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Time to get your assets in gear!

An Enterprise Asset Management program encapsulates many elements including an organization’s processes, assets, people, required levels of service, long-term planning and risk mitigation to provide resilience and sustainability. This holistic view is a tall order for any organization calling for planning and commitment from all levels. Municipalities in Canada are making great improvements to not only create an asset management plan (AMP), but also to operationalize. Yes, these are mandated requirements; however, there are still many who haven’t started and others who have an AMP but don’t know what to do with it.

Recently, both the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM), released helpful documents to assist with creating an AMP. Having consulted with a number of municipalities across the country, they provide a holistic view of asset management. Moreover, they cover the what, why, and how of AMP policy, governance and framework, provide additional related resources and most importantly, identify the variety of funding programs that are available to support municipal efforts.

These guides are excellent tools for municipalities who are either just starting out or a good cross-check reference for municipalities with AMPs already in play. I found the testimonials featured in these guides quite insightful; they highlight the lessons learned by participating organizations (a great way to avoid similar issues).

FCM’s “How to develop an asset management policy, strategy and governance framework” is a thorough, how-to guidebook. It sheds light on different areas where an organization needs to invest time and effort, and identifies the additional work required. The accompanying templates and examples can be applied to your specific needs. The publication offers more than a high-level overview, it will also help your municipality bring a consistent, evidence-based approach to asset management across all of your asset classes.

CNAM’s Asset Management 101 booklet is an introduction to asset management for municipalities. In addition to the glossary of terms and concepts for beginners, this document also offers resources and links to provincial agencies to assist with achieving their asset management goals. There are multiple sources of funding available to municipalities and CNAM has recently launched a website to assist municipalities easily identify all the programs that are available across Canada and has created a step- by- step approach to apply for funding. You can find the CNAM booklet on their resources site along with an array of other relevant tools.

Most municipalities have similar kinds of requirements for the types of services they deliver. The differences are found in how the assets are managed to deliver those services. Certain differences such as the size of municipality (tax base), upper or lower tier, kinds of assets and services they manage (e.g. utilities) will influence the asset management plan. Additionally, there are other variables that impact the cost of existing or new assets such as the environment (capacity changes, soil composition, temperature extremes, environmentally sensitive areas, rainfall, etc.).  These location-specific details will impact the assets’ design, construction and maintenance costs when considering their resilience over a long period of time.  So, while you are considering all the elements of your asset management plan, you need to plan for and leverage the GIS information. Standardizing on a system of record with ArcGIS will be of great benefit when looking for insights into your data down the road. The analysis of trends and patterns overlaid with location can provide additional clarity in your decision-making processes.

Remember that Asset Management is a process, not a project. It’s a long-term commitment to delivering the best services possible with the funds you have available. These two guides are excellent references and provide useful details about what to include in an AMP. At the recent CNAM 2018 conference in Windsor, both guides were promoted as tools to help organizations improve their competency levels on the Readiness Scale spectrum (as outlined on the FCM site). If you’re looking for more help, Esri Canada Professional Services team can support your asset management plan through a range of activities. From strategy and planning through analysis, design and development to deployment, operations and maintenance, our industry-focused professionals bring extensive national asset management experience.  We can help you maximize your assets’ lifecycles.

About the Author

Barry Kelly is an Industry Manager for Esri Canada focused on promoting the expansion of the Community Maps Program, which is building the first detailed, vector-based, national web basemap of Canada using data from authoritative sources. A Certified Engineering Technologist, he has over 30 years of experience in both geographic information system (GIS) and computer-aided drafting (CAD) disciplines in various aspects including design, implementing, teaching and consulting. His expertise includes implementing maintenance management, automated vehicle location, lifecycle planning, long-term planning and asset valuation solutions. He serves on the Ontario Public Works Association’s Executive Board and is a board member of the Canadian Network of Asset Managers.

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