Building an AM Team


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Building an AM Team is like creating a piece of abstract art.  What makes it work?  The choice of colour, shape, positioning, the passion?  All of this, and more!   A practitioner’s eye and experience definitely counts.  This month, Talking Infrastructure is running excerpts from a new USA guide to Building an Asset Management Team, co-written by one of TI’s long-time collaborators, Ruth Wallsgrove, together with Lou Cripps, who heads up the Asset Management Division at the Regional Transportation District in Denver.  It will be available shortly – and we will let you know when and how to get hold of it.

One: Building an Asset Management Team

‘Building an Asset Management Team’ is intended as a practical guide for any infrastructure agency interested improving overall Asset Management.  It is our response to common questions around staffing to perform the functions and competencies required to support an effective Asset Management system.

Asset Management carries the flag for good asset stewardship, the responsibility that comes with managing critical infrastructure assets.  We owe this to current and future generations.

‘Planning brings the future into the present
so we can do something about it now.’

This includes understanding the intergenerational liabilities that are delivered with all longer life assets, and that once something is gone, it can’t always be replaced. We cannot take a better future for granted; we need to work hard each day to bring a better future into reality.

We have to stop making asset decisions in silos, and start to join up the dots.  For example, a decision to electrify a bus fleet has to be made with the full understanding of the interdependencies between fleets and facilities.  The type of propulsion system in buses isn’t a decision that can come from strategic planning or engineering alone.

A basic question for AM practitioners is: And then what? We build a shiny new rail line. What is it going to take to operate and maintain it successfully and sustainably for the next fifty years or more? We buy a new fleet: how will it interact both with the other assets and systems we already have, and with our existing skills and processes?

The Challenge

The challenge for US Transit Agencies, and other sectors wanting to implement Asset Management, is finding the right people and assigning committed resources to its delivery.

Asset Management is increasingly important – yet there are few
experienced AM practitioners, and even fewer useful resources
on how to develop an AM team.

The thirty years since Asset Management began to be established in Australia and New Zealand – and much less time in many places – is not long to establish a stream of trained and experienced people. AM is still not taught at undergraduate level, and only partially on a few post graduate courses up until now.  It isn’t included in the standard curricula of business, finance, engineering, urban planning or other relevant disciplines.

The demand for Experienced AM teams is increasing

Add into these the now legislated requirements in North America for Asset Management, such as Ontario Regulation 588/17, or the US Federal Transportation Administration TAM rules, that require at least knowledge of it in those regulated organizations, and the demand wildly outstrips supply for anyone with any AM experience.

This guide is based on our personal experiences; it reflects the views of us as authors rather than representing our employers, any institution or the wider AM community.  Neither of us could write this document alone.

If you are

  • developing a business case for setting up an AM team,
  • establishing a team,
  • considering where to locate an AM team in the organizational structure, or
  • wondering how to find and attract the staff you need.

this guide will be invaluable.

To come:

  1. Why you need an AM team
  2. What are the key activities of an AM team?
  3. What kind of people does an AM team need?
  4. What is required of an AM lead?

4 Thoughts on “Building an AM Team

  1. Adeyemi John Falade on January 6, 2020 at 1:47 pm said:

    Interesting. In WMS, we are actually in the process of building an Asset Management team. We have started off with a team of graduate engineers supported by a couple of experienced resources. It has been an interesting journey so far culminating with our graduate team delivering the flagship presentation at the end of year event of the WA AMC. Their presentation was widely lauded and applauded.

    In building the team, we have focused on diversity. In this case, not just multicultural diversity but also levels of experience, professional backgrounds and life experiences outside of professional experience. Hence, we have resources in our asset management team who are of non-engineering backgrounds (we keep saying AM is not just engineering but we keep having only engineers in AM teams), but rather come form supply chain, financial management and accounting.

    So far, I am excited about the creativity and innovative thinking we’ve been able to harness from this diversity. I am hoping we will be able to ‘shock’ industry with solutions that look at a problem from every angle.

  2. murray washington on January 9, 2020 at 10:08 am said:

    interested in the guide

  3. Pandian Srinivasan on January 21, 2020 at 3:51 pm said:

    Would love to have the guide, to understand the interplay of AM process knowledge and the domain expertise.
    At what level does the domain expertise cease to be of primary concern and the AM process knowledge becomes the key requirement?
    Refreshing to learn that WMS is breaking away from the stereotype of having engineers only in AM team.

    • Pandian, You will really enjoy the guide. It is like sitting down and having a chat with a very experienced asset manager. I will let you know as soon as it is available.

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