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How to Communicate the Challenges of Asset Management to Leadership

The Top 5 challenges to successful asset management is where effective communication begins. The FINESSE fishbone diagram is a proven part of the solution.
The Top 5 challenges to successful asset management is where effective communication begins. The FINESSE fishbone diagram is a proven part of the solution.

This article lays the foundation for communicating the challenges of asset management. We discuss what asset management is and the top five challenges to most programs. After all, every organization is already managing its assets – the better question is whether it is managing them as effectively as they should be. That is where the communication journey begins.


What is Asset Management?

Asset Management is the coordinated activity to realize value from assets. Examples of assets include physical assets such as equipment, fiscal assets such as money, human (people), information assets, and intellectual property.


Why is Asset Management Complex (and Complicated)?

Asset management has many aspects. Asset Management activities include developing an approach, setting policy, developing plans, and implementing the plans. The Institute of Asset Management’s taxonomy includes 36 aspects.


Those aspects produce value over the long term. The long game requires us to communicate numbers, statistics, and processes effectively. The trouble is usually, our decision makers think short term.


Communicating to Senior Management

My asset management perspective comes from thirty years of experience as a consultant, facility manager, and infrastructure authority member. In the latter case, I was part of a team that set up an asset management grant program used statewide. The program is still being used ten years later.


Facilitating Asset Management Plans

Having a plan before implementing asset management activities is important because most of the activities are interrelated. The plan can be simple or detailed. A facilitator should be used.


Facilitation is a structured session(s) in which the meeting leader (the facilitator) guides the participants through a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood, and accepted by all participants. Not all asset managers are great facilitators.


These are two recent articles on developing asset management plans.



The Top Five Implementation Challenges with Senior Management

These are the top five challenges of implementing asset management.

#5 Definitions are not commonly understood, regardless of the level of the receiver.

Terms like asset management, lifecycle, reliability, redundancy, and operating ratio need to be more consistently understood, including within senior management ranks. That’s one reason this article started with definitions. And one reason that program success depends on establishing and maintaining basic definitions.


#4 Organizational capacity is just as important as funding.

Asset management is both broad and deep. Most well-intentioned plans begin with two to three dozen activities. The problem is that organizations do not have enough time to address this many initiatives. I have seen that from large organizations, like in the Dow-DuPont merger, to relatively small towns and utilities.


#3 Software and technology are often seen as a cure for all shortfalls.

I wish I had a dollar for every time a senior manager askes me which asset management system I recommended. Of course, they need clarification on enterprise asset management software (EAMS) and the underlying asset management system. The management systems include people, processes, and tools (yes, software as a tool).


Senior managers often believe technology is the way to offset human resources. Working smarter, not harder, is indeed the right course, but establishing and maintaining the associated work processes takes quite a bit of time. It takes more work in the short term to realize the long-term benefits of technology.


#2 We need to focus on a few problems that really matter.

The asset management "book" tells us that there are many activities that we need to do. Senior managers want to do asset management right, and so do the asset managers they hire. However, the “book” also tells us the most important thing is getting the organizational context right first. Most organizations need to remember this.


#1 We need to know why we are changing (and how it improves what we do).

Asset management is a management system that requires cultural change. Change starts with understanding why we are doing something and how it makes a difference. After all, all organizations are managing their assets already. The question is whether they manage them as effectively as they should be.


Communicating Asset Management Challenges with FINESSE

Leadership has little time for detailed explanations. That is where the proven FINESSE fishbone diagram comes into play. This article lays the foundation for effectively communicating asset management to senior management by providing a few key definitions and citing the five top challenges to most programs. Success depends on getting the hard skills and the soft skills of asset management correct.


Join us for this powerful webinar on February 29, 2024.  Are you Communicating with FINESSE?
Join us for this powerful webinar on February 29, 2024.

Register now for this free webinar on becoming more effective at "Developing and Facilitating Strategic Asset Management Plans." (sponsored by Communicating with FINESSE).

Communicating with FINESSE is the not-for-profit community of technical professionals dedicated to being highly effective communicators and facilitators. Learn more about our publications, webinars, and workshops. Join the community for free.

JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for facilitation, asset management, and program development at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment. 


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