I was wrong. Movement from maintenance to asset management, to strategic asset management is NOT a revolution. Why not?
In 2018, for the IPWEA’s online journal, Jeff Roorda and I sketched out what we saw as the general pattern of these individual journeys and what this suggested about where we would go next. At the time there was a lot of discussion about the third (and for some) the fourth industrial revolution. We needed a sexy title for our paper so we called it ‘The third AM Revolution’.
We saw AM moving from the pre-AM stage of maintenance only to the first stage of data collection, or ‘asset inventory’, to the second stage of performance and alignment, or what we call ’Strategic asset management’ – the stage we believe most of Australia is now in – to a new third stage, our ‘third revolution’ that we are calling ‘infrastructure decision support’.
We now see that ‘revolution’ was the wrong word.
Revolutions have connotations of what was previously important getting the chop – quite literally in the French Revolution! Although each of the three stages we identified are still important because they represent different mindsets and approaches, different groups of players and different techniques, they do not discard what went before. Instead they increase our understanding of their value and make them stronger.
Let’s see how that works.
0. Before AM there was maintenance. Maintenance specialists firmly believed in the value of their work, and they were right. Unfortunately they were unable to convince others, especially finance. When AM came along it provided a framework to demonstrate that not only was maintenance able to fix what was currently broken – it could also help prevent more breaking down in the future. That is why so many maintenance engineers were keen to see AM adopted by their organisations.
1. The first stage of AM, naturally, was to establish an asset inventory. We needed to know what we had to manage.
2. With enough basic data we were enabled to take the next step use the data collected for performance improvement. When we did this, we became much more aware of data quality and coverage. That first stage of data collection did not get the chop, now we wanted more. Instead of data being required simply for a mandated balance sheet (e.g. a storage location) it was increasingly seen as necessary, indeed essential for progress, and so demand for more data, and for data of a higher quality with greater coverage has continued.
3. The coming third stage is what will bring all of these stages – maintenance, data collection and performance improvement or strategic asset management – together, for it is at this third stage that asset managers finally reach the stage that they have desired for a long time. Asset management is able to get (and worth a) place at the board table!
So not a revolution. But what?
We could simply call them ‘three stages’ and be done with it. This, however, would not show the connection between them, how each builds on what went previously, so we are calling them waves, for like waves they build on each other and get stronger.
Why is this important?
Because now that it is so easy to access detailed information about the second wave of strategic asset management or performance improvement (IIMM, PAS55, ISO 55,000) there is a temptation is to dive in at this level. But without attention to the first wave of data collection and without strengthening the pre-AM stage of maintenance, such attempts lead to failure. Under-developed countries wanting, and needing, to do fast catch up with the developed world are at particular risk.
They are being pressured ‘to do asset management’ in order to get the strategic asset management, second wave, benefits but the importance of funding and training at the earlier stages, particularly maintenance is not being recognised and dealt with. Every stage – maintenance/pre-AM, data collection/asset inventory, and strategic asset management/performance improvement or alignment – requires a different focus, different tools, different groups of players.
I will talk about Wave 3 – where we go next – in a later post.
Q: Does this development pattern make sense to you?
Can you recognise it in your own organisation or others? Is it obvious, or do you see an alternative pattern to your own asset management journey?
Coming Next: The Three Waves
Why understanding them can help you move closer to your ultimate goal.
Ten years ago, on LinkedIn’s Asset Management History Forum, I asked “Why bother with history?” It was the most animated discussion on the forum. Now, with ten more years of history behind us, have we learnt more or do you agree with Jan Korek’s view that history is irrelevant?
This was Jan Korek’s opening statement:
“I have never subscribed to the suggestion that you need to know where you’ve been, to know where you’re going! History, to me, is little more than a badly-drawn representation of the past, based on an exaggerated impression of successes….. and an amnesia of the failures.
Having been deeply fascinated by Asset Management for a score or more years, and am still working at the blunt edge of the process, I have had to change, adapt, forget much and learn more along the way. So what do practitioners, or the process, gain from a knowledge of when (or why) some obscure government department became notionally interested in the stewardship of infrastructure assets? I would suggest very little.
Anyone who has been in Asset Management for a period of time will have grown their own unique history based on any number of influences. So what is to be achieved in distilling each individual story into an homogenised, badly-drawn fiction? Experience shows that we even fail to avoid the mistakes of the past, even when we know the history involved. The news, each day, is full of such examples.
What seems more important is the future, “Where are we now”, and “Where to from here”? Or to put it another way, you need to know where you are now, to know where your going.”
A compelling set of arguments.
Opening for the other side was John Hardwick.
What a start to the year you go away for a couple of days and a great discussion begins. I can only say that everything i have implemented has come from others.
I have implemented knowing what worked and what didn’t. I have used this to significantly change the way my organisation does Asset Management. I am only new in comparison to many of you but it is your collective knowledge i have used.
Also I have used your history and stories that have helped many other companies not make the same mistakes. I am a strong believer that we learn from our mistakes and not to make them again.
If this is the case it is critical for new organisations implementing Asset Management to have access to some of the good the bad and the failures.
I have given more then 20 organisations access to my staff and myself over the last twelve months to learn from what we have done and the mistakes we made. The best part is I learnt so much in return it has been amazing.
History allows us to tell stories that help others conceptualise their path to hopefully a more successful future.
Also a compelling set of arguments.