The business software world is full of buzzwords, some of which are so similar they can be very confusing. For example, what is the difference between EAM and ERP? While these two acronyms may seem similar, they actually refer to very different types of software. Let’s break down the differences between EAM vs ERP.
What Is EAM?
EAM stands for enterprise asset management and is an offshoot of computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS). This type of software manages the lifecycle of various assets and is typically used in industries that rely on complex physical assets like machinery, vehicles and equipment. It offers a range of capabilities that focus on maintenance, monitoring, management and forecasting in order to make the most of an enterprise’s assets.
Like CMMS software, EAM systems let users schedule preventive maintenance on their assets. Preventive maintenance is why you get an oil change at 5,000 miles instead of when your car breaks down — and this concept can be applied on a grander scale to many types of assets.
Technicians can use EAM software to create maintenance schedules. These schedules can be assigned to individual workers, color-coded for easy understanding and automated to repeat for assets that require regular maintenance. Users can create reminders for asset maintenance tasks and keep detailed maintenance records directly in the asset profile for ease of access.
EAM software also offers users unique asset monitoring abilities. Real-time asset monitoring alerts users to pending machine part failures, allowing them to perform predictive maintenance. Like preventive maintenance, this helps keep the larger asset running at top performance for longer. It also saves money — instead of replacing parts when you think they need to be changed, you replace them when you know they need changing.
Through the internet of things (IoT), EAM lets users monitor assets and facilities in new and exciting ways. Smart HVAC units can remotely control temperature, smart security keeps your assets safe, and the communication between different IoT enabled devices keeps you informed at all times.
EAM doesn’t just manage machines: it also offers robust inventory, materials, procurement, supply chain and facilities management features. Inventory modules let users assign barcodes to inventory and monitor stock levels in real time to avoid running out of crucial parts. Hazardous materials can be tracked as they move to, from or around your facility, giving you peace of mind and safety from liability.
EAM can help other areas of your business too. The procurement management module keeps procurement teams up-to-date on what materials and parts other departments require and lets them submit purchasing requests directly through the EAM interface. Procurement models save purchasing teams time and make it so you don’t have to purchase an additional service or software for that step in the supply chain.
The previous three features add up to a bonus feature: forecasting. When you can monitor asset lifespans and performance, you can predict how long they will last and how productive they will be. When you have detailed asset maintenance records, you can predict how much a replacement for that asset will cost over the course of its life to get a better understanding of continuing costs.
Inventory and materials management allows users to predict when stock will need to be reordered and that lets them make more accurate predictions for how much the organization will spend on that stock. There is almost no corner of your business that EAM software won’t touch and improve!
What Is ERP?
ERP stands for enterprise resource planning. ERP systems manage a wide variety of day-to-day operational tasks for a huge range of industries and business types. Some call it the jack-of-all-trades of the software world, and for good reason.
ERP offers business process management tools that manage an organization’s information. This covers a huge umbrella of capabilities and can replace or integrate a variety of other types of software for some businesses. Here is a brief summary of ERP’s features:
ERP can perform many accounting functions like payroll, accounts receivable/payable, invoices and more. It offers cash flow management functions that help businesses budget and forecast expenditures through cost analysis and calculations. Its scrubbing features help keep tax preparations error-free and reduce the amount of data entry that users need to perform. If it is integrated with your other software, you can easily import sales data, employee hours, tax regulations and more.
ERP also manages human capital. From HR tools to tax administration, ERP streamlines employee management and onboarding tasks. It also offers productivity monitoring features and hiring tools to make getting (and keeping) workers that much more streamlined. It’s easy to export employee information to the accounting module for payroll tasks or connect with the CRM features to monitor sales for commissions and performance management.
Manufacturing and Distribution
On the subject of streamlining work tasks, the manufacturing and distribution modules of ERP maximize the efficiency of your business. ERP automates and consolidates production processes like capacity requirements planning, cost analysis, production control/synchronization, quality assurance, etc. By automating repetitive tasks, employees have more time to perform complex or managerial tasks.
ERP users can manage stock, inventory, orders and deliveries through this all-in-one system. This allows managers to make and stick to revenue goals and optimize inventory processes. Users can track hazardous material transportation and set up alerts when deliveries arrive.
