Water Online

January 2017

Water Innovations gives Water and Wastewater Engineers and end-users a venue to find project solutions and source valuable product information. We aim to educate the engineering and operations community on important issues and trends.

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asset lifecycle requires equal collaboration with O&M, which is responsible for most of the hands-on work throughout the life of the asset. In many cases, successful asset management programs appoint "asset owners" from O&M who work collaboratively with asset management team members to develop plans and make investment decisions. Avoid the "ivory tower" mentality and look to create an asset management structure that embraces the entire organization. For one city in the Southeast U.S., the asset management structure included an infrastructure leader residing in the O&M organization responsible for executing asset class strategies and appointing formal work planners and schedulers. The planner positions are experienced staff with CMMS "power user" expertise who also understand the details and realities of field work. Define Priority Initiatives Take an objective approach to defining priority initiatives and look past the typical asset management condition assessment and asset management plan development tasks. Don't just focus on writing reports and manuals. Ask fundamental questions such as: Is this going to have a significant positive impact on our organization? Will customers benefit? Can we readily communicate the benefits to stakeholders and public officials? Be sure to pick both short-term and long-term activities and don't focus only on maintenance, as asset management initiatives can span the entire lifecycle including planning, design, and construction. When establishing your priorities, quantify current cost and performance and develop specific metrics and milestones that are likely to demonstrate benefit within 12 months. This will help garner early support and pave the way for longer-term improvements. For one city in the Northeast, the asset management program was first implemented for linear infrastructure (sewers and water mains) in order to tackle critical issues with sewer overflows, basement backups, water main breaks, and water quality complaints. Once these service-level issues have been addressed and stabilized, the program will be rolled out across other asset classes over time. Measure, Manage, And Communicate Pick the right metrics and clearly understand how they will be used to communicate benefits and outcomes. Improving performance data, accuracy, and transparency are key tenets of asset management. While system-wide improvements can take years to manifest themselves, look for ways to demonstrate early positive trends using rolling averages as well as measuring localized and neighborhood improvements that demonstrate an approach focused on "service equity." Most importantly, use metrics actively, openly, and transparently — if goals aren't being achieved, be adaptable and change tactics as needed. Stay grounded with real and meaningful measures — think of areas that are visible to both staff and customers including water quality, system reliability, and response and restoration times for emergency events. For internal staff, consider metrics like work order backlog, preventive maintenance compliance, and asset failure rates. Early on in the process, active communication is key. Use newsletters, posters, and brochures to inform staff and promote awareness. Creating simple, targeted, annual asset management updates can help ensure the support of customers, stakeholders, and elected officials. Many utilities across the U.S. are now publishing annual asset management reports with detailed metrics across social, financial, and environmental domains. Understand Your Roadmap Always consider the asset management program an evolving journey. Industry practice and technologies related to maintenance management systems, mobile technology, and condition assessment techniques continue to advance, and programs need to maintain step as well. Keep the program fresh with quarterly formal reviews and open discussions, involve new individuals, and don't be afraid to change direction. Identify and incorporate new initiatives as the need arises, adapt to changing strategic plan priorities, and reprioritize as needed to keep a focus on delivering benefits. Focus your efforts by starting with smaller pilots and gain internal support for a more comprehensive rollout based on strong business cases and benefit justification. Create your own customized "living" road map that evolves and serves as your pathway to success. n 10 wateronline.com n Water Innovations ASSETMANAGEMENT David Sklar is a principal consultant with WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global engineering and professional services organization. Based in Washington, D.C., David leads the firm's asset management and business strategy offerings within the water and utility sectors. He is a recognized industry leader with over 20 years of experience across energy, water, and public works. His key areas of expertise include asset management, environmental sustainability, capital planning, process improvement, and performance management. David holds a B.A. in economics from Boston University and an MBA in sustainability from the University of Colorado at Denver. www.wsp-pb.com/USA About The Author

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