In a small water utility system with a small number of staff members who are still learning, the normal tendency is to hire a professional to do the asset management job.
Heather advised against this option. She explained that having the plan at the level that you yourselves can implement is better than having a plan that’s way above that level that somebody else did for you.
She encouraged that small systems can plan and manage their assets as much as possible by themselves.
Maybe get a little help every now and then from an outsider to assist with a specific matter.
The reasons Heather pointed out are the following:
- You’ll gain a lot from having looked at your assets yourself instead of having somebody else look at them.
- You will gain a lot by going through the thinking process because you really want the understanding of asset management to reside in your organization, and not somebody else’s.
- You are able to come up with an asset database that you understand and you can use well.
In concurrence to what Heather presented, Ross cited that there were cases where engineering design and infrastructure asset management had been outsourced through big consulting firms but the cost got too high for the community.
Ross said that the local community had to pay again the information from the consulting firms so that they can do the planning and managing themselves.
Now every municipality and water authority in New Zealand holds its own infrastructure asset management information.
Ross shared that now in New Zealand outside consulting firms that do the job are required to return the information to the municipality. That is now applied across the whole market.
As a result of the information that is being publicly available via authorities, many further uses of the information have developed.
Both Heather and Ross encouraged authorities to complete as much of infrastructure asset management themselves so that the learning and understanding of the management issues and challenges could be captured within the organization.
PHOTO CREDIT: Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey by Karl Hipolito