SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management launches to tackle projects and track worker access, compliance and pay

SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management Adobe Stock

SAP Fieldglass today announced a new solution that enables organizations in asset-intensive industries (like Oil & Gas, Chemicals, Utilities) to manage the execution and accounting of day-to-day plant maintenance work conducted by external workers, the provider said in a demo with Spend Matters. Addressing this specific use case, SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management adds to SAP Fieldglass’ other platform offerings: Contingent Workforce, Services Procurement and Worker Profile Management.

The new solution enables organizations to track and manage the assignments of on-site contract workers starting from an issued maintenance work order and approved single or blanket PO all the way to an auto-generated supplier invoice.

“As the portion of business spend on external labor grows, companies need full transparency into their external workforce operations,” SAP Fieldglass General Manager Arun Srinivasan said in a press release. “SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management enables organizations to better control their costs with a highly configurable, integrated tool. Businesses in asset-intensive industries can be confident that highly skilled contractors have access to the right facilities to complete the critical maintenance work while ensuring billing is done accurately and labor regulations, including worker safety, are followed.”

From Spend Matters’ demo, it’s clear that the solution can deliver a range of benefits, including control for real-time visibility into activities in the course of a day. Benefits also include efficiency from automation (e.g., time tracking, invoice generation, etc.) and from integration with other SAP solutions and modules across a unified platform.

In the new solution, contract workers are typically those of service suppliers that have already been onboarded and placed under contract elsewhere in the SAP platform (independent contractors can be treated as their own supplier as well rather than working for a larger service firm). An “assignment” is a type and quantity of work that is specified by a maintenance order (or a work breakdown structure from a project), moderated by a PO (that links to contracts and budgets) and is billed hourly.

Use Case and Solution

In an onsite plant setting, any number of maintenance activities may be conducted by multiple suppliers’ different workers each day.

Some personnel may work on a range of activities and assignments that involve the application of different skills, or “crafts” — in effect, separate job roles/applicable skills associated with different rate cards. The tracking and management of many different assignments and ensuring that worker-hours are tracked and are correctly costed is complicated, error prone and potentially non-compliant (at the worker, contract and supplier levels).

The SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management solution provides organizations with capabilities to address these problems.

Management of assignments begins when approved work orders (e.g., driven by a maintenance order from an ERP or maintenance system) and associated POs trigger the generation of work assignments for specific workers that have the skills required to perform certain tasks. These workers have been selected from a contractor worker pool already established in SAP Fieldglass, and they are already linked to specific suppliers and contracts.

With Assignment Management, any number of assignments, associated with any number of suppliers and contracts, can be tracked and managed in real time over the course of a day. Daily work plans and shift structures (which can be complex, like when accounting for domain-specific work calendar rules) are generated in SAP Fieldglass.

The solution provides organizations’ site operations managers with dashboard visibility into assignments at the site and drill-down capabilities into details (of assignments, worker profiles, etc.). Managers view hours worked by a given worker (including that works on multiple assignments and assumes different skill-based roles). Managers can also request changes in assignments and track costs against PO amounts or spend pools.

The solution tracks active worker assignments and hours worked based on timekeeping systems (e.g., Kronos) that have gate passes (secure access points to different areas of the site), where workers must use their badges to swipe in and out. Rules can be set up in the site to determine billable hours based on planned start-times and actual entry and exit times. It also supports a user role for suppliers’ “timekeepers,” who monitor time worked and ensure that hours are being allocated properly to assignments and POs.

Hours worked by given workers (potentially with multiple assignments), as mentioned above, are processed through the organizations’ time tracking systems. Rates from contracted rate cards are applied based on worker skill/craft types and associated job codes. Service entry sheets (in SAP parlance) have been auto-generated, reviewed and then auto-flipped to the service invoice line items that are pre-matched and ready for payment processing in the AP system.

Key Analyst Takeaways

The SAP Fieldglass Assignment Management solution demonstrates the provider’s capability to build a new solution that addresses a specific problem, like this one in asset-intensive industries — or even any industry where there are complex projects/programs with clear work breakdown structures and specific skills for the tasks. It also indicates SAP Fieldglass' commitment to addressing complex services procurement in addition to simple SOW and basic staff aug contingent workforce scenarios.

Some of our takeaways from seeing a demo of the new solution are:

  • The module is a strong set of operational capabilities that address the plant maintenance assignments, workers, work, accounting, etc. during the course of a day, thus filling both an efficiency gap and a control gap for organizations.
  • The efficiency benefits are potentially massive given the complexity/volumes in play. And spend management benefits also arise from visibility, process management, adding fail-safe features and digitization.
  • The solution relies on, and adds to, the data objects and capabilities from other solutions and modules within the Fieldglass application ecosystem. For example, it adds a “time journaling” dimension to track resources (workers) as their status changes throughout the day. Accordingly, the syncing among modules and data sets is ensured.
  • The solution more directly addresses the demand scenarios/use cases that drive the required services/work.

We’re looking to get more insights on how SAP Fieldglass uses its Decision Wizard solution on the front-end to help orchestrate multiple service types across the SAP Fieldglass portfolio, and how other services (like deliverable-based or milestones-based) and service-related expenses (like billable expenses from contractors) will get merged together to manage spend across the complete services spectrum.

There is also basic integration between this solution and both S/4HANA and SAP Ariba (e.g., process integration with guided buying, data integration with SAP Ariba Contract Management, and an evolving effort to move supplier engagement to the SAP Ariba Network), but this is part of a much longer and more strategic discussion that we’ll save for future Spend Matters PRO analyses.

SAP has championed the slogan of “Run Simple,” and today SAP Fieldglass is in fact reducing a pain point and continuing to help customers to run simple in this complex services scenario by offering better services modeling and automation to reduce human touches and error. And that is indeed a very good thing!

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