Asset Management Benefits
Asset management provides a set of tools and practices that can assist a system in operating, maintaining, and managing assets in a cost-effective, sustainable fashion. There are many benefits to implementing asset management, including working more efficiently, improving knowledge management, and knowing how to use your limited finances as effectively as possible. Some benefits are achieved just by initiating asset management activities, but most benefits come from fully embracing asset management principles. The type and extent of benefits that can be realized through implementing an asset management program are unique to each system and community. The specific benefits a system achieves will depend on which aspects of the program are most important to the system, where the system focuses its efforts, how robust the asset management program implementation is, and the needs of its community.
The benefits from asset management fall within the “triple bottom line,” which includes financial, environmental, and social benefits. The financial benefits of asset management can be divided into three categories: cost savings, cost avoidance, and revenue benefits. Cost savings occur when a system continues its activity but is doing it in a less expensive way. For example, a system might determine there is a cheaper way to repair a pipe based on collecting information on costs of various pipe repair techniques and the duration that the repairs last. The system might see savings in the short term, or it might not see savings until many years later. Implementing asset management can also lead to cost avoidance. Cost avoidance occurs when the system changes something to avoid having to pay a cost. An example of cost avoidance is addressing the underlying cause of a failure, so a repeated repair is eliminated. Asset management activities can create revenue benefits for systems. Revenue benefits are anything a system can do to increase the money coming into its organization. For example, systems can repair or replace water meters, so they read correctly or are sized appropriately for the flow, resulting in additional revenue. While rate increases are never popular with customers, having good information to show the need for the rate increase might help improve revenues.
There are also environmental and social benefits that can come from implementing the asset management processes. Systems can take actions that increase the regulatory compliance of their system or improve compliance beyond the required limit. For example, systems can improve or change a process to remove more of a contaminant than required by regulation. Systems can also improve the overall use of resources through asset management and reduce waste products. When thinking about social benefits, system managers should consider the benefits not just to their customers but also to elected leaders/governing bodies/owners and employees. Systems can use asset management tools to improve a process or procedure that will increase customer satisfaction. Many asset management computer programs include optional customer service applications that make it easier for customers to submit service requests and track them to completion. Changing processes might lead to a reduction in the number of customer complaints overall or complaints of a particular type. Asset management tools can also help system staff provide better justification for projects to elected leaders, which will make it easier for those leaders to approve funding requests. Lastly, employees should benefit from asset management actions. Employees are often a forgotten part of the asset management program, but benefits for employees are a critical component. More planned work and less reactive work will improve their ability to perform their job. Additionally, a more organized and efficient workplace will reduce safety incidences and create opportunities for career advancement.
Knowledge Transfer – Larry Covington, President, Picacho Mutual Domestic Water Association, Las Cruces, NM
The benefits of a proper map and inventory – Shawn McLean, General Foreman, Public Works Dept., City of Somersworth, NH
The benefits of a proper inventory for future collaboration/partnerships – Doug Powers, Community Development Director, City of Tucumcari, NM
Using Asset Management to provide a clear picture of where the system is at – Gilbert Miera, Board President, Arenas Valley Water Development Association, Silver City, NM
Using Asset Management to justify your needs to your board – Ted Riehle, Chief Operator, Old Forge Wastewater Treatment Plant, Old Forge, NY
The benefits of having an Asset Managment Plan in an emergency – Mike Daley, President, White Cliffs Mutual Domestic Water Association, Gallup, NM
The relationship between up-to-date infrastructure and the community – Doug Powers, Community Development Director, City of Tucumcari, NM
Using Asset Management to communicate progress with elected officials – Chris Jacobs, Chief Engineer, City of Somersworth, NH
Using Asset Managment to communicate the budget to the community – Ted Riehle, Chief Operator, Old Forge Wastewater Treatment Plant, Old Forge, NY
Using Asset Management to justify capital projects – Kevin Campanella, P.E., Assistant Director Asset Management, Department of Public Utilities, City of Columbus, OH