Why you need an Asset Management Plan
As municipalities continue to feel the pinch of budget constraints, the importance of a comprehensive asset management plan becomes more and more critical. A good asset management plan is scalable and flexible to allow for future growth, and enables managers to anticipate and track problems in key systems. It should answer the following questions:
- What assets are in the system?
- Where are they all located?
- What is their value?
- When were they built?
- What is their predicted lifespan?
Answers to these important questions, gives managers the information they need to begin to predict and calculate life cycle costs – a detailed breakdown of investment and initial cost, operating expenses, maintenance and disposal costs. This information can also be used to work with planners and make projections of future requirements, figuring in the cost of current service and extrapolating that to any expected increases or decreases down the road. Taken as a whole, your asset management plans evolve into a long-term financial planning tool.
Tools for Asset Management
A generation ago, an asset management plan meant ledgers, plat books and maps in the basement of a building. Today, technology has come full circle and asset management can be done with GIS mapping and programs like WebDPW®. Taken as a whole, these tools are invaluable to putting together an entire Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) program. They make it easier to coordinate departments, reconcile costs, track problems and keep a running inventory of your assets.
These programs provide much more than a 2-D map representation. Modern mapping systems can display inter-connectivity, proximity, dimensions and other information as an accurate model and virtual visualization of the real world. They can serve as a geo database and be integrated with data assessment tools that break down and categorize, index, sort and tabulate information.
These tools are invaluable in moving away from short-term repair and reactive work to long-term life cycle management for assets like roads, bridges, water, and storm drain utilities. They’re logical, cost-effective and comprehensive in ways that maps and plat books could never be. You can refer to them for insights on maintenance history, monitoring and condition, which is crucial for critical assets like water mains.
Along with the pinch of budget constraints, another upcoming challenge for municipalities is ensuring that their infrastructure keeps pace with growth and increases in population. The decline of American infrastructure is a well-documented problem, and many cities continue to grow far beyond what their roads, bridges, water/wastewater, electrical grids and other systems were designed to handle. As these assets age, their maintenance, rehabilitation and eventual replacement is more and more important. Planners and managers can’t avail themselves of enough tools and systems to keep on top of these changes, and tools like GIS and WebDPW are invaluable.
The one thing that no municipality wants to ever face is a disorganized mess of information on their infrastructure if a natural disaster should ever strike. With a sensible and comprehensive asset management plan in place, that’s something they should never have to deal with. It’s important to make sure that a robust and well-developed asset management system is part of doing business, not only for unforeseen things like natural disasters, but for day-to-day and year-to-year operations. The alternative, patched-together and incomplete information from maps and papers, is a system whose time has come and gone. At this point, it only makes sense to modernize and use the technology that’s available.