• Novice
  • Aware
  • Competent


This document covers:

From the initial decision to proceed with asset management, through to the final operational phases, the organization needs systems to support a management decision-making structure with accurate asset information.

The information systems necessary to support this type of program are often based around information technology (IT) systems.

It is critical that the IT system is accurately specified to meet the asset management requirements. The needs analysis to accomplish this involves understanding:

  • The full ramifications of life cycle asset management on the organization
  • The benefits to be derived
  • What is required from the IT systems.

The resources required will include project management, implementation and ongoing support staff, software, hardware, data collection and system operation and maintenance.

The cost can represent a substantial business investment, and this warrants a dedicated project management team to ensure its satisfactory implementation and completion.

Information systems of this magnitude need to be bottom driven - if the information meets the requirements at the workface level, then the systems will have a high level of ownership and will produce data that is valid and up to date.

By aggregating this data, the information can be fed upwards to provide accurate and critical information to the management of the facility or business unit, and ultimately to the management of the organization as a whole, as shown below:

The needs and the type of data required at the workface are different to requirements of the various levels of management. Advancements in information technology mean information databases, financial and technical, can be integrated in a common system. Organizations can only reap the benefits of Information Technology (IT) if technology is well integrated.


In most cases, organizations will have moved into the field of asset management as part of an overall objective of effective management of infrastructure assets.

An example mission statement that describes this objective is:

"To create, operate, maintain, renew or rehabilitate and replace or dispose of assets in the most cost effective manner, whilst providing the required level of service for present and future generations of customers."

The goal of the asset management team responsible for the asset management program and Information Technology systems may be described as:

To effectively manage the implementation of an asset management program, including the acquisition and implementation of the necessary computer systems and the training required, to alter the culture and the way in which the organization manages its assets. To bring about this change in the most cost effective manner, based on identifiable benefits and matched by the necessary resources.

It is imperative that this work is carried out in a cost effective manner and the major role of the asset management team will be to direct, review and monitor the program.


The most common weakness in asset management is the lack of technical information on the assets.

Asset systems suffer few failures due to operator errors or insufficient capacity. The following modes of failure occur more frequently:

  • Inefficiency (investment opportunity)
  • Obsolesces (lack of spare parts)
  • Level of service (unacceptable)
  • Structural integrity (old age/mortality)
  • No longer required (utilisation).

Management information systems often lack an electronic inventory of passive and dynamic assets and are unable to provide the necessary output for informed managerial decisions.

Ideally, the asset management information systems should include:

  • An inventory system capable of uniquely identifying assets
  • Attribute databases that detail the physical characteristics of the assets
  • A record of the current condition of an asset
  • A predictive modelling capability to predict the mode of failure and the corresponding effective life
  • A link with the financial system that provides the:
    • Current cost valuation of the asset and its components
    • Written down value of the assets
    • Future liabilities or cash flow required by the assets to maintain an acceptable level of service as a blend of rehabilitation, replacement and maintenance
  • A link with a spatial data system to identify the accurate location of the assets and their components
  • The ability to model "what if" scenarios from the overall database, such as the:
    • Effect of reductions on a renewal program with respect to reliability and service interruptions
    • Effects of less maintenance on the renewal programs and overall costs of the service
    • Justification of staff needed for a set program
    • Changing real costs with regard to true depreciation and formal renewal programs
    • Any other effects such as increased cyclonic winds, changes in rainfall etc.

These databases should be capable of being manipulated to provide information such as:

  • A replacement/rehabilitation program and cash flow (renewals accounting outputs)
  • A priority program based on risk
  • The current replacement value of the assets
  • Average annual annuities for the renewal program.

In general, these registers are valuable management tools that can produce outputs necessary for renewal based accounting practice and help manage:

  • Redundancy/disposal
  • Improved technology
  • Excess future capacity
  • Increases in levels of service and growth augmentation.

Common Problems

The following are the most common problems in most organizations:

  • A poor understanding of the principles of Asset Management and the benefits that can be derived. Without this basic understanding, IT system analysts and designers have failed to:
    • Recognise the outputs required
    • Design the manipulations required
    • Allow for the inputs required.
  • Insufficient commitment of the organization and executive management to the issue of AAM.
  • A lack of coordination throughout the organization from an asset management perspective. This tends to encourage each asset group and even individuals to do their own thing. This creates problems of:
    • Staff dependency
    • Inefficiencies (reinventing the wheel)
    • Inability to compare outputs.
  • No clear policies, objectives or guidelines exist. Good management of this vital program will ensure success.
  • Diverse infrastructure management approaches are used for like assets. This generally occurs when department or ownership splits building, equipment and mobile plant/vehicles.
  • Growth of the organization often dominates the management strategy and the business tends to forget the ever-increasing number of assets that are getting older and require greater inputs.
  • Systems need to produce economically justified expenditures, staff skills and staff numbers (or contractors) required to complete cost effective and efficient management of these assets.
  • Great emphasis has been placed on spatial (digital mapping) data systems at the expense of other AM systems. Knowing where an asset exists and being able to create this graphically is of great benefit. However it also tends to be of great cost as well.

An overall strategy needs to be developed that identifies the cost/benefit of all IT systems and then proceeds to introduce them as justified by the organization's available resources.

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