On 21 January 2020, Ross Waugh and Heather Himmelberger held another Ask-the-Experts webinar titled, “Infrastructure Asset Management – How to Start.” Inframanage.com presents the webinar topics through a series of blog posts.
We did get a fair number of questions about asset management or CMMS, which is computerized maintenance management system software.
We did get a fair number of questions. We did not want to put them upfront because again we want people to be aware as much as possible, it is about thinking. It is not about the technology.
It does not mean there is not a place for technology and that technology is not helpful because it is very helpful or can be very helpful.
But it’s really important to understand that software is not asset management. It is a tool to help you do your asset management thinking, but it is not one and the same.
So, we wanted to make sure that nobody got the wrong impression that it is about the software.
So we wanted to share just a few words about the fact that you need to have some ideas of what it is you want the software to do before you even go down that path.
Like why do I want a software if I’ve had places tell me why I want just to put in a bunch of data, push a button and it does everything for me? Well, that is not what software is about.
Yes, I think we all love that. It makes our job a whole lot easier but the computers, even with artificial intelligence, they are not going to replace you.
You still need to be thinking. The computer is not out in the field, and the computer does not have all the knowledge. You do. It has some of it.
But you need to think about why you want a piece of software. What are you going to use it for?
And think that through before you go down this path. And you shouldn’t have the idea that right away, right at the beginning if I’m going to do asset management, I have to buy something.
You want to work your way into that by looking at:
- What are you going to get out of the software?
- What are those outputs you want out?
- What inputs would you have to have to get that out?
- Could you even do that?
- Do you have the people, the data, the resources to do that?
- What is the money you have available to do this because almost every piece of software is going to cost you something?
There isn’t that many free software that does a whole range of asset management things but doesn’t cost you any money.
Some would do, as an inventory for you pretty well. Some low-cost apps help well with inventories and things like that. So you can look there.
If you want a more robust program that does capital planning and maintenance and works order systems and that, you are probably looking at paying some money. And you’re not just going to pay upfront. You’re going to pay annually because most software now there’s an annual fee.
So, you have to think about, do I have the resources available to pay for a piece of software over time? Because if you don’t, then going down this path is probably not going to be very helpful in the long term because you are not wanting to keep investing.
There’s also quite a significant organizational cost around the people to manage the software and to make sure you’re getting the data or the information in. It’s in the right quality.
All that sort of stuff you must deal with otherwise, there’s a very very old saying with software, garbage in, garbage out. And you have to get your head around all of those sorts of issues. And they do impose a cost on an organization over some time
And then the last thing that I want to say about because I know we’re just about out of time, is, that I’m asked all the time what should I buy?
And that is not a question that is possible to answer without going through a thorough investigation of what it is you want to do, what it is you want to get out of it?
Your technical capabilities, your IT, all of that sort of stuff because not every piece of software is the same. It’s not just a matter of I’m buying the same thing, but who am I buying it from? Everybody’s software is slightly different from everybody else’s.
So you have actually to go through a thorough process. If you do, I believe you will come up with software that you like, that fits what you want to do. You can’t short circuit that process. You do need to move on and go forward to do an RFP (request for proposal).