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Taking the Mystery Out of Asset Management (1 of 3)

August 13, 2019

How Mature Is Your Asset Management Program?

By Kevin Miller, Strategic Consultant, POWER Engineers
Kevin Miller of POWER Engineers

The first of three articles that discuss asset management as it applies to effective utility business processes.

“Wherever you go, there you are” is not just the title of a best-selling book. It’s also a phrase that applies to the journey toward maturity. For the purposes of this article, I’d like to apply “wherever you go, there you are” to asset management maturity.

There are several good definitions of the Asset Management Maturity Model to help you understand where you are with regards to our Asset Management practices. We all start somewhere on the continuum, so before you try to advance your practices, it’s important to accurately access where you are in order to understand the steps necessary to move forward.

All asset management programs are built on three foundational components: data, practices, and analysis. To determine next steps, you should consider the state of these three components within your asset management practice.

I believe that data is the key component for moving forward. Addressing the data component is often the first step that we need to take to advance our asset management program. Because of the advancement of GIS, most of us have data. It may not be good data or complete data however.

Data needed for asset management can also exist in other systems or formats outside of GIS. Simply pulling that information into accessible systems can make a big difference in the data portion of the equation. Once the data is accessed and analyzed, the quality and completeness of the data can be assessed.

As a systems manager at a major investor-owned utility, I can remember working with distribution business unit managers to understand how we could evolve our distribution asset management program. We had GIS in place and asset information in several systems in addition to GIS.

Our challenge was pulling the data together. We needed information in an accessible format and system to understand the condition of the data. The high cost of asset management software at that time and the expense of accomplishing an asset management project were significant problems. Just to determine the quality and usefulness of our data, we had to make a significant spend.

Today things are significantly different. Software systems are available at a much lower entry price and are designed to operate within GIS and our other existing systems. This means that no matter where you are in the Asset Management Maturity Model, you can implement systems that bring your data together and allow you to develop the practices that will move your asset management practice forward.

Systems available today lower the cost bar to pull data into a single source of the truth. Once  information is blended from multiple systems, utilities can access data and develop practices to enhance their asset management program at the same time. With cost and access barriers removed, the next step is choosing a partner who understands both asset management and the software required to move forward efficiently with asset management program development.

Graph of Asset Management Maturity Levels

Graphic: Copyright 2013 The Institute of Asset Management

Next in this series: I’ll share how to establish a solid set of business goals to guide your asset management development and how to win the essential support of senior management. In the meantime, please reach out to me if you have any questions about asset management or sign up for a link to our registration page for POWER’s next webinar on asset management solutions. You can also view our most recent webinar on demand.

About the Author:

Kevin Miller is a strategic consultant in our Geospatial and Asset Management Business Unit. He started his career with FirstEnergy where he worked for 23 years in GIS, asset management, design, and capital projects. For the last 13 years Kevin has provided expert guidance to customers, product development and sales teams to develop solutions that apply technology and process improvement to achieve business value. He understands the utility business and the systems that support the business at utilities and has worked with many of the largest utilities in North America.