Mobile data collection and fast SAP reconciliation for end-to-end, modern processes
What is the specific challenge?
Together with the customer, the service department technicians determine the technical condition of the customer's system using a questionnaire (called a "health check"). The catalogue includes questions about the state of materials subject to wear, whether maintenance or even replacement of components is necessary, etc. The check usually takes one day.
These questions were previously summarised in paper catalogues and filled out completely by hand. The quality of the answers varied accordingly and the error potential was very high: data was collected from emails, occasionally by telephone or even by Whatsapp. Sometimes, only the most necessary data arrived and on other occasions, data was collected in excessive detail. The follow-up by the office staff was therefore very time-consuming. Masa Group needed a standardised process.
The smooth integration and connection of the solution into the existing system landscape was the most important requirement for the switch-over. Simplified documentation does not help if emails have to be resent or data has to be transferred manually. For Masa, a standalone solution was out of the question.
The primary system used by Masa is SAP. Additionally, different ticket systems are used for each process. There are always analogue entry points, end points or intermediate steps that need to be closed.
What is the solution?
The health check was the initial operational scenario. The self-created app (smap) based on the modular smapOne app system makes clear specifications regarding which measured value is recorded, which measuring devices, aids and tools are needed and also provides the technician with detailed instructions about the process. After implemntation, they quickly decided to digitalise more analogue work steps. Since then, Masa has implemented many other use cases:
- Time & attendance system: Working hours are recorded several times a day (clocking in and out, break notifications). A customer often has to countersign the hours worked. The data is then sent directly to SAP.
- Holiday request: this is used as required when requesting a holiday.
- Project progress: here, employees record status messages during assembly to give project managers the opportunity to track the progress of the project on a weekly basis.
- Incoming goods, repairs: Employees record materials to be repaired. Previously, employees had to switch between yard and truck several times to record all the information.
- IT equipment hire: When a staff member borrows a device, specially made barcodes on the device (e.g. notebooks) can be quickly recorded, in addition to the personnel numb
- Maintenance of an emergency IT power supply system: The systems are serviced once a month. The data is recorded directly and then automatically transferred to a ticket system.
Many more ideas soon flowed. Staff keep discovering small problems themselves, which are solved quickly and easily using the mini app:
- Material orders
- Requesting office supplies
- Checklists for sales representatives for quotation preparation
SAP integration and flow integration using concrete app examples
Time recording – direct communication with SAP
The smap stores the recorded time data in the cloud database. SAP regularly retrieves this data through the REST API, processes it and automatically marks it as "exported" in the smapOne portal. This process is performed every ten minutes. Records aren't deleted straight away. The second run automatically verifies whether the data was posted correctly to SAP and only then is it deleted from the smapOne portal.
Holiday request – communication using Microsoft Flow
The holiday request process is more complex. Employees use a smap to record time off (normal holidays, educational leave, reduction in balance of holidays, etc.). The data is processed into a structured email using Microsoft Flow and transferred to an internal ticket system. This triggers a ticket, which is sent to the respective supervisor for approval. After the holiday is approved, it is automatically posted to SAP.
Maintenance of an emergency IT power system – communication from the ticket system to smapOne
Once a month, a series ticket is triggered within the internal ticket system.. This automatically creates a task in the relevant smap for an employee. Employees then go to the unit and record the data there. This data is returned to the ticket system through Microsoft Flow in a structured email. After supplying the ticket in the system with the appropriate data, it is closed.
What steps were necessary to implement the integration?
Integration into various systems is a very specific and complex topic. No one can say how long an integration will take or how complex the connection will be. Throughout all steps of integration and introduction, smapOne support Masa: integration checks, training with interface and automation options and deep-dive workshops.
At the start, a joint integration workshop was held to check what options the REST API (documentation) and Microsoft Flow offer and how the systems are structured on the customer's side. An IT employee at Masa then very quickly started building the first smaps and worked hard on the interfaces. Based on this, there was another deep-dive workshop on Microsoft Flow and interfaces. At the same time, regular consultations with the technical consultants and developers of smapOne took place. The project and the communication were implemented in an agile, uncomplicated and transparent manner in both directions. Brief instructions from smapOne provided guidance. In the end, just under four weeks passed between the first talks and the final implementation.
What has improved?
Masa created the greatest added value through the end-to-end solution: from simplified collection to automated transfer of data to existing systems. In addition to SAP, other systems like Microsoft Teams were connected. Information about a successful assembly is automatically posted to Microsoft Teams as status information for field staff or project managers.
Apps for time recording and holiday requests are used most frequently. Here, the collection is much more convenient and user friendly than the previous solution. The health check smap saves almost 30% of time when recording the data and processing it afterwards. Again and again, the same structured result is generated here.
They are now preparing more smaps for the fitters which will contribute to greater efficiency in post-processing.
How does digital transformation work in the company?
At Masa, three creators actively build smaps. Ideas for new smaps currently come from the creators, since other employees couldn't be introduced to smapOne during the Covid19 pandemic. Masa sent all employees to work from home and decided almost overnight to activate the app for time recording for everyone. The employees were encouraged to use the new smaps without any introduction. This worked very well and gradually ideas are coming from the app users themselves.
Masa is now also a beta tester for new functions on the smapOne platform and can thus directly support further development.