Asset Management on a Shoestring!

Data-Driven, GIS-centric AM Analysis

Over the past few months, Alan Plummer Associates, Inc. (APAI) has been conducting asset management brown bag sessions for our municipal clients. The goal of these sessions is to share ideas, solutions and best practices for delivering asset management to cities with special emphasis on limited budgets. APAI has developed a GIS-centric process for asset management analysis that is data-driven, risk-based, and cost-effective. The process and results are designed to help utilities perform better asset evaluations and guide capital decision-making.

As a result of these client sessions, we have been asked several questions that may prove beneficial for other municipalities that are considering their asset management options. We wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the questions.

1. What is the cost range for doing an asset management plan on a shoestring?
ANSWER: Budgets for doing these types of asset management plans are highly dependent upon city/utility size, the current state of your data (including how populated key data fields are, and in some cases, whether that data is street address based or asset ID-based), and other factors. But as a general ballpark estimate, Asset Management Plans on a Shoe String can be accomplished for $65,000 to $120,000.

2. What deliverables are typically prepared?
ANSWER: The key deliverable is a prioritized list of action items driven by the risk matrix and risk rank developed for your assets. Action items may be capital renewal projects, or more likely are recommended condition assessment activities (such as CCTV, smoke testing, manhole inspections, pipeline condition assessments, or leak detection). The listing will include the specifics about each action item (the asset ID the action applies to, and the cost of the action item). Having the prioritization of these action items based upon the risk ranking ensures that you’re spending limited financial resources on the assets that need them the most. By its design, the initial action item listing is meant to be the first step in an ongoing asset management cycle, so that renewal updates and condition assessment data is appropriately captured in a data flow that APAI helps you set up. Once a significant amount of new data has been collected (say after one year), the risk analysis is re-run, and a new prioritized listing of action items is created. The action item listing is documented in an Asset Management Plan report, and can also be delivered in other platforms at your choosing (see next question).

3. What format(s) do deliverables take?
ANSWER: The prioritized action list described above can be delivered to you in a number of ways, depending on your preferences and software available. Beyond a hard copy report, the listing can be delivered as GIS geodatabase files, Microsoft Access database files, various CMMS software inputs (such as Cityworks), or in a Microsoft Excel file. Our goal is to work with your existing data systems, and not dictate the purchase of new/different software.

4. What are the first steps to get started in asset management?
ANSWER: A great first step is to develop the backbone of your asset system in GIS. If you have a GIS system, a first step may be to better populate existing data fields with more complete information. Key data fields for asset management include unique ID, diameter, material, and age or install date. Maintenance records and condition assessment data are also important for asset management. Often times, steps need to be taken to make that information usable. These steps may include digitization of paper records or geocoded data that is street address based so that it is associated with the correct asset. APAI can assist you with these steps. The key is to not wait to start asset management because you don’t think your data is adequate.  Asset management can actually serve as a compass to prioritize which missing data to collect first.

5. Is software needed or desired for asset management?
ANSWER: Asset management does not mean more software. An asset management plan can be developed in a number of different platforms. Ideally, a GIS system would be utilized.

6. Is software needed for mobile data collection?
ANSWER: Yes. If you are an ESRI GIS license holder, you have access to the ESRI Collector for ArcGIS app at no additional charge. There are third party apps available (at little or no cost) that can be used as well. Custom forms can be built in any of these apps to collect field data rapidly on a smartphone. The collected data can be readily uploaded into your GIS. APAI can conduct this fieldwork for you, or set up your phones and train your personnel to collect the data.

The sample map, accessible through the link below, presents the risk results for a sample gravity main system and provide a visual of the GIS and database component of a typical Alan Plummer Associates, Inc. asset management deliverable.

Click on any line in the system to view risk matrix input parameters, composite risk scores, and risk score and rank output. The table view can also be used to sort and visualize the risk data and associated cost estimates, and to pan and zoom to selected records.


For more information and to schedule an onsite demo or brown bag for your team, please contact Ellen McDonald or Taylor Baird at 817.806.1700.