Ruth Wallsgrove and Lou Cripps continue their series on Building an Asset Management Team. Their book is to be published in February. More information to come.
Two: Why you need an AM team
Experience around the world over nearly 30 years strongly suggests the need for a specific, dedicated AM team to be accountable for the implementation and improvement of asset decision, asset risk and long-term optimized asset planning processes.
You can’t just think things better. To improve, there must be action,
and people with responsibility for those actions.
Specifically, ISO 55000 defines AM as the ‘coordinated’ activities of an organization to realize value from its assets. Co-ordination takes real effort, not just a general wish to co-ordinate.
This is no different than other functional teams within your organization where expertise and specialization deliver value. If it is your plan to deliver the AM capabilities, you need to be intentional in adding this competency to your organization.
The likelihood of hitting a target you haven’t specified
or aren’t aiming at is low.
Without a focal point, organizations struggle to do more than isolated improvements, and generally lack a framework or structure to bring together the different activities around assets.
What most will fail to achieve, without at least a small dedicated team, includes:
- The development of whole life strategies for the assets
- Integrated long term asset planning: someone has to do the co-ordination, develop the processes, and build the relationships across functions to bring them together
- Asset risk management beyond safety, general corporate risks, or a high level risk register
- Ownership of the Asset Management system and AM objectives
Take it seriously
It also looks fairly impossible to implement good Asset Management if you have no-one who knows much about it. Rule of thumb: you need at least two people who have been on an Asset Management course to begin.
We might go further and suggest that if there is no-one who is prepared to identify as an Asset Management professional, dedicated to getting themselves and their colleagues developed in Asset Management skills, a company doesn’t really know what to do or how to go about it.
It is easy in this area to be unconsciously incompetent – not even to know what you don’t know.
If no-one in the organization really knows what Asset Management means, they can be sold a line by, a consultant who doesn’t know either. Real examples include organizations who decided Asset Management is an implementation of work management IT, a.k.a. an ‘Enterprise Management System’; or that it equates to reliability-centered maintenance (RCM). Both are very useful tools, but they aren’t a transformation of the business in themselves, and can be expensive, painful and applied wrongly.
Asset Management is about people, relationships, assets and strategies. You need an AM leader that has some knowledge of each. Leadership is a skillset beyond technical knowledge or management proficiencies. So it is worth careful thought about who can deliver this to the organization.
AM is a better way to manage our asset base overall.
For an asset-intensive sector like Public Transit,
that means how we do business overall.
In this article (Why you need an AM Team) you have identified that if the “Rule of thumb: you need at least two people who have been on an Asset Management course to begin” and in the previous article (Why you need an AM Team) you identify “AM is still not taught at undergraduate level, and only partially on a few post graduate courses up until now.” You also mention relevant disciplines, one wonders what these are? In fact most people in my AM circle do not have any qualifications one might see as relevant. The fact that AM is not being taught as a subject identifies that AM is not being considered an academic stream of knowledge or a profession in its own right. When an AM Team is built up of only Engineers or Accountants then only those functions of AM get detailed consideration and the focus of the outcomes is deflected.
This also materializes in what department the AM Team ends up in. I have colleagues working for Finance, Operations, Infrastructure, Parks and Gardens and usually a bit down the hierarchy, many time to the point where they are an appendage and do not influence decision making. I have found too that everything ends up an assets problem, but managers are not willing to find or accept the asset solution. This I believe is symptomatic with the way business gets done and the lack of an AM profession.
Academic recognition at Undergraduate, Post Graduate and also the Technical level needs to occur and creating a profession for AM will give it credibility and a standardized Body of Knowledge and then this can become embedded in an organization, however not giving it the teeth required may just end up a case of ticking the compliance box without achieving anything.
Hi Ashley. Thanks for this. Do you have a solution to this problem you have raised?
The part I don’t know the answer to is how does a field of study get academic/professional recognition? If you can get a degree in surfing then why isn’t there a degree in Infrastructure Asset Management? You already know my passion about technical qualifications, and I am trying to do something in that area, as most practitioners would be at this level and probably don’t want to or need to do a three year degree course. Many of the skills required already exist as part of other courses anyway. The key is having professional/academic recognition, because I think after this occurs and with the current interest in IAM the hierarchical problems will resolve. And yes I would like to help make this happen.