When I think back to the early days of my AssetWorks career, I remember some of our customer engagements where we provided custom development services for interfaces. The process seemed straightforward enough:
Except it was never that easy.
The code was very complex. Any change to functionality after testing required significant rework and time. It was not unusual for 3 months or more to pass between spec and final deployment into production. These often had successful outcomes, but at times, it could be a relatively painful process for a customer, with pressures and worry leading up to final deployment. On top of that, it was expensive. It was not unusual for custom interfaces to be 150-200 hours of effort. Interfaces often ended up being the primary blockers to implementation go-lives due to the time they took to spec, develop, test, rinse and repeat.
But then 2020 arrived, and, needless to say; we had a little bit of time to rethink how we do things around here. Enter the Standard Data Connector or “SDC” for short. Someone over here said, “hey – all of these custom interfaces have certain elements of common functionality depending on the data they are syncing. So why don’t we just package up the common piece and make it configurable, and then we can just bolt on the “transformative” code inbound or outbound and leave the headaches behind?”
So, we did. And it worked! The best part is that many customers don’t need us to do the transformative logic. You can deploy these things by yourself with a relatively light technical effort.
We now offer over 30 standard data connectors (and counting) for just about any type of data feed you can think of, and we’ve cut implementation time from what used to be several months to just about 4-6 weeks or less. Fully customized end-to-end interfaces are now a distant memory. We use SDCs for EVERYTHING. The cost and time savings make it a no-brainer.
Below are some customers who are enjoying the benefits of SDCs
Anna Borgerding, Associate Director of Operational Excellence for Facilities and Operations, and Reese Spindle, Assistant Director of Maintenance Administration & Operations, worked with AssetWorks to implement Employee, Property, External Charges, and Work Order Billing SDCs. In a few cases, they turned to us to write the transformative logic. UMB was an “early adopter” of SDCs (that’s code for: we were still working out a few kinks in the process!) It all worked out in the end, though, and we thank UMB for being such a good partner. Here is some of what they had to say:
"The SDC that had the largest reduction of manual entry was the external charges. The services center used to enter these charges manually on work orders. The SDCs mostly eliminated wrong account number information getting submitted for work that required multiple follow-ups for the administrative team
We were concerned with the complexity of our billing file that we could have accounting issues, but it all worked out perfectly in the end. Whatever adjustment we asked the [AssetWorks] technical team to make, they were spot on with their logic.”
By the time we got to Kent State this summer, writing transformations were second nature. Kent State had a very aggressive timeline and they asked us to carry out the transformative logic for Finance Transaction Outbound, Counter Release, and Meter Reading SDCs. All three transformations were completed and deployed over the course of 4-6 weeks between July and August. Nicole Corll, Senior Associate Director for University Facilities Management at Kent State, was happy to provide feedback on the SDCs her team implemented.
"All the standard SDCs went very smoothly. We appreciated the extra support for transformative services that were provided, as we do not have the IT staff to support that effort."
UCF is an excellent example of a customer who did their transformative logic with very little involvement from AssetWorks. Kudos to UCF for going the DIY route! Jennifer Jordan, Senior Manager of Asset Management, Reliability and Analytics, had this to say about the SDCs:
"The inbound SDCs were super easy to implement. Once we had identified the proper format for the JSON files, things were relatively straightforward. From the time the SDC folders were transferred to UCF, the actual implementation took maybe a month total. The biggest effort was working with the Workday people to identify the field mapping and testing the inbound files to ensure everything worked. We had AW tech resources on a few calls because of the setup and mapping to the correct server addresses. As always, Customer Care was super helpful.
Now that we’re getting nightly updates and the SDCs are in place, this is all automatic and “out of sight, out of mind”
The University of Houston went live on AiM and ReADY Request over the summer. It was a race to the finish line and Lawrence Dang, Application Developer for Facilities Business Operations and Compliance, appreciated the low-touch deployment model:
"Time to deploy was rather quick…they came preconfigured out of the box, and AssetWorks only really needed to add some minor parameter settings."
Here are some other customers we’d like to shout out to whom are already benefiting from SDCs.
SDCs were created to help make data integrations less cumbersome for our customers when it comes to integrating with AiM. Whether you and your team self-deploy or require support to deploy, AssetWorks can propose an SDC solution that will fit your needs. If you or someone in your organization is interested in developing their own business automation for SDC transformative logic, we highly encourage you to consider our Advanced Business Automation Certification. Contact your AssetWorks account rep to learn more.
So there you have it. If you’ve been putting off interface implementation due to the complexity or the cost, now’s the time to revisit and reengage. SDCs are an evolutionary leap in integration and can help your AiM IWMS reach its full potential.
About the Author
Bob Baker is the Vice President of Services at AssetWorks and has never coded a thing in his life. In fact, he’s the least technical person we know. We like having him around because he focuses on customer business outcomes and boils highly technical concepts down to something we can all relate to: time, money, and customer experience. Bob leads a team of highly skilled, customer-focused facilities industry experts who are ready, willing, and able to assist you with your most complex IWMS challenges.