into three areas: Master data, purchasing processes and materials management. Master data is usually already available in the SAP system. They can simply be imported into a maintenance program. In detail, these are, for example, account assignment components (cost centers, accounts, WBS elements, CO internal orders, etc.), material master, suppliers and info records. (see Figure 1)

Image 1 SAP English

The SAP system is usually responsible for purchasing and invoicing processes. Usually, requirements also arise in maintenance, e.g. for spare parts and services. To ensure that employees only have to work with one system, purchase requisitions are usually written in IBM Maximo and transferred to SAP after technical approval. The purchase orders created here are then transferred back to Maximo. This ensures that the maintenance staff are informed about all orders and delivery times and can therefore plan their work better.

Incoming goods and services are usually posted in the system in which the user works. This can be either SAP or Maximo. What is important in this case is the posting basis – the purchase order. The receipts for direct orders and services are also reported directly to the work orders so that the material and service expenses can be evaluated and posted correctly in terms of costs. The final process step – invoicing – is typically posted in SAP and transferred from there to Maximo. The invoice posting completes the cost information for the work orders and assets (see Fig. 2)

Figure 2 SAP English

Materials management can be set up in SAP or Maximo
Maintenance staff need various spare parts, consumables and supplies for their daily work. To do this, they create corresponding reservations using new work orders, which are transferred to the existing materials management system. In most cases, companies already use SAP for warehouse management. It is then easier to start right there. This is where the typical material transactions such as material issues, returns, stock transfers and stock corrections, e.g. for inventories, are carried out. They can then be transferred to Maximo in full or only as a result (= warehouse stock) (see Fig. 3).

Figure 3 SAP English

The processes mapped in IBM Maximo are based on decades of industry experience that optimally implement maintenance requirements. End-to-end integration, particularly with materials management and purchasing in the leading ERP system, avoids multiple entries and redundant data storage and contributes to a high level of acceptance. According to numerous customers, the usability of an IBM Maximo is much more intuitive, easier to operate and more individually adaptable to use for more technically minded people. In addition, the expansion of functionalities in the IBM and Infor systems is described as much easier.

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