LEM Solutions - Driven by Mpower Software
A leading oil & gas owner/operator recently implemented Ascertra’s Mpower project controls software to manage their entire site Labor-Equipment-Materials (LEM) data collection, validation, approval and processing at their Fort McMurray, Alberta facility. This was a very important and strategic project for Ascertra as the LEM solution is not only a localized solution but one being positioned as a corporate standard for LEMs management – therefore opening global doors.
History and Business Challenge
The specific customer uses SAP as its back-end business management system. Traditionally all of their sub-contractor costs for LEMs were uploaded into SAP via Service Entries. This old process was very manual, prone to errors, inefficient, and failed to deliver the level of information and controls required to manage ongoing operations and projects. Recognizing these deficiencies, the owner/operator’s challenge was to implement:
- A ‘front-end’ solution which could collect, validate and approve all LEMs at a controlled level
- A solution which could be fully integrated with SAP and enforce all of the SAP business rules, e.g. DOA (delegation of authority) approval limits and PO expiry dates.
- A solution which could be fully integrated with the SAP Purchase Order and Outline Agreement sub-systems, thereby delivering full job costing data to the LEM Approvers
- A solution which could be embraced by sub-contractors by making the administration of LEMs easier and the overall management process more automated and efficient
Ascertra’s Mpower software was the system of choice.
Ongoing Operations and Projects
Historically the LEMs data uploaded into SAP was summarized to such an extent that it was of little value for ongoing operations and project control purposes. Indeed prior to the implementation of Mpower, many hours were spent analyzing the data in SAP and Excel in order to determine actual man-hours and costs by craft against Work Orders and Network Activities.
With the introduction of Mpower Project Control & Cost Management Software, together with a set of craft classifications, the system now delivers the required information on demand.
In terms of acceptance, ease of use and simplicity of adoption, the owner/operator wanted their sub-contractors to enter their LEMs directly into Mpower or alternatively be able to load Excel based files. To support the loading of Excel files, the Mpower Connect toolkit was deployed. iConnect, Ascertra’s generic bi-directional integration tool, is used to read Excel, API, Web Service, XML and Database-to-Database data.
The graphic below shows how iConnect is used to transfer Human Resources and Accounts Payable data from and to SAP and to also upload KPI data from SAP (or other back-end
financial systems) via file or web service transfers. iConnect is used to transfer approved LEM data to SAP in the form of Services Entries. Standard Service Entry approval processes are then performed in SAP.
Irrespective of how the LEM is entered into Mpower, the same validations, controls, and workflow processes are applied.
Enhancing the Footprint
The owner/operator currently only uses a very small portion of Mpower’s application footprint. The plan is therefore to build upon the current dataset in Mpower to show the full strength of the application in terms of true portfolio, program and project cost and performance management.
Mpower is supported by Ascertra’s global support organization. With offices now spread across the world, Ascertra is able to provide continuous support.
In Mpower, the information is made visible on standard reports as well as on the Mpower interactive dashboards as illustrated in the following graphic.
In order to optimize efficiencies and improve business performance in this area, the owner/
operator implemented Ascertra’s Mpower software to support the following process:
- record all LEMs in Mpower, verifying data accuracy of Work Orders, Network Activities,
WBSs, Cost Centers, Internal Orders, labor rates as well as the vendors’ material and
- based on DOA levels, eLEMs are dispatched to the appropriate technical approval authority
- once technically approved, eLEMs are forwarded to the appropriate financial approval authority
- all of these processes are controlled using the Mpower workflow engine and users are alerted via email and application notifications that actions are required
- escalation processes are built-in if eLEMs are not approved in the required business timeframe financially approved, fully validated eLEMs are posted in real-time to SAP as Service Entries
- at all stages in the process, eLEMs may be rejected, re-positioned in the workflow or even revoked should the transaction need to be reversed in SAP