Common use cases for EAM mobile solutions

In some organisations, when starting a mobile project, the stakeholders may not have prior experience with mobility solutions for EAM, as such, we are sometimes asked to implement features that do not add value to the business. As consultants, it is satisfying to see something we implement being used and helps the end-users on the field. And nothing can be more frustrating than spending time building features that are not going to be used. In this post, I will list out based on my experience some commonly used and not used functions of a mobile app:

Work Execution: despite its name is Asset Management software, 80% of activities in Maximo happen around the work management process. It is not a surprise work execution is the number one use-case for a mobile app. However, work management is a big process with several major stages and many different activities. Only certain activities need to be recorded in the field with a mobile device. Below are some common ones:

A case for EzMaxMobile

I spend a large portion of my time working with mobile solutions, but I haven’t talked much on this topic. In this post, I will give a bit of praise to EzMaxMobile.

Why should you listen to me: I know a bit about mobile solutions for Maximo. I’ve done several (failed) pilots with the Maximo mobile suite (of the olden days). I’ve built a mobile app which is pretty successful and is being used by some large Oil & Gas operators. I have a bit of experience on a few small Anywhere projects, with Datasplice, and a few smaller home-grown apps.

Why shouldn’t you listen to me: the settings and the level of my involvement for each of the above projects/deployments are vastly different, as such, my opinion on this matter is heavily biased (toward EzMaxMobile).

String Concatenation in WebMethods

Manipulating string is probably the most frequent operation we need to do when transforming data. Thus, I’d like to talk a bit about string concatenation in WebMethods. The most basic way to add two strings is to use the pub.string.concat service in the WmPublic package as shown below:

Image 01. pub.string.concat service

Play around with Map control in Cognos Analytics

There’s been quite a bit of talk recently on the web about the new partnership with MapBox to deliver new map capabilities to Cognos Analytics (and there isn’t much talk about the discontinuation of support for ArcGIS in this new version). I decided to spend a bit more time to learn about the map functionality in this new Cognos version. The best way to get to know something is by doing it. So I cooked up some “real” requirements and tried to build a few dashboards.

The first one, I like to see whether a change in average temperature will affect the number of calls to fix break/leak issues related to water supply piping system, and whether a change in average rainfall will affect number of calls related to sewage/drainage systems. The data should be broken down to suburb and post-code level. Below is what I got:

For the second one, I like to compare the average planned vs actual labour hours spent on maintenance work, and the amount of time field workers spent to get to work location vs the amount of time spent on doing actual maintenance work. The purpose is to see whether there is a difference in remote areas and if it affects planned vs actual ratio. Below is what I got:

Overall, I am impressed with the ease of use, the responsiveness, and the level of interactivity of this new Map control in Dashboard. However, through this exercise, I found there are quite a number of limitations to this new map control:

  • This map control is only available in Dashboard. With Report, and Active Report, a different version of Mapbox control, and older map controls are available. However, they are both a lot less interactive and much more limited in functionality.
  • It only supports X/Y coordinates, thus, if your data is easting/northing, it needs to be converted to X/Y coordinates first.
  • For high-lighting map regions, Australian Postcode is supported and is the lowest level of detail. High-lighting suburbs is not supported, the lowest level of detail is council/city regions and the region names must match with the Mapbox pre-defined list. Thus, some level of data cleansing must be done if the region names in your data doesn't match exactly with the city/region name in this list.
  • It is possible to upload custom maps to MapBox to achieve more refined areas, however, there was an issue with MapBox changing the way to manage Layout ID. The issue is only corrected with newer versions of Cognos (from 11.1.x). Thus, this custom map function doesn’t work with older versions (including v11.0.11 which is bundled with Maximo)

Implement If-Then-Else Logic in WebMethods

Conditional Logic is the most important building block of any software development tool. WebMethods is not a programming language, but since we use it to build integration interface, which is also software, it means we are also programming with it. Writing a simple “If-Then-Else” condition in WebMethod is way too verbose to me though. The official tutorial on SoftwareAG teaches us to implement an if-then-else logic using the BranchSequence, and Map nodes as depicted in the sample below:

My failed attempt to get Maximo to work with Azure SQL database

Recently, I started playing with Azure by attempting to migrate a Maximo instance from my local VM to Azure platform. Although the attempt was a success. I didn’t realize SQL Server and Azure SQL are different databases (or more correctly, two different versions). There were a few issues during the process, but I figured out how to work around them and got Maximo running on Azure VM and Azure SQL. After sharing the result on LinkedIn, there were some comments that Maximo couldn’t be installed on Azure SQL and IBM doesn’t support it, so I spent a bit more time digging and thought I should share the details and some of my opinions on this matter.

First, let us be clear, Azure is a big cloud platform which offers many different services. I’m not a cloud expert, but from what I understand, we are talking about two main services:

Framework Manager crashes when creating Project

I tried to create a new Framework Manager project to build a package which I will join some big Maximo tables (Assets, Workorder etc.) with some general geo/demographical data I pulled from the Web. Framework Manager kept crashing with this annoying error. After some quick search on the web, I realized the issue with FM crashing is not uncommon, and there can be a thousand reasons for that. To be honest, from the perspective of a software developer, most of these are simple and stupid exceptions which should be caught or fixed easily by the Cognos R&D team. Good software should give the end-users useful error messages about what they did wrong. But anyway, this is not another post to complain, just a quick note on another crash scenario so you can avoid: