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Phase based Maintenance with SAP S/4HANA 2021 and higher

This article covers new phase based maintenance model in SAP Plant Maintenance/EAM, which is available from version SAP S/4HANA 2021 and can be delivered with SAP Best Practices 4HH and 4HI (on-Premise).

Phase Model Maintenance SAP PM S4HANA 2021


It’s SAPdude here, and this is another article on my blog. This one covers new maintenance model in SAP Plant Maintenance/EAM, which is available from version SAP S/4HANA 2021 and can be delivered with SAP Best Practices 4HH and 4HI (on-Premise). It’s called Phase-based maintenance, as it consists of 9 phases like initiation, screening, planning and others, which support Maintenance Management and Execution. It support Reactive and Proactive Maintenance. The whole concept is supported from the very start till its end by fresh Fiori Applications, like Screen Maintenance Requests, Perform Maintenance Jobs, Maintenance Backlog Overview and more. For those of you, who want to know how to configure it in your SAP S/4HANA 2021 system (or higher) – you will also find it on my website.
Enjoy the reading and yeah – have fun!

Reactive/Breakdown Maintenance before S/4HANA 2021

Before we jump into this new functionality, let’s review the classic process flow of reactive maintenance in various versions of SAP like the first S/4HANAs, ECC or even R3. Reactive maintenance as its name already states – we react on something. In our case, in Asset Management – we react on damage, malfunction, deviation which has already happened. Our goal in this process is to quickly identify the damage, plan and schedule the necessary work and then execute it.

The process is not so complicated, as Reactive Maintenance is the very basic and the very first maintenance strategy in Asset Management. Nowadays we hear a lot about Predictive or even Prescriptive Maintenance – we won’t talk about them in this article.

Plant Maintenance simplified process flow of Reactive Maintenance
Reactive Maintenance - Business Process (simplified)

Okay, we’ve just had a quick overview of Reactive Maintenance from Business process perspective. But how does it work in the system? What steps have to be taken and by whom? Let’s have a quick look at it as well.

When it comes to transactional data there are two main objects in SAP Plant Maintenance – Notifications and Work Orders. If you don’t know them yet – check this playlist on YouTube, where I describe it with an example.

Reactive Maintenance starts with a Notification, which we use to identify and describe the malfunction of our asset. It can be created via SAP GUI, with transaction IW21. As every single screen in GUI – this one has a lot of fields as well. Of course, I know we can hide them – but it’s not only about amount of fields. It’s about the feeling, the user experience of using specific applications.For lower versions of SAP S/4HANA there are already Fiori Applications supporting Plant Maintenance. 

It means, this step could be performed via Fiori Launchpad.

IW21 Create M1 M2 Notification SAP PM
Maintenance Notification Creation with SAP GUI (transaction IW21)

Once the notification is created, it can be displayed by a Gatekeeper/Supervisor and they can convert it into a Work Order. In standard flow there is no feedback loop when it comes to this process. It means, the creator of the notification is not notified about the progress, he doesn’t know whether his/her notification was rejected, or some additional data is needed. Of course – the author of the notification can access it in the system and display the changes by digging in the system.

SAP Plant Maintenance IW31 Create Order GUI
Maintenance Order Creation from Notification with SAP GUI (transaction IW28)

Work Order has been created along with the respective tasks, dates and spare parts. It means, the planning and scheduling phase is finished. This was done with another SAP GUI transaction (IW31). It’s time to execute the work. Work Execution means, the team leaders of technicians, electricians etc. accesses the system to see, what work has to be performed today and in coming days. In most of the cases, they use the same transactions like planners, but with different selection criteria. Again – this step requires digging in SAP, which is not the dream job of these people. The open work orders and their tasks (operations) are displayed. Then, technicians perform their work, repair the assets, replace spare parts, use tools etc. Work time is then registered in the system by using Time Confirmations. The same functionality can be used to perform Goods Issue of spare parts. Below you can see an example of time confirmation created in SAP GUI with transaction IW41. 

IW41 GUI SAP Work Confirmation of Maintenance Order
Work Order Operation Confirmation with SAP GUI (transaction IW41)

That’s the end of the process. The Work Order can be technically closed and at the end of a month all the generated costs of maintenance will be settled against respective Cost Centers. 

In standard flow there is no feedback loop when it comes to this process (Maintenance Requests/Notifications)

Phase based Reactive Maintenance with SAP S/4HANA – overview

Now we are ready to dive deep into the new possibilities in S/4HANA 2021 and higher. Phase-based maintenance consists of the following nine phases:
Initiation, Screening, Planning, Approval, Preparation, Scheduling, Execution, Post-execution, Closure. So many phases, right? But no worries – it doesn’t mean they are mandatory. You can skip the ones, which are not relevant for your process, or you can automate them, so they are set automatically.
Before we jump into these details, let’s have a look at the below graphic.

9 Phases Maintenance Model SAP Plant Maintenance
Phase Maintenance Model for Reactive Maintenance - available from S/4HANA 2021

Do you see some correlation with the ‘old’ reactive maintenance, which I described earlier? Exactly, it’s the same flow but enriched by additional phases. We see a phase called Screening, Approval, Preparation, Post-execution. In the next section you will find benefits of this new approach.

Step by step: Phase based Reactive Maintenance with SAP S/4HANA

Now we will dive even deeper. You will see step by step, what activities are taken in the system. This process is in more than 80% supported by new SAP Fiori Applications. Before I describe its details, let’s define 3 Personas, which will participate in this process. We have an Employee, Maintenance Planner and Maintenance Worker (Technician, Electrician etc.).

Let’s go!

a. Initiation

We start with the Employee. Let’s say there is an equipment, which is damaged. For example an Air Compressor. You want to inform your maintenance department about it.
This is where Maintenance Request kicks in. In other words – it’s time to create a Notification. We use SAP Fiori Launchpad and access the following Fiori Application – Create Maintenance Request (F1511A). If you don’t see this Application in your S/4HANA system, it means either your version is lower than 2021, or you don’t have required authorization.

SAP Fiori Application - Create Maintenance Request F1511A SAPdude
Initiation Phase - Create Maintenance Request (Notification) with 'Create Maintenance Request' Fiori App

We can manually find the asset, or we can just use the barcode scanner. Then, we enter the details like description, long text, we can also add attachments.
This application allows us to assess priority of our request. We do it by answering the questions defined by a PM Consultant in the Configuration. We just select the potential consequence and its likelihood – and then SAP calculates and suggest proper priority. If we don’t need some of the fields, we can adapt the UI (I will describe it in another article). You don’t see the Notification Type field here. It is fetched automatically from the configuration. Once we save our request, we are automatically moved to another application called My Maintenance Requests (F4513). Here we can monitor status of our requests, if they are approved, rejected, require some action from us, or they are completed. 

Fiori Application My Maintenance Requests F4513
Feedback loop/Monitoring our Maintenance Requests with Fiori App 'My Maintenance Requests'

a. Screening

Here we switch to another persona – Maintenance Planner.
An employee has created a Maintenance Request and we want to see it and decide, whether it’s relevant, or we should reject it.
We access our Fiori Launchpad and look for an application Screen Maintenance Requests (F4072). Before we launch it we already see the number of outstanding requests – the ones, which await our action. Here we can define our selection criteria. By default, the Maintenance Request (Y1) is selected. We see the request/notification created by an employee.
We can act quick, by approving/rejecting the notification without seeing its details, or we can go inside as you see below.

Screen Maintenance Requests SAP Fiori Application F4072 SAPdude
Screening Phase - Maintenance Request to be Approved/Rejected/set on hold with Fiori Application 'Screen Maintenance Requests'

Once we got familiar with the details, we have three options.

We can:

  • Accept the notification – then we switch to next step and phase of the process
  • Ask for more details – we put the notification on hold, Employee receives it in the App My maintenance Requests, and he/she has to submit it again with the required details
  • Reject it – we can select a reason why we rejected it, the Employee can see it in the tab ‘Rejected’ and this is the end of the process


In our scenario, I will accept this notification:

SAP Screening - Accept Maintenance Request SAPdude
Action Buttons available for 'Screen Maintenance Requests' Fiori App

Last comment before going to the next step – all these actions like Accepting, Rejecting etc. – they are reflected in the backend system in the notification as System Statuses. 

Here we continue as a Maintenance Planner. In the previous step we accepted some request from one of our Employees. Now it’s time to inform our Technicians about the work, which has to be done. For this purpose we use the Fiori Application Find Maintenance Notification (F2071). Here we select the notification and we can either create/generate a Work Order or assign an existing one. If we had more notifications, we can just select them all and assign to one work order – that’s also possible.

SAP Create Maintenance Order with Fiori SAPdude
Creating a Work Order/PM Order from Notification with Fiori Application 'Find Maintenance Notifications'

Previously I showed you Screening phase, where we approved the request.
This time it’s possible to approve a Work Order. Approval can be done for example by a Maintenance Manager, who checks the estimated costs and so on.
This phase is not mandatory, and I won’t cover it in this article. There is no manual approval needed in our case. It happens automatically once the order is released and saved.

This phase works with SAP Workflow. If you configure it in your system in a way, that manual approval is required – respective users receive it in their Inbox. There is an application called My Inbox, where all the Workflow items land and user’s action is required.

The next, 5th phase in the process – Preparation. Here, as a maintenance planner we check if all the necessary resources are available.
When it comes to pure internal work – it’s mainly availability of our people (technicians, electricians etc.) and spare parts.
It’s vital to have all the necessary materials in Stock before any work is scheduled and ready for execution. 

For this purpose there are another, new Fiori Applications called Manage Maintenance Planning Buckets (F3888) and Manage Maintenance Backlog (F4073).

A maintenance planning bucket is a container, which we can define for specific asset, or set of assets in our company.
We define the range of dates and other settings. Once it’s established, all the relevant work for the selected assets, which lie in the selected dates – is visible in the bucket. That way maintenance planner can easily monitor resources availability. Maintenance work is moved to another phase, once it’s submitted for scheduling.

SAP Fiori Application Maintenance Backlog Overview and Manage Maintenance backlog SAPdude
Resources preparation and monitoring with a new Fiori Application 'Maintenance Backlog Overview'

It’s time to schedule and dispatch the work. As a Maintenance Planner we still have possibility to change the dates, assign it to events in our Factory like revisions, so they will be rescheduled automatically. Or as I mentioned earlier – we can just dispatch the work. It means, from now on, the relevant group of people will receive their tasks and they can start working on them.

Below you see the Fiori application Find Maintenance Orders (F2175), which allows you to dispatch all operations for a work order.

How to dispatch PM Order with Fiori Application SAPdude
Dispatching tasks (operations) to technicians with Fiori Application 'Find Maintenance Orders'

If your need is to do it for selected operations – you should use Maintenance Resource Scheduling (RSH). 

SAP RSH Resource Scheduling Fiori Application Dispatch operations SAPdude
Advanced scheduling and dispatching of operations with RSH tool (alternatively)

In the previous steps we defined four tasks for two groups of our Maintenance Team – Technicians and Electricians.
For two tasks we went even deeper – we selected specific individuals (in this example we selected myself).

Now, as a Technician I can display the tasks and start working on them.
For this we will use Fiori Application called Perform Maintenance Jobs (F5104A).
Watch out! In order to see these tasks, there are some steps to be done in Personalisation App. See [this] article, where I describe it along with system configuration.
Here we see all the released and dispatched tasks (Work Order Operations), which were assigned either to our group, or even deeper – to our group and our personal number. We start the work and once it’s done – we mark it as completed in SAP. 

We can also post time confirmations and goods issue – directly from this application, without MIGO and other transactions.

SAP Fiori Application Perform Maintenance Jobs S4HANA SAPdude
Posting time confirmations, goods issue (planned/unplanned), measurements and follow-up notifications with 'Perform Maintenance Jobs' Fiori Application.

Here, as a Technician we can continue with the time confirmations and other administrative work in the System.
If not, as a Maintenance Planner or Supervisor we just check these activities and we mark the order as Complete (TECO).

How to TECO Maintenance Order with Fiori Application SAPdude
Work Order Technical Completion (TECO status) with Fiori Application 'Find Maintenance Orders'

This is the last phase of 9 Phase-based Maintenance. Its purpose is to perform the final checks of an order, especially when it comes to the generated costs, invoices etc. Then, the maintenance order can be settled and its status changed to Business Completion. 

SAP Cost Analysis PM Order Fiori App and Business Completion
Analysis of selected Work Order (costs) and Business Completion with SAP Fiori Application 'Find Maintenance Orders'

In this article we’ve just went through a new Maintenance Model, which is available from SAP S/4HANA 2021 for EAM module. Personally, I see it as a big game changer, because it simplifies work especially for such people like Technicians, Electricians etc. Previously, they had to launch unfriendly transactions like IW41 and others. Now, they can easily see what work is meant for them, what resources they need and when they have to finish it. Of course there is a lot of other new functionalities, which support Maintenance Planners, Managers and other people.

If you want to see how to configure this approach – check my other article, which you will find under Phase Maintenance configuration for SAP S/4HANA link.
If you want to see the 9 Phase-based Maintenance model in action, not only as a text and set of illustration – check out my video.

And finally – if you find these things useful – consider sharing on LinkedIn and other socials and subscribe the youtube channel. See you in a next one!