We all know how important good asset management is, but achieving it is easier said than done.
According to Allen Mapstone, experienced local government engineer and head trainer of IPWEA’s Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning
, there are some common and easily corrected mistakes many organisations make when it comes to asset management and asset management plans.
Importantly, Mapstone says many organisations focus on only the technical data, while forgetting to include information about service levels.
“When we raise the subject of asset management, many people have an interpretation of what they think it is or should be,” Mapstone says.
“At a detailed technical level, it is important that subject matter experts can analyse how particular assets perform, understand the lifecycle costs and the risks associated with failure. This information, whether it be detailed or based on judgement, is essential to the broader strategic discussion.
“However, many asset plans tend to focus only on these technical and lifecycle aspects. We believe that an asset plan should support informed decision making, with options and consequences being transparent.”
Here, Mapstone lists five asset management pitfalls to avoid:
1. Assuming that a very high level of data detail is required before you start an asset management plan.
Are you putting off starting an asset management plan because you aren’t confident that your data is good enough? Contrary to what many people believe, Mapstone says significant progress can still be made with a lower level of data, provided it is reviewed by subject matter experts. Just remember to factor in a lower level of confidence and document any assumptions until your plan can be supported by data-based evidence – you can always flesh your plan out as more data becomes available.
2. Not bringing the rest of the organisation along for the ride.
Good asset management requires buy-in from the whole organisation. Mapstone says that, all too often, organisations try to implement ambitious asset management plans in silos. The culture of an organisation needs to adjust to ensure that not only is a good plan prepared, but it is also reviewed and updated on a regular basis and integrated with all other business processes.
“An integrated planning approach requires a coordinated and whole-of-organisation approach,” Mapstone says.
If the approach doesn’t include the community and corporate planners, as well as representatives from finance and the operational areas, there is a pretty good chance the information will be incomplete. These professionals all have important contributions to make to an asset plan and their consensus on implementing the plan is essential.
Mapstone recommends setting up a well-managed 'steering group' to coordinate this.
3. Forgetting to include options and consequences in your asset management plan.
A pure technical approach will likely identify the lowest lifecycle cost approach. However, that is actually only one option. Your organisation may have other challenges that it sees as 'more important' to fund and implement. That’s fine, as long as decision makers accept the broader consequences that go along with those choices.
“An asset management plan should be more than a technical budget bid,” Mapstone says.
4. Not establishing a longer-term improvement strategy to link the planning aspirations, asset planning and financial planning aspects.
So you’ve got an asset management plan – great! But, have you aligned it with your organisation’s long-term financial plan, or with a strategic asset management plan?
If there is a corporate focus to prioritise a particular area of service, but then your asset and financial planning heads another direction, you will have missed out on a key objective of integrated planning.
5. Not providing leadership from senior management or the resources to implement sound asset planning practices.
Your senior management will likely be communicating the asset plans to the board or council. If they are not directly involved at the planning stage, it is unlikely they will be committed to the result. They also control staff resources. Mapstone explains that asset management doesn’t happen by itself, so if resources aren’t provided and managed a good outcome will be compromised.
Want to learn more about asset management?
Registrations are now open for the next round of IPWEA’s internationally recognised Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning.
The IPWEA Professional Certificate draws on the International Infrastructure Management Manual (IIMM), to give participants a deeper practical understanding of asset management plans.
Participants will be given the tools to develop their own draft AMPs using a combination of live and interactive webinars, how-to-videos, discussion forums, assignments, and hands-on use of IPWEA NAMS.PLUS tools and templates.
The first session kicks off 14 September – register now. About Allen Mapstone
Mapstone holds an Honours Degree in civil engineering along with post graduate management qualifications. He is an experienced civil engineer with extensive experience in all aspects of asset management planning, operations and corporate planning.
Mapstone has senior experience in local government asset management and has been involved in many projects throughout Australia and also in Canada implementing improved asset management practices. This includes work with IPWEA, and a number of Australian state government departments to implement the organisational maturity improvements of the Australian national frameworks for asset management and financial reporting.