Failure of a municipal asset can have disastrous consequences, whether it’s property damage, prolonged disruption of service or even bodily harm. For municipalities that are experiencing population growth, the number of assets they need to manage also grows; and the more assets a municipality has, the higher the likelihood something critical could fail. When the stakes are so high, effective asset management is a skill that every local government needs to master.
Here is a useful cheat sheet for avoiding the three most common challenges to managing municipal assets.
Problem #1: Utilizing resources inefficiently
It costs labor, time and money to maintain a community’s assets. While it may seem counter-intuitive, those who “over-maintain” their assets are at risk of ineffective asset management. Needlessly overextending an employee’s time to work on certain assets could take valuable resources away from other assets which may require more maintenance. Additionally, the more intrusive – and potentially unnecessary – maintenance performed on assets could put them more at risk of failure.
A municipality should know specifically what it needs to report and focus its efforts on ensuring it collects, organizes and maintains sufficient data to satisfy those reporting requirements. Don’t expend precious time on gathering extraneous information.
Problem #2: Not knowing what you have
As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. A municipality can have thousands of assets. Major ones like roads and bridges are highly visible, but smaller, more invisible assets like pipes, valves and tanks can cause just as much damage in the long run if they are improperly managed. Knowing and keeping track of all municipal assets is a fundamental step toward proper asset management.
The key to solving this problem is having a system in place to track all assets and then be able to objectively identify those assets that carry the most risk if they fail or underperform. Critical assets are those that need proactive protection, and usually those are just a small subset of a municipality’s entire asset mix. Make sure adequate attention is given to defining risk.
Problem #3: Trying to advance too far too fast
Perhaps one of the most common mistakes a local government municipality can make in managing assets is trying to advance too far too fast. Some counties and cities experience such rapid growth that major infrastructure needs to be built quickly to support a population boom. As a result, municipalities focus on fixing the “right now” problem of too few roads, equipment and other infrastructure without as much thought to the long-term problems that could come down that same road.
To ensure the success of any city or town, a municipality must plan properly for the future. Local governments should have a clear understanding of the future capabilities of asset management solutions from an asset management vendor whom they trust. With decision-support tools, such as those for deterioration modeling and budget optimization becoming easier to use, the right vendor can help a municipality to track individual assets through their entire lifecycle, from preventive maintenance to decommissioning.
The right asset management tools can help a municipality solve three of the most common challenges to efficiently managing public assets. Make sure your municipality serves your citizens to its fullest potential by utilizing an asset management system that will lead your city toward a safer, smarter future.