Asset management decisions come into focus for local government during Covid-19

By intouch * posted 23-07-2020 08:35


A solution to make sure that every public dollar goes further

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt across all industries, and businesses and organisations are having to adjust to the 'new normal'; adopting different approaches and carefully watching budgets. Australia’s local government entities are often the first point of contact with their communities, playing a crucial role in supporting local businesses and communities to respond to the pandemic. Many local bodies are looking closely how they operate, and what changes need to be made to face this ‘new normal’. 

In order to meet the challenges presented by Covid-19, local governments and other organisations need to start business continuity planning, so that they can better understand current objectives, costs, resource allocation and assets. This includes taking into consideration any potential impacts on asset management and associated maintenance programs.

Key in this planning will be identifying every possible way to gain efficiencies around spending, and one of those is maximising the value of all an organisation's assets, particularly its built assets. This is achieved through asset tracking, which helps to save time and money by spending as efficiently as possible, as well as enabling organisations to make the best asset management decisions.

As technology has advanced, so has asset management. Digital transformation has seen the development of highly innovative solutions, and it's these that local governments and organisations need to harness in order to generate the kind of data needed to gain efficiencies, minimise waste and save time and money.

Are you equipped to respond?

Good asset management in a local government context requires having the knowledge to choose the right projects at the right time for the right reasons. It’s a complex task where you need a good methodology, data and systems. In basic terms, it is first knowing what you've got before you start planning what you need.

Now more than ever, local governments need to effectively manage their asset portfolios so that they are better equipped to deliver more meaningful and sustainable outcomes to their communities, customers and other stakeholders. The potential use cases for asset tracking are vast. For example, sensors attached to waste disposal bins can provide real-time data on how many people are using them in different areas and when, which enables councils to allocate resources more efficiently.

Asset management is integral to strategic, operational, service, and financial planning. It links together an organisation’s objectives with the levels of service needed to deliver them, the work required on the assets to sustain those levels of service, and the finances needed to support that work. It requires a planned approach, which relies on good quality data. Organisations need to be able to analyse their network of assets to determine the work it needs. Financial planning also depends on accurate asset valuations that use reliable asset data.

The Covid-19 crisis means that local governments need to be able to make the best decisions they can around their assets, which is why it's essential to have an asset management solution in place that's designed to meet their specific needs.

Buildings.PLUS - bridging the gap between maintaining building assets and managing budgets


IPWEA have developed a web-based asset management solution that helps local governments to manage their data and improve decision-making. Buildings.PLUS has been specifically designed for teams that are responsible for asset management, facility management and property management in any type of organisation that has a significant portfolio of buildings. It is also designed for managers of other assets including parks open spaces, playgrounds, recreational centres, houses and educational facilities. Using a structured approach based on a proven methodology, it enables organisations to justify their budgets based on evidence and a risk-based lifecycle model.

Key features include:

  • An automated lifecycle and predictive model: The software utilises collected data and the Building Component Guidelines (BCGs) to calculate the remaining lives of components, providing a 20 year (and beyond) forecast
  • Current BCGs: At the heart of Buildings.PLUS are the Building Component Guidelines listed in Practice note 3: Buildings. It provides guidance for the surveyor with component names, useful lives, criticalities and gross replacement costs.
  • Mobile app: an in-the-field feature that allows onsite data collection and conditions assessments
  • Reporting: A valuation report, which calculates the remaining life and depreciated replacement cost of assets, as well as a series of onscreen and PDF reports, including a site level summary report, component report and expenditure report. It also has the functionality to interrogate and report component level data

Because Buildings.PLUS is a web-hosted application, it means that organisations can reduce or even eliminate IT expenditure and maintenance. It's also an industrial strength solution and scalable; it's a ‘lite’ version of the full SPM Assets software, providing many of the key features needed for managing building assets.

Buildings.PLUS out in the real world - what are Australian local bodies saying?

As asset managers in councils and other local government bodies know, buildings often require a different approach than other asset types. Over 30 forward-thinking Australian councils are using Buildings.PLUS to help them plan buildings that will ‘last forever’.

"Buildings are different to other types of infrastructure assets and they need to be treated differently,” says SPM Assets CEO Steve Lyons, whose company has been providing asset management planning solutions to local governments for over 20 years. “From an asset management perspective, there might be 200 different components making up one small building, from electrical to mechanical to painting to fabric – some complex, some simple."

Australian local bodies that are currently using Buildings.PLUS are able to assess, identify and describe the components that make up their buildings. The Ku-ring-gai Council's Building Asset Manager has been using the solution to better understand their buildings, and to produce informative reports. It's also making a difference in their programming and works, having done away with paper and spreadsheets, and making use of fully populated templates that are easy to build.

Article1_digital-twins.jpg"Buildings.PLUS has enabled us to prioritise components and look at bundling capital works into a single program for each component group," says Building Asset Coordinator Andrew Heathcote. "For example, we reviewed one of our more critical component types such as roofing. We produced programs to replace gutters and down pipes that were past their end of life and in poor condition."

Simon Tratt, Manager of Property Assets at Dubbo Regional Council, has been using Buildings.PLUS for over five years. "I find it a powerful and easy-to-use asset management system for our Council building assets," he says. "I enjoy its in-built flexibility which enables it to be adapted to capture any asset."

Many councils also use Buildings.PLUS to run their renewal and safety uses, as well as using it as a basis for reporting and budgeting.

As we progress through the Covid-19 era and beyond, quality asset management will become increasingly critical for local government bodies, as it plays a vital role in decision-making and service delivery. To respond to the crisis effectively, organisations must maximise the value of their assets, in order to reduce waste, save time and money, and optimise the services they offer to their communities.

If you'd like to learn more about how Buildings.PLUS can improve your asset management and decision-making, get in touch and we'll start a discussion around your asset management requirements.