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Inhibitors to Creating an Asset Management Program – A View From Inexperienced “Starters”

Facilitated work sessions with two groups of public agency participants (Group 1 being the less experienced or “AM Starters” Group, and Group 2 being the experienced or “AM Veterans” Group) in the SAM Challenge identified some commonalities in initial success factors.

When asked how an agency can get started in asset management, and what the agency should consider or be aware of to ensure that its asset management program gets off to a successful start, the AM Starters Group, or Group 1, identified these success factors:
  • Management commitment – management needs to understand that asset management is a process and not a project and has a long term focus. The approach to implementing asset management must be tailored to suit the individual utility;
  • Policy to implement asset management from governing body – asset management will only succeed where the governing body has made a commitment to provide funding support for the program;
  • Defined benefits to stakeholders – the benefits from an asset management program must be clearly explained to all stakeholders, and ratepayers;
  • Information technology systems that support knowledge management are essential ingredients in implementation of an asset management program;
  • Adequate resources must be made available to implement asset management – staff should be solely dedicated to asset management implementation and it should not be added to their regular duties;
  • Training and education should take place at all levels in the organization;
  • There must be adequate long term capital investment commitment by the governing body;
  • Internal champions, who promote the benefits of asset management should be identified at all levels in the organization;
  • Ways to measure progress towards implementation must be identified
  • The organization should have access to the various WERF asset management tools available through SIMPLE (Sustainable Infrastructure Management Program Learning Environment);
  • A realistic plan for implementation of asset management must be developed that takes into account resource availability and the unique circumstances at the utility. The plan should be phased with prioritized actions and must be flexible to accommodate changes as asset management knowledge improves over time; and 
  • A commitment must be made to continuous improvement in asset management so that decisions are made with an increasing level of confidence over time.
Experience shows that a structured approach to incorporation of the success factors helps with organizational change and long term organizational learning. For example, establishing asset management policies early that involve embedding asset management processes in the business planning and capital improvement planning cycles provides a monitored mechanism for change that often requires only an augmentation of existing processes. Continuous improvement in asset management is then kept alive by including asset management factors in process performance management and continuous improvement activities around the newly augmented business planning and capital improvement planning processes.

In addition, audit tools, like SAM-Gap and those that meet such international standards as the United Kingdom’s PAS 55 standards can be used to monitor asset management implementation on an ongoing basis. However, the organization may want to develop some internal monitoring methods to address the changing internal and external inhibitors to successful asset management implementation. 

SAM Challenge public agency participants were asked to identify the key external and internal inhibitors or road blocks and how those inhibitors have been and might be successfully managed or mitigated.

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Critical Success Factors   External Inhibitors