In the previous post, Heather discussed how asset management should not be an additional workload and advised against hiring more people to do it.
Ross explains how getting and relying on the CMMS or any software could result in more complexity in doing asset management.
I think the thing, I’ve done a lot of work with CMMS over the last 20 years, and in fact the International Infrastructure Management Manual, I wrote for that section, in the data management section. They can become beasts, these systems.
And if you, often you’ll have a vendor that’s trying to sell you their system that will solve all your problems. That’s usually the sales pitch and you get told you have to feed them a whole sort of information that, and I think you can get just like the hamster on the treadmill with that stuff.
You can spend countless hours feeding them and you don’t necessarily get what you want out of the other end.
I think there are two very good pieces of advice around it. One is, keep it very simple initially and the second is start small.
Do a pilot program or a little part you get to prove the concepts and make sure that you are getting the answers that you need out of the system.
We’ve had experience where a municipality spent several years providing a huge amount of resource at completing a CMMS, made lots of assumptions along the way.
At the end of the day, they didn’t really know what were the questions that they were trying to answer in the first place.
So, they have collected the wrong information. It gets a bit expensive. It gets canned.
It’s small, simple, get the answers, refine, keep going. That sort of loop will get you a long way down the track.
And the other thing is like every manager and your governance board or a council, whoever, they like wins.
So, if you can do a nice small little pilot and you can go hey, look we just managed to save, you know how much money in your terms, hundreds, thousands or millions of dollars depending on the size of the utility.
And they would go, wow, well that’s good, let’s keep investing in that, but, then you’ve got some certainty about the value you’re getting out of it.
The real risk of somebody coming and selling you a big system and you are going to try to feed whole stuff into it, redefine all your workflow, so it works for your system and all those sorts of stuff as you will just never get there. And you don’t have “wins,” you just have a resource drain.
The importance of strategic thinking
And then again, it goes back again to the strategic thinking. Many, many communities will go buy one and you say it didn’t work. I heard a lot. Well, that system didn’t work.
And they would say, why it didn’t work? Well, it didn’t do X, whatever X is. And you say well, what did you want it to do at the beginning. Well, we just bought one.
So, the trouble is, a lot of times we don’t think about at the beginning the front end, what it is that you want your CMMS or GIS or any other computer tool you’re using, what it is that you want it to do?
Is it just to store information? That’s one thing. Is it to keep track of the maintenance task? Is it to make it able to figure out the cost of maintaining a particular asset?
Whatever it is, thinking through those questions upfront, what date do I want to get out of it, what report that I wanted to be able to produce, what question do I want to answer, can drive you to get the right system.
Because oftentimes, it’s just like what Ross was talking about where you are fitting to the system instead of the system fitting to you.
So, you are trying to answer questions they want you to ask but those aren’t the questions that you want to ask.
So, you are kind of stuck with the wrong system and if you would have thought about it upfront, you might have made a different choice. Maybe it’s a simpler system or a different kind of system or whatever.
Just using an analogy. Let’s just pretend or remember when we were back college, and we’ve got, no car park, and we need to get to college and so you got a choice.
So, you say, hey well, look the best way is to get a bike or a scooter or something like that and I can then put that on the bike rack and lock it up.
But the person who sells you a great big pick up and say, you’re driving this pickup in the college every day is costing you a fortune, you couldn’t really have thought of it in the first place and you got no park.
So, you pay a fortune for parking, and you go well it didn’t work. The pickup, oh I love my pickup but it’s not the right tool for the job I’m trying to do right at the moment. And maybe, later on, you might need the pickup.
But I think systems are like that and it’s still come back to like, some of their most effective work that I’ve seen here to do has just been with small utilities and are just a very simple GIS, couple of simple fields, get going, get some answers going. Get the investment targeted. Start building a more accurate inventory.
Don’t go and buy the pickup when you just need the bicycle.