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Choosing a Pathway - Examples

Hypothetical examples, based on a series of assumptions, are set out below to illustrate the use of the selection criteria to select the appropriate pathway(s).
Example 1
Checklist Factors:
Organization A serves a population of 100,000 persons or more and the average age of the infrastructure is 50 years.

The asset management initiative is being driven at the engineering or operations level.

There has been a chronic underinvestment in infrastructure assets. The infrastructure system is assessed as being in a borderline state of repair and the financial situation is favorable with respect to bond rating and scope for increasing rates and charges.

The organization has experienced some sanitary sewer overflow (SSO) violations. Planned/preventive maintenance processes are in place and engineering staff recognize the need for risk based strategic planning in order to keep ahead of regulations and aging infrastructure challenges.

Pathway Selection:
Given that the need for asset management implementation is being driven by engineering and operations level staff, Pathway 4, Full Needs Analysis could be premature for this organization.

However, instances where the level of stewardship demonstrated by the engineering, maintenance/operations staff is not reflected in the level of investment in infrastructure usually indicates disconnected AM processes and the need for some improvements in both capital investment decision making and communications between engineering and executive decision makers.

There are likely to be other systemic management issues across the various organization functions.

Investment in a Full Needs Analysis would require involvement from staff across the organization that would require a level of commitment from executive management that Organization A does not have. Recommendations coming out of a Full Needs Analysis would probably be far reaching and involve areas of the organization outside of engineering and operations. Without executive commitment, implementation of these recommendations may not even be considered and payback on the investment may never be realized. Also, without executive commitment, staff participation may not be at the level required to enable a complete and realistic assessment of needs.

The organization serves 100,000 persons, so is considered to be medium sized. If the culture is supportive, it is probably capable of leveraging significant benefits by demonstrating value at the engineering/operations level. The engineering/operations group may be successful in selling this to executive management with a business case for what is needed from other parts of the organization to achieve greater results.

The organization has not yet reached a point where it collectively agrees that a new path forward is required for managing its aging assets in the face of increasing regulatory requirements. If the engineering and operations divisions have the capacity to fund some AM implementation within existing budget allocations, and they also have the required motivation, a combination of pathways could be considered.

Pathway 1 – Problem Asset or System Approach and/or Pathway 7 Step-By-Step AM Plan Approach (the review of problematic assets/systems and the development of asset or system asset management plans) will generate new management information and datasets that will assist executive management decision making. The operations, maintenance and engineering group will be able to demonstrate funding needs packaged in the context of investment, risk, timing, and service levels. This could be particularly helpful in communicating the organization’s needs in terms of future investments and changes in processes and procedures to prevent future SSO violations, for example.

This may create an impetus for change in other areas of the organization - to continually improve the generation of sufficient income and funding options, asset performance and lifecycle costs.

Organization A could couple this effort with Pathway 6: Modified Gap Analysis, limited to the assets under consideration. The Modified Gap Analysis would identify the business case for what the engineering and operations group might need from other parts of the organization in terms of support, such as: changes to the Capital Improvement Program selection process, information systems functionality and managerial accounting enhancements.
Example 2
Checklist Factors:
Organization B serves a population of over 500,000 persons and the average age of the infrastructure is 50 years. An asset management implementation initiative already has full commitment from executive management.

Assets are in a borderline state of repair, and the financial situation is favorable with respect to bond rating and scope for modest rate increase.

There is limited use of AM processes for strategic planning and planned/preventive maintenance. Some AM data is collected and quality assured.

Response times and service standards are below industry benchmarks.

CMMS, Finance, GIS systems are functional, but not fully utilized to support AM.

The organization is customer focused with distributed accountabilities for cost and service level performance. Staff and financial resources are available for AM implementation.

No permit violations have occurred and energy and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions are within normal benchmarks.

Initial discussions with engineering and operations staff indicate skepticism and a lack of change readiness.

Pathway Selection:
The fact that the infrastructure is in a borderline state of repair and the organization has not taken advantage of a healthy financial situation that could have enabled additional investment, coupled with the lack of strategic planning and the reactive maintenance environment, highlights a number of issues:
  • Current management processes and practices are unlikely to be adequate for managing increasing probabilities of failure and risk exposure - the organization is probably already operating under high levels of risk and has likely been very fortunate to date with respect to violations;
  • Significant change management initiatives will be required to bring the organization to a common starting point for moving forward with widespread asset management business transformation; and
  • Information systems are in place, but some re-configuration and change management work will be required to fully utilize their capabilities within a proactive maintenance and asset management environment.
Organization B is a candidate for Pathway 4: Full Needs Analysis, Pathway 6: Modified Gap Analysis, and Pathway 7: Step-By-Step AM Plan Approach, and Pathway 1: Problem Asset or System Approach. A combination of these approaches could be considered.

Since there is full commitment to asset management implementation from the executive management and there are a myriad of issues to address across the organization, Pathway 4: Full Needs Analysis could be considered. The Full Needs Analysis will provide a roadmap of the way forward with prioritized projects based on cost/benefit and payback period. The projects can also be prioritized based on the need to navigate the gamut of cultural, communications and political challenges.

Pathway 6: Modified Gap Analysis could also be chosen if the change readiness of the organization will not support the level of participation that the Full Needs Analysis might require to achieve best results.

The organization might also benefit from Pathway 7: Step-By-Step AM Plan Approach to establish the process of developing a network asset management plan early in the implementation phase. The development, adoption, use, and regular revision of a network asset management plan is usually one of the most important change management activities to undertake. The network asset management plan becomes the control, or the vehicle for directing further asset management implementation initiatives by keeping the implementation process alive and focused.

Pathway 1: Problem Asset or System Approach can be used as a change management tool for demonstrating the value of the process to the engineering, maintenance and operations staff. 
Example 3
Checklist Factors:
Organization C serves a population of 15,000 persons. The organization is customer focused with clear accountabilities assigned for both cost and performance.

The infrastructure suffers from chronic underinvestment and is in a borderline to poor state of repair. There are limited staff and financial resources.

The organization is starting to experience the classic problems associated with an aging and poorly maintained infrastructure system. The treatment plant requires a major overhaul to meet work place health and safety standards, and is in need of an upgrade to meet EPA requirements to avoid further drinking water violations. Distribution network crews are experiencing increasing problems with tuberculation, an inability to find buried valves to isolate the system to repair pipeline breaks, and the need to innovate to get around the lack of available spares to effect system repairs.

There is limited strategic planning or planned/preventive maintenance, and limited information systems tools.

The directive for change is coming from the Executive Director. He is being approached by private system operators interested in engaging in a contract to operate and maintain the system, and he needs to evaluate the options and present them to the elected representatives.

Pathway Selections:
Pathway 7: Step-By-Step AM Plan Approach is probably the Executive Director’s best option. The Step-By-Step AM Plan Approach will give him an asset management plan for his system that will include the capital, maintenance and operations cash-flow requirements moving forward. It will also give him an understanding of other investment needs such as the implementation of routine maintenance procedures, a program to identify where valves are in the field, and methods for determining the appropriate spares inventory.

The asset management plan can be used as a vehicle for consultation with the community regarding the upcoming cost for service and form part of the decision making process regarding private operation.

If the organization and its stakeholders decide that private operation is not the most desirable option, the roadmap developed in the AM Plan can be used to move forward with the projects and funding strategy identified to improve the level of management of the system.

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Choosing a Pathway - Selection Criteria   Effective Implementation