Before moving on to a different topic, Heather and Ross discussed a question on asset management staffing that a participant presented.
It is a staffing question. Who does your asset management? Is there someone that is specifically assigned to it that doesn’t do anything else?
So, this is a question kind of asking like, do you have to have an asset manager, and then you turn over all your asset management program to that person, or is everybody involved?
So I think that’s an interesting question about staffing. Ross, why don’t you take it away, talking about staffing.
Yes. I think the observation over the last 20 years in New Zealand is, particularly with the smaller systems is there’s somebody who has the title of engineer. It might be an operations engineer or city engineer, whatever it is.
And maybe they have quite a small staff, and they’re doing a lot of day to day stuff because that’s what they are resourced to do. And they found out about asset management. They go, this is a good thing, we want to do this.
In New Zealand, we’re mandated to do asset plans on a three-year cycle because that’s our political cycle. And so, this requirement to have a plan updated every three years.
And I’ve had a very successful business for the last 20 years helping people that haven’t quite got there because, best intentions in the world, operations tramps planning.
You’re not going to have a phone call that says the pipe is broken or a pump has broken, get up and I can’t deal with that in two or three weeks because I am doing this plan. That just not how the world works.
So, it is good to have the people who are involved, operationally involved in asset management. It is vital to have those people involved. But often, they don’t have the time to sit down and write the plans.
So, I think that’s where having a spacious resource if you can, if you’re big enough to have one resource, that’s good. But you want to make sure that they don’t get isolated like in a little silo.
Or you get some external resource, which is what we do of our smaller utility consultants. They get us in for a few weeks or a month every couple of years to help them in.
Probably what I would advise against is getting somebody else to write this thing entirely with no input because that will just sit on the shelf. That’s just a compliance document. It’s the thinking process that’s important, I think.
Heather, your team, had been involved for a long time now, helping people walk their way through the ins and outs of asset management and do the thinking; that’s where the real games are.
Yes, I think that sort of the name thing with the staffing is you have to have everybody involved. Their asset management can work because essentially, everybody does asset management.
So, you ask, whose job it is to do asset management?
The answer is everybody.
Whether you are one person or 500 people or 5,000 people, everybody has a role in asset management.
You might be doing data collection. You might be doing operations. You might be doing maintenance, but everybody is touching the asset management program.
So, what you want to avoid is having one person or two people sitting in a room somewhere, well those are my asset managers, and the rest of us can ignore it because they are taking care of it. No, it doesn’t work that way.
Ross: That doesn’t work well that way.
Exactly. It doesn’t work well that way.
So, on the one hand, you don’t want this one or two people sitting somewhere doing asset management, ignoring everybody else. So everybody needs to be involved.
You also don’t want to make it so that nobody is really in charge of it because that doesn’t work so well either.
So, you kind of wants somebody’s responsibility as the overall planning or the overall sustainability of the program, making sure you keep it running. But everybody has a role, and everybody fits in and a part of the program.
And look just a wee example of one of my clients, which they’re a medium to larger size authority in New Zealand, and they had a role for a single asset manager across the whole organization.
Their job was to do the policy development and do the templates, and they update templates for each year fitting in with the core per policy requirements and things like that. And be the internal resource for the line operations and management teams.
I’ve got involved because they want me to coach the line team people and it worked, that worked well because there was corporate information coming out for the whole organization that people go, right, I’ve got to fill this thing out and get it done.
The organization also realized that there was a need for training and coaching and mentoring for staff that perhaps haven’t had very much exposure to that process. But the whole idea was to get the internal ownership going right across the teams. It takes time, but it’s been relatively successful.