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Creating a Solid Foundation for Successful Asset Management

Stefano April 11, 2018
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Bridging the gap to an unwavering Asset Management Solution

Before a bridge is built and trusted for safe passage, it is a pile of raw materials – steel beams, timber, joint materials and stone. Armed with blueprints and a team of skilled craftsmen who network, troubleshoot and build, an architect brings a well-orchestrated plan to fruition. The team’s hard work and dedication yields, in the end, a majestic structure that serves an integral function. An agency’s assets are nothing more, initially, than unrealized potential – raw materials waiting to be built.

Embarking into the world of asset management requires careful thought and planning. When an agency maintains its asset data without an asset management software, it is doing so in a way that is ultimately counterproductive, costing the agency more money in the long run. Recognizing there is a need to make the financial leap and invest in a comprehensive system to manage all assets typically is not an overnight process for most organizations. Whatever assets are being maintained, there are multiple aspects to consider when selecting a solution.

The goal of asset management is really about taking care of what you already have. It’s focused on getting the most out of your assets at the lowest cost to the system. So, how do you get the most out of an asset management system and maximize your return on investment (ROI)? The answer might be easier than you think. To find the answer, we can look to a three-legged stool as the symbolism for true asset management.

A three-legged stool is a useful tool when someone wants something to sit on. Three strong legs connected to a circular seat at the top combine to provide a sturdy surface for one to sit on. However, this same three-legged stool is not as sturdy, nor as useful, if it is missing any one or more of the legs used to support it. Instead, it becomes unstable and easy to tip over because it lacks the structural integrity to stay upright. Asset management as a process is like the three-legged stool; it is strong with all three legs, but not effective without any one leg missing. Each of the three legs on the asset management stool represents something equally important to ensure the stool will not fall over.

Key areas are:

  1. Vision/Goals
  2. Technology Requirements
  3. Resources (Financial and Staffing)

Vision/Goals

Asset management requires clear vision by those in leadership who, in turn, are supported by goals. True asset management cannot be implemented without leadership support. Furthermore, gaining this necessary leadership buy-in and endorsement for an asset management system should follow the agency’s vision, goals and mission statements. Those in leadership should understand that data itself is an asset and should be viewed as such. Data that is protected and governed correctly allows agencies to make better, smarter decisions. So where does the vision begin and how are the goals achieved?

Often, one of the first approaches an agency should take in the quest to implementing a true asset management system is to start at the planning stage by developing an asset management plan. In the asset management plan, agency leadership can identify and document a blueprint for the asset management system. In this plan, the purpose and need, and the identification of asset types, data structure and workflows are documented comprising a roadmap for how best to govern and manage asset data.

By knowing the asset data “as-is” architecture of the agency, the vision and goals can help to identify the path to reach the “to-be” horizon asset management framework. The technology gap that may exist between the “as-is” and to-be” configurations should be noted in the asset management plan and should include the pros and cons for meeting the technology requirements of the desired asset management system.

Technology Requirements

Coinciding with the asset management plan concept is identifying the right technology requirements for which the asset management system will interface. Technology is ever-changing. Choosing the right asset management system, with an information technology (IT) stack that is compatible with the agency’s current IT infrastructure and vision, is of critical importance.

Choosing a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) asset management system like VUEWorks® that is web-based, should spark other questions. Is the program cloud-based access capable or not? Is it reporting capable? What are the vendor’s abilities to implement, train and support the customer? Remember, asset management is primarily about getting the most out of asset data at the lowest cost to the system.

Not all asset management systems are equal. Some interface with GIS, and some do not. Some allow for budget and life-cycle analysis and maintenance of asset data and some do not. Some allow for the ability to manage risk and the consequence of assets failing, and others do not. Some systems allow for managing non-spatial assets, and others do not. Picking an asset management system that meets all the technology requirements as stated in the asset management plan to meet the future needs of the agency is essential.

Resources (Financial and Staffing)

Equally important as part of the asset management plan is the identification of financial budgeting of the asset management system and the staff resources necessary to support it. The selected asset management solution should be expansive, yet simple enough to make it easy for its staff to be able to learn, adapt and maintain asset data once the COTS system is implemented. Likewise, setting up an asset management system without the financial backing for agency staffing and long-term software maintenance and support is counter-productive and sets up for failure before implementation concludes.

Not all asset management systems are equal. VUEWorks is the blueprint that offers customers a complete solution for managing any data asset from a “cradle-to-grave” management perspective. Choosing the right asset management system is one that should involve thorough planning, thought and leadership endorsement for financial and resource backing. Proper asset management planning should include identifying the technology requirements that align with the agency vision and goals of the system, appropriate technology requirements and the adequate financial and staffing resources to support the system.

The system should also be scalable and configurable to meet “as-is” existing departmental and organizational workflows. Just the three-legged stool example, the asset management system is sturdy, sustainable and relevant. Missing any of the three critical elements to asset management success will result in counterproductive outcomes.

On the other hand, careful planning ensures a positive return on investment (ROI), which yields the following outcomes:

  • Improving decisions about need for asset rehabilitation, repair and replacement
  • Meeting the demands of the public and increased safety
  • Allowing life-cycle budgeting capabilities for analyzing “what if” scenarios
  • Meeting regulatory requirements
  • Improving and maintaining asset security
  • Minimizing overall operations and capital improvement costs

Is your organization looking for a fully comprehensive asset management solution that offers a solid return on investment?

Contact Douglas Lynch, GISP for more information on how VUEWorks can help manage your world: dlynch@dtsgis.com.