Asset Performance Management Software Benchmark: Top Five Insights For Prospective Buyers
During the last three years, software that enables industrial firms to digitize processes for asset health monitoring and to predict impending equipment failures has shifted up the priority list. In the Verdantix 2019 survey of 284 managers in engineering, maintenance and operations roles we found that 48% said APM software is “very significant” for their operational excellence initiatives and 49% said it is “significant”. That’s a 97% vote of confidence. Whilst COVID-19 will dent some spending plans, it has also highlighted the strategic benefit of digitizing asset management. Against this backdrop of continued spending, what are the insights for buyers from our benchmark of 11 APM vendors?
#1. Start by assessing how many APM projects the vendor has deployed in your industry. To succeed with your APM digitization project you need to work with a software vendor with subject matter experts who understand your industry’s asset strategies, processes, regulatory context and equipment failure modes. Verdantix assessed each APM vendor on their ability to provide customer references across 18 asset classes. Buyers need to get into the detail of whether a vendor specializes in oil and gas pipelines, power grids or chemical plants.
#2. Get clarity on the how the solution architecture delivers rapid time to value. Requirements gathering exercises often result in bloated “wish list” RFPs running into multiple tabs in a spreadsheet. When buying asset performance management software, customers should focus on the speed at which a vendor can deliver value in the core usage scenarios: asset health monitoring and asset failure predictions. A clunky solution architecture running on a client/server deployment or an ancient UI is unlikely to deliver rapid time to value.
#3. Engage early with your enterprise architect. Virtually all successful APM software projects are predicated on the existence of process historians and enterprise asset management systems. Without these two foundation stones in place, time to value is much slower. APM software buyers already need to understand the existing IT landscape and get advice on how plant floor data will be ingested and how the APM app will synchronize with the EAM software.
#4. Quiz APM vendors on their customer success and innovation programmes. It’s natural to focus on product functionality but that’s simply an outcome of the product development process. To understand long-term success buyers should assess the quality of the innovation process as this will provide insight for future product releases. Deploying APM software also isn’t a one-shot deal. Often multiple sites need to be fired up and each has different challenges. A structured customer success programme is a huge positive for buyers.
#5. Run a prototype on historic data to test the power of predictive analytics. Machine learning algorithms need to be trained to accurately identify patterns which indicate future asset failure. To understand the accuracy of a vendor’s asset failure prediction engine, buyers should provide process historian data from three months earlier and ask them to ‘predict’ failures which have already happened. Or compare how early different APM solutions can predict the same failure.