Straightening things out: how to survive an audit of your asset management department

By ASSET e-news posted 11 March 2015 18:02


How Mildura Rural City Council has gone above and beyond to meet government standards for asset management.

In 2010, Mildura Regional Council was faced with a dilemma. The council was assessed under the new National Asset Management Assessment Framework (NAMAF) and found to be wanting in regards to skills and processes.

“There were a number of areas where Council received a less than favourable score, one of these being skills and processes where our score was 42.5 out of a target of 100,” said Mildura Regional City Council Asset Engineer Ken Conrick.

In order to meet government’s stringent asset management standards, Council was required to:
•    Complete a skills matrix
•    Identify skills gaps and required training needs
•    Refer training needs to HR department/staff appraisal process
•    Training programs identified and scheduled
•    Produce an up-to-date asset management matrix

Alongside the NAMAF review, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Report from February 2014 placed a strong emphasis on the importance of increasing skills and knowledge in asset management departments.

Meeting requirements

In response to NAMAF and the Auditor-General’s comments, Council identified IPWEA’s Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning as a base qualification for a Band 5 Technical Officer, in addition with completion of IPWEA Practice Note workshops appropriate to the asset class with which they were working.

Council engaged a consultant to facilitate and assist in the writing of three of the required asset management plans at a cost of $15,000 per plan.

“The six participants of the course would complete the remaining Asset Management Plan in-house,” said Conrick, saving the council $3,480 in consultancy costs.

Staff sent on the course included four team members from Asset Services, one from Financial Services and one from Recreational Services.

“The objective of the training was to equip the participants with the skills and tools to write their own asset management plan and [learn to] generate expenditure projections for input into Council’s financial model,” said Conrick.

In action

IPWEA’s online course is delivered in eight modules over 11 weeks. Participants can interact with presenters and other participants during online ‘live’ sessions and are required to complete coursework to achieve the accreditation.

Mildura Rural City Council’s team of participants is already implementing the skills they learned from the online course.

Senior Technical Officer (Asset Management) Sharyn Dowdy would like to do more modeling and analysing data at the council, after completing the course.

“[The course] has given me a greater understanding and practical example of the importance of good data.”

She appreciated being sent on the course alongside her colleagues as it allowed her to share knowledge between staff of different levels, skills and departments.

“This has meant that not only can we apply the new skills to our job, but we better understand how the information and results of modeling impact other areas of the council,” she said.

Technical Officer Asset Management Bianca Smith said she learned how to utilise NAMS Plus templates through the course.

“This has given us direction and a better focus of how we collect and manage our assets and completing our Asset Management Plans.”

Technical Officer Hayley Finch said writing her own asset management plan for the course, gave her a greater understanding of her council's existing plans.
"I would definitely recommend [the course]. It is something that will help you gain further insight into establishing AMP as well as understanding existing plans already adopted in your council."

Conrick said the course gave his staff an appreciation of the importance of data quality and its impact on the final result.

“[The course] helped get all team members up to the base minimum level of asset management knowledge and helped to show them how their particular role in the organization fitted into the bigger picture and how the work they do feeds into Council’s financial and operational plans.”


IPWEA Professional Certificate in Asset Management Planning

Where: Online

When: Each 'live event' session is 90 minutes supported by class participation over the following week.

Live Events: 17/3, 24/3, 31/3, 2wk break, 14/4, 21/4, 2wk break, 5/5, 12/5, 19/5.

The 'live event' session is also later available to participants as a recording to catch up or review.


 A$2,750 per participant (incl. GST)
 A$2,500 per participant (GST doesn't apply)

Group discount of 20% off total cost available for 6+ registrations from same organisation.

To register for the course or more information click here




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