noun [sis-tuh m]
a set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole.
You might be able to chart the location of assets on a map, record their depreciation in an asset register spreadsheet or bring up a calendar of the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule. But an optimised system will remain elusive until this information comes together through integration, is available real-time for action in the field and informs decision making aligned with your business strategy.
In working with clients to develop an asset management strategy and system roadmap, we’ve found the need to optimise asset management practices is most often triggered by one or more of the following pain points:
1. Relying on spreadsheets
Keeping an asset register in spreadsheet format might be a logical place to start….but it’s not very scalable. As a static document, spreadsheets are time consuming to keep updated, and unless they are well controlled and distributed, there’s no guarantee that everyone will be working from the same version. Management by spreadsheet lacks alerts and notifications for scheduled maintenance as well as the ability to link multiple pieces of information (such as condition reports, meter readings or photographs) back to the main asset entry.
2. Ageing technologies
We often see organisations locked in to superseded databases or technologies due to extensive customisation or integration in the past that makes the cost to upgrade prohibitive. The result is low confidence in the quality of data coming out of the system and escalating effort required execute common functions. As technologies age, risks increase (particularly security risks as databases or operating systems pass out of vendor support) and access to the technical skills required to support and maintain the system becomes difficult.
This can often become a vicious circle….without being able to upgrade to latest release software, more and more customisation is required to keep pace with common features and functionality, such as field force automation.
3. Limited integration
When asset management systems live in isolation from other business data and processes, both quality and efficiency take a hit. Actual costs of completing a job is not known, and decisions based on asset utilisation, inventory and resource availability become more educated guess than informed fact.
On the flip side, poorly architected integration although achieving its objectives in the short term can be just as problematic in the long run. Complex, point-to-point integration becomes difficult to maintain and often contributes to platform lock in and ageing technology as discussed at point 2.
4. Manual data collection
When you rely on field or control centre staff to enter manually that which can be captured automatically, through sensors or mobile devices, the consequences include:
- High use of time on low value tasks;
- Lack of confidence in data quality;
- Limited availability of resources for process improvement initiatives; and
- Heightened risk of non-compliance.
Implementing asset management systems and technologies is undoubtedly a huge step towards redressing these symptoms. But it’s not necessarily the end-goal. Recognition of the human and change management elements of successful asset management, along with the discipline of continual improvement are critical success factor on the journey to optimised asset management.
Feature image supplied courtesy of Unitywater.