SSP Lifecycle, or simply Lifecycle, is multi-purpose, back-office engineering and operations tool that excels as a full-fledged Work Management System (WMS) solution. As is common with any enterprise system implementation, there are typically other enterprise applications deployed that serve as systems of record for data such as Compatible Units and related data such as Labor and Materials. Lifecycle integrates with these systems via its API to share relevant information. This post introduces an example where Lifecycle is integrated with SAP, but it could just as easily describe the interactions between any other enterprise business system from vendors like ABB, CGI and IBM and Oracle.
In a typical utility deployment, SAP provides the capability to store master data like assets, compatible units, material and labor records, equipment records and functional locations. In addition, SAP also provides for job tracking data like notifications, work orders, work breakdown structure (WBS) and crew schedules. This data is best maintained in a central enterprise system because of the broad applicability and impacts to diverse user groups in the utility including accounting, supply chain, customer service, engineering and operations.
When implementing integrated utility technology solutions like mobile work management, inspections and graphic work design, it is necessary to connect with enterprise systems like SAP to retrieve master data and job tracking data. Along with that system of record data that Lifecycle sources from SAP, or similar enterprise business systems, Lifecycle is used as a system of engagement for transactional data that is used for job tracking. Transactional data includes Notification Numbers and/or Work Order Numbers that are generated from SAP but kept in sync with Lifecycle for each unique job that is being tracked and managed as part of the scope of a mobile work management, inspection or graphic work design process workflow.
Lifecycle provides both a simple, smart and streamlined user experience for managing process workflows and a powerful integration framework that supports fit for purpose integrations. Each integration built with Lifecycle is unique with its own challenges which is why Lifecycle is architected to be flexible, extensible and technology agnostic. Every organization has somewhat different needs based on the workflow they are supporting through Lifecycle, but there are common themes.
A common engagement where Lifecycle is talking to SAP would involve work being initiated from either system. If work is generated from Lifecycle, a message is sent to SAP to generate either a Notification or a Work Order and return a Notification Number or a Work Order Number. If work is generated from SAP, SAP sends a message to Lifecycle and Lifecycle returns a Work Request Number to SAP. Once this data exchange is complete, SAP and Lifecycle can then talk to each other and communicate information throughout the rest of the workflow of a job from initiation to completion.
As one progresses through a workflow there are multiple touch points that can be leveraged between the two systems. For instance, Lifecycle can notify SAP when a Notification is approved, and its status needs to be updated in SAP. This transaction in initiated in Lifecycle and seamlessly completed in SAP. Also, since Lifecycle houses all engineering data including compatible unit designs and as-built data, that information can be sent to SAP to update inventory and asset records.
Information exchange with large enterprise business systems can be very complex and sometimes quite daunting. The key to any successful integration is a clear understanding of the goals that need to be achieved and software tools – like SSP Lifecycle – that make the integrated system simple to use. SSP strives to make this process as painless as possible by allowing for flexibility and extensibility at every point of an integrated process workflow involving multiple enterprise systems.