Four ways asset management can be a massive victory for IT

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John Woodhouse

IT has become the backbone of most modern enterprise, facilitating the entire business journey. In this article, John Woodhouse illustrates four areas in which IT can be a key enabler for asset-heavy organisations

At its core, asset management is actually a management science with a business dimension. This allows IT to play a more significant role to improve component processes as well as the larger system of managing the assets for maximum value over their whole life cycle.

Looking at cases in which asset management has been employed across companies large and small, there are four distinct areas in which IT supports asset management and how that support can be extended to maximal effect:

Data processing

Asset management involves good decision-making, and decisions should be based on facts wherever possible.

This requires collection, interpretation, and retention of data. IT’s involvement in this can be positive if the purpose of the data collection and retention is clear, or negative if it creates or compounds confusion, or merely automates inappropriate processes. 

Information management

The volume, diversity, and complexity of assets and asset systems means that information is correspondingly large scale, varied, and complex. Information systems are needed to hold it, navigate it, and sustain its integrity.

In addition, IT should have the capability to properly present this complex data to the target audiences that need to understand and use such information.

For example, geographic information systems can help to correlate and navigate asset technical information, work information, and systems, providing geographical or spatial information in a visual context.

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Control of workflow

IT support is vital for control, coordination, and recording of the multidimensional activities of managing assets. This is because planning work, achieving consistency in task specifications, and capturing feedback are also high volume, complex processes. 

An example of a process is the planning and work management of a major plant shutdown, which could entail up to a million man-hours of diverse, often safety-critical tasks and involve multiple teams of contractors, multidisciplinary consultants and other specialists.  

Objectivity in identifying and solving problems

Continual improvement requires focus on the real problems and opportunities, and IT systems can assist with identifying, investigating, quantifying, and prioritising performance, reliability, or cost improvement opportunities.

If done right, IT can be the single source of truth for different parts of the business, providing disparate functional interests – like finance, operations, and safety assurance – with the same critical source material, so everyone contributes to, and works with, the exact same set of facts.

PAS 55 and ISO 55000 standards help to define what needs to be done for coordinated asset management. Within that, IT is one of the vital enablers that can facilitate individual activities and also help to integrate and align the different processes to deliver better overall value to the business at large.