Key Back-End Technology Features of Enterprise Asset Management software solutions – An Interview with Robert Kaehler Part 2

In the second segment of this two-part series, Jackie Luo speaks with Robert Kaehler about the technical features of an enterprise asset management (EAM) software solution. Robert Kaehler has worked with both AssetSmart and Sunflower Systems, and he is also a leadership member of the National Property Management Association (NPA). Kaehler is intimately familiar with the technology behind enterprise asset management systems. Today Jackie Luo and Robert Kaehler are discussing the specific back-end features of EAM software.

Jackie Luo: We talked a lot about mobility, cloud applications, report customization, and ease of data capture for end users of enterprise asset management systems. In order to deliver these features, however, the software needs to have some key back-end technology features. We all know that if the back-end technology is outdated, using “old” software codes or “stale” database architecture, it’s hard to support a “modern and sleek” front end, isn’t it?

Robert Kaehler: You’re not going to have a solid front-end without having a solid back-end. End of story. The first key feature of a solid back-end for an enterprise management system is to have a robust database. The data structures you use to capture information need to include some configurability so that the capturing fields (or user fields) are unique to your organization. That means that the database needs to be structured in a way that is going to do all of the things that are important, capturing the data and being able to report that data back in a relevant context.

What other back-end features do you need in Enterprise Asset Management systems?

Not all of the data that you’re going to collect will necessarily come from direct input, which is why your integration layer needs to be really good. In today’s world, you need to have an open, standards-based integration strategy that uses something like web services. Using a standard protocol within an application programming interface (API) will allow you to quickly and easily expose your data. The key is to integrate your data with a variety of systems.
The cost of a system used to be leveraged 10:1 to integrate an application. That has really flipped to the point where most people want to spend 1:1 on their integration costs versus their software costs. So the integration layer, or API, is important because it enables people to capture information that can be used throughout the organization’s different systems. The procurement system can send information to the asset management system regarding what is being bought from where and for how much.. The asset management system can then send the financial information to the financial system, and then information may run back through the system once the purchase has been made, so that you can capture depreciation expenses throughout the relevant systems using enterprise-level architecture.

What is enterprise-level architecture?

Both hardware- and software-based architecture allows you to deploy integration and scale it appropriately within your organization. This architecture is best if it supports multiple ways of deployment, such as deployment behind the firewall on a customer’s side (service software) or deployment within applications from a secure data center. You need to have the capability to deploy, and therefore your underlying technology to support those different paradigms is critical.

How is reporting affected by the back-end?

Reporting is on the front-end and on the back-end. On the front-end, reporting is about compiling and displaying the information for someone to see and use. Reporting is really important on the back-end; it’s all about generating reports quickly and being able to look at the data. To get the speed that you’re looking for on the back-end, you need a robust report generator. Employees don’t want to waste 10 minutes for a report to run.

Back-end technology features provide the ability to easily interface with enterprise asset management systems and are responsible for the speed of data retrieval. While back-end features may seem like the more boring elements of asset management software solutions, the back-end is what supports the front-end and makes the productivity and efficiencies possible.

As a recognized futurist in the field of asset management, Robert Kaehler’s expertise has been used by numerous businesses and government agencies to significantly increase asset visibility and improve strategic intelligence of all enterprise assets. He is an acknowledged expert in helping enterprises deploy lifecycle asset management from both financial and process perspectives, along with the application of best business practices to internal systems and procedures.

Kaehler started Ascot Associates in July 2009 to help organizations optimize their physical asset management processes and systems. Leveraging strategic planning and performance measurement processes as a focal point, we provide business software, technology solutions, and expert services for the lifecycle management of assets and property. Ascot also provides change management, training and implementation services. Prior to forming Ascot, Kaehler served as Senior Vice President for AssetSmart, and in three years led the company to a tripling of revenues. He spent the prior five years as General Manager of Sunflower Systems, and was responsible for growing the company from a two-person development shop to a recognized leader in asset management systems. Prior to Sunflower, Kaehler was Vice President and General Manager of US operations and a member of the Board of Directors at Proactive Systems where he grew the company’s revenues 1500% in three years. After Proactive Systems was acquired by JetForm Corporation, Kaehler led the team responsible for Jetform’s business throughout the western United States. He also served as vice president of marketing for Pantechnic, Inc., and held management positions with Citicorp and Manufacturers Hanover. Kaehler holds a degree in economics from Pepperdine University.

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