ASSET MANAGEMENT KEY TO BETTER BUSINESS OUTCOMES
Done badly, asset management can be nothing more than a generator of fluff, jargon, and useless paperwork. Done well, it cuts through all of that, providing a clear focus on what is important, and a practical structure for truly useful ways of working to achieve value
So, how do we achieve focus, not fluff? There are of course many answers to this question. For the sake of brevity, let’s look at just three:
1. Start with what is working well, and build from there
It’s surely not a stretch to say that every organisation managing physical assets today is doing something well. Conversely, very few of these same organisations have managed to fully integrate all of their asset management activities into a clear, coherent, joined-up framework. The key is to get started somewhere, and this is different for every organisation. Spot something working well which isn’t part of the “official” process? Take the time to investigate and understand what is generating successful outcomes, then integrate this into an asset management framework and roll out to the relevant parts of the wider organisation. This approach is not mutually-exclusive with the top-down “start with objectives” approach, which is of course critical, and should inform all asset management. Linking the two approaches is simple: how do you decide what is “working well”? By assessing outcomes against the relevant objectives.
2. Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler
One of those hundreds of quotes attributed to Einstein (ironically, in a simplified form!). In any case, it’s a great principle for asset management, on several levels. It should be used as a continual check, because organisations are always changing. When the level of complexity/simplicity doesn’t match what is required from a system or process, we run the risk of misunderstandings, errors, frustration, inefficiency, or just brain fatigue. For example: bloated data collection requirements mean unnecessary costs and may obscure what is really important. But, streamline them too much and you may realise down the line that vital information for decision-making isn’t available. Achieving the right balance of complexity/simplicity is not easy, but it is critical to truly successful asset management. It is especially important when matching asset management processes/systems to the asset management maturity of an organisation.
3. Use the right tools for the job
Another saying: “To someone with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” It’s important not to be led by the tools we use for asset management, but rather to make them work for us. If it turns out that’s not feasible, maybe new tools are required. This is a key area where having clear asset management objectives is critical, as these should guide procurement/development processes to ensure the organisation obtains the right tools for the job. We need to ask, and answer, the question: what are the desired benefits? Also, consider what is necessary to achieve those benefits – taking the example of software: are we willing to invest in the training and support required? Will we ensure that input data will be collected and made available? Harnessing asset management tools towards achieving objectives is a fundamental part of any serious asset management plan.