From sales tracking to order management, ERP organizes a range of sales processes. Users can automate transactions, track expenses, monitor product and sales rep performance, etc. It also performs price/profit calculations to help you ensure profitability and make financial forecasts. Instead of relying on external ticketing systems, customer service actions can be processed directly through the ERP.
Supply chain management is a complex process, and ERP helps automate and streamline it. ERP offers procurement, logistics, sourcing, demand planning, distribution, order management and much more. You can track materials or products from origin through to sale and every step in between.
Whether it’s customer relationship management (CRM) tasks or marketing functions, ERP even covers the customer service side of your business. Users can access contact management, customer accounts, case management, email tools, marketing tools, pricing and tracking, etc. ERP handles both B2B and B2C business.
ERP also offers some of the reporting and analytics capabilities offered by business intelligence software. BI collects proprietary data from your business and creates actionable insights from it that help you make data-driven decisions. From more accurate performance reports to financial and business forecasts, BI gives users the opportunity for intelligent business practices.
What Are the Differences Between ERP and EAM?
Now that you have a general understanding of what both ERP and EAM do, the differences should be pretty clear. EAM is narrow in scope — it focuses on managing the maintenance and lifecycle of your assets. ERP is much broader. It offers features normally covered by a range of different software systems all in the same platform.
ERP does offer some of the same features as EAM in regards to asset management and financial planning. Some ERP systems even have an asset management module. But EAM is much more robust when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of asset management, whereas ERP only covers the basics of that function.
ERP can perform some EAM functions, but doesn’t always. EAM performs a much more specific task than ERP and does not offer anything outside of asset maintenance and management.
How to Choose an ERP vs EAM System
Now you know the differences, but you might still be wondering: do you need an EAM or an ERP solution? While this question can only be answered on a case-by-case basis, it should be easy to narrow it down.
Is Your Organization Asset-Focused?
Does your organization rely on heavy machinery, fleets of vehicles, facilities or other physical assets? If you do, you may want to consider a CMMS or EAM platform — even if you also use an ERP. EAM platforms offer niche asset management functions that even the most powerful ERP solution likely skips over.
Do You Already Use Other Business Software?
If your organization uses a CRM, HR system, SCM platform or other software, you may be able to consolidate their functions within an ERP solution. If you use other software and just want something to manage your assets, an EAM would be more appropriate. For enterprises that operate internationally or on a grand scale, you might even investigate implementing both!
What Is The Size of Your Business?
Many SMBs may find the cost of specialized software prohibitive, but ERP can often serve the roles of many individual software solutions in a single more affordable package. Enterprises may find ERP useful for integrating their various types of software or filling in any gaps left by legacy solutions, and they might use it in addition to rather than instead of other software solutions. Small organizations just trying to get a handle on their assets might find CMMS or EAM a useful tool, and ERP might be too robust for their needs. Similarly, if your organization is too small to need an entire designated asset management system, ERP can fill in many gaps and serve as a my-first-software solution.
To choose the perfect ERP or EAM solution for your organization, we’ve compiled a quick guide.
Your organization is unique, so you have unique needs from a software solution. Our interactive EAM requirements template or ERP requirements template can help you identify which features of EAM or ERP software you will most likely use. This helps you identify the platforms that best deliver the features you need — it’s like a dating site algorithm for software!
Once you’ve identified your key requirements, you can compare vendors based on how well their solutions deliver those features. This ERP comparison report breaks down how different ERP solutions perform. This EAM comparison report explains how the top EAM solutions deliver each main feature. This will help you narrow down the products that best match your needs.
Create a Shortlist and Request Demos
Create a shortlist from the top five or six solutions identified in the previous step: these solutions best meet your basic requirements. Now it’s time to compare the pricing and interfaces of these systems. Our EAM pricing guide offers prices for industry leaders, and our ERP pricing guide provides pricing information for the top ERP systems.
After disregarding any systems that are too high above your budget, ask the vendors for a free trial or demo. You can find this information on most product websites or in this product directory. Taking the software for a test drive will give you a feel for the intuitiveness and user-friendliness of a system, something you can’t really judge without trying it for yourself.
Despite the similarity of the acronyms, a comparison of ERP vs EAM shows that the two are very different systems. This guide should help you identify the differences, determine which suits your needs and choose the right system for your organization.
Do you still have questions about the differences between EAM and ERP? Let us know in the comments!