Sharing lessons New Zealand learned in developing asset inventory, Ross shared that often people just get involved in far too much detail in the initial building of their asset inventory.
Sometimes they just try to do the 100 percent high level of detail, then they get bogged down. Since they don’t have the human resources or the contract resources to continue, they never get it finished.
Ross said there were many instances in New Zealand that this happened and he intimated that the same instance is true in the US. He mentioned some notable cases like that where people undertook asset inventory for maybe three or four years and never finished.
Important things to remember in developing an asset inventory
Based on Ross’ experience, here are some indicators:
- If you can’t do the initial inventory build in six months you’re not doing it right.
- Even three months but if you haven’t started yet, just give it a hit.
- Do it over a level of detail that allows you to finish in three to six months.
- This will form the basis of all the rest of your analyses around asset management.
Heather advised that one doesn’t need to collect asset information that won’t be valued. She outlined:
- If you’re not going to use the information for something you don’t need to collect it. Like what Ross said, if you would just get started on a level that you feel comfortable with, then you can always add to it later.
- If you want to add some extra fields or extra information about an asset you can always add to it later.
- If you start down the path of collecting too much, you won’t be able to complete it.
Lessons learned from actual asset inventory experiences
Heather related about one particular authority that was going to put in approximately 45 different pieces of data about an asset and realized they can’t do it after working on the first five assets.
So they regrouped and said, “We really only need about maybe six to ten pieces of information depending on the asset.” They resolved that they are not going to collect everything now and if they need something later they can go back and add it.
Heather emphasized that infrastructure asset management practitioners don’t need to make asset inventory so complicated that they can’t get it done.
Asset inventory is really about collecting the information that you think will be valuable to you in your asset management program and you feel comfortable that you know the stuff that you have access to.
Ross narrated his experience doing asset inventory building back in the mid-90s and a really good tip is to pick quite a small area of the utility or field. He explains:
If you’ve got a number of towns that you’re looking after, choose one of those smaller towns. Because the principle is, you can put that into your asset register really quick and then have a look at it.
Pick something small and do a pilot test – get your data capture sorted in the pilot test, and your data information levels. Then everybody agrees that that’s what we want, that’s what we need.
As you gather data and discover that it isn’t right for your needs, it’s really quick to redo or to do over again. Don’t be afraid of some trial and error in this pilot testing phase.
Then apply it to your bigger areas once you got that sorted out. If you do the pilot, get everybody in agreement with the data sets, level of detail, and level of accuracy and what works well for you as an organization. Completing a good pilot really de-risks the total asset inventory build.