How SPM Assets has made this asset manager’s job easier – for the third time
Wellington City Council’s (Council) asset portfolio has a gross value of around $16 billion. The portfolio is varied and currently includes significant sites such as the Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, the Michael Fowler Centre, community centres, parks, sports, and recreation facilities, as well as smaller functional structures such as public conveniences.
Wellington City Council had previously used SPM Assets from 2011 till 2016. The intention in 2016 was for Council’s new enterprise system to run efficient asset management programmes – but it was recognised that using a solution specifically designed for property asset management would allow Council to better manage and plan for its property portfolio.
Rob Ashley, the Asset Planning Manager, has led the initiative to re-implement SPM Assets at Council. Rob has an enterprise function with direct responsibility for the organisation’s infrastructure. He also acts in an advisory capacity to the rest of the business in terms of best-practice asset management and planning. Having successfully worked with SPM Assets twice before at Hauraki District Council and Waikato District Council, Rob was keen to use SPM Assets at Council.
Wellington City Council’s goals were to:
- Create a consistent approach to asset management using a common framework.
- Consolidate and update existing disparate asset data from spreadsheets and other sources around the organisation into a single source of truth.
- Make informed decisions through gaining strategic insights into future investments and balancing the organisation’s cost-service risk.
- Begin reporting against the annual plan, not just the Long-Term Plan. Supporting a significant step change in asset management maturity.
Pressure to quickly deliver long-term Asset Management Plans
Council needed to establish the SPM Assets software as quickly and efficiently as possible. SPM Assets still had the previous database and was able to restore it within a couple of days.
Disconnected and disparate data sources
Existing asset data was scattered around the organisation in spreadsheets and other sources; it was totally disconnected from other information systems.
To ensure an integrated approach moving forward, the previous SPM Assets software architecture was modified so it would align better with Wellington City’s financial system. “It was foremost in my mind to get the foundations of the architecture and the database right before we went out and did a lot of work,” says Rob.
“We needed to integrate the asset data so we could push down through our enterprise solution into SPM [Assets], or alternatively be able to push up from SPM [Assets] into our financial system. Connecting Asset Management to Facilities Management is an important part of our world that we live in now; it’s absolutely critical.”
Aged asset data
The existing asset data was at least seven years old, and therefore unreliable and out-of-date for accurate forecasting and decision making.
- A business needs workshop led into the re-establishment of SPM Assets and provided a base for the Council to work on its data improvement programme.
- A survey methodology workshop was held with key stakeholders in Council to work through the process for upcoming surveys, identify gaps, and the ability to then survey a large and complex portfolio relatively quickly.
- Re-establishing SPM Assets data and software within a couple of days and configuring it so it would align with the Council’s financial system.
- The asset data needed updating: Council put the survey of its portfolio out for tender, which SPM Assets won. To date, the property portfolio (71,000m2 across 91 buildings) has been surveyed, and the survey of parks, sports, and recreation buildings (a further 83,000m2 across 258 buildings) is underway.
"We managed to gain some efficiencies in the survey work, which created some really nice cost savings," says Rob.
- Providing an analytical tool for Council to use in its Long-Term Planning and forecasting
- Beginning the task of connecting asset management with facilities management.
Decision making with confidence
SPM Assets provides evidence-based reporting to aid decision making. “We can now provide evidence risk-based programmes of work in the Long-Term Plan for consideration by Council before it goes into the Plan,” says Rob. “Not having data is like boxing in the dark. Looking at how much you spent the year before, adding CPI, and crossing your fingers hoping that you’re going to have sufficient funding for your infrastructure is not effective asset management. Whereas if you’ve got evidence-based data, that really allows you to forecast with some certainty what the future requirements are for the portfolio.”
"Not having data is like boxing in the dark."
Coping with austerity
SPM Assets allows greater certainty when forecasting. “We’re heading into an environment of austerity,” says Rob. “In times of extreme constraint, excellence in asset management is one of the best things that you can have because you can forecast with great certainty in terms of what it’s going to take to maintain the level of service that you require.”
"In times of extreme constraint, excellence in asset management is one of the best things that you can have"
Enhanced reporting capabilities
Regular reporting becomes even more crucial in periods of economic instability. Says Rob: “Asset management plans are typically a static document, other than the dynamic information that comes in, such as financial information, the asset condition, and so on. We’re standardising those sections with custom reporting out of SPM Assets so we can then report against the annual plan, not just the Long-Term Plan. Reporting on an annual plan rather than waiting three years is a really good idea in an environment like we have now with extreme constraint, high inflation, and cost increases. The SPM [Assets] software is invaluable in this environment.”
It makes an asset manager’s job easier
Confidence in decision making makes a world of difference. Rob says: “It’s not my first implementation with the SPM Assets team – I’ve rolled it out successfully to Hauraki District Council and Waikato District Council, and have recommended it to other entities internationally. I wholeheartedly recommended SPM [Assets] and I couldn’t endorse the product more. Every time I’ve used SPM [Assets], it’s great for my career, so why wouldn’t I continue to use it? It just makes my job easier. It’s great for me, and it makes my executive team happy. If they are happy, then I’m happy. If the organisation is doing well and can make really good, robust financial decisions around their property and infrastructure portfolio, then I’m doing my job.”
"I wholeheartedly recommended SPM [Assets] and I couldn’t endorse the product more. Every time I’ve used SPM [Assets], it’s great for my career"
Being able to answer queries – and having the ability to back up answers with data – was critical. Rob says: “Whenever audit knocks on the door, I have the ability to walk audit through the process backwards to the data and then the metadata that sits behind that in terms of unit rates, square meterage, or whatever it may be. That gives you a lot of confidence in being able to answer queries, whether it’s from audit, the community, or governance.”
SPM Assets works out of the box
SPM Assets is quick to configure and deploy. Rob says: “SPM is off-the-shelf ready: you can select the modules that are applicable; and it works. It’s as simple as that. It’s a great tool that does what it says it’s going to do. It’s not an enterprise system that promises the world and gives nothing, and then you have to build it or get a team of consultants in. There’s a lot to be said for bespoke solutions that just work off the shelf. You pick it up, you put it down, you tinker with it a little bit and then it provides value. You don’t have to build something inside an enterprise solution.”
"SPM is off-the-shelf ready: you can select the modules that are applicable; and it works. It’s as simple as that. It’s a great tool that does what it says it’s going to do"
- To connect Asset Management to Facilities Management in a robust way that allows both a bottom-up and top-down approach – operationally, tactically, and strategically.
- Continue to use SPM Assets for condition assessments, whether it’s hands-on assistance, or training the in-house team to perform this function.
- Continue to use SPM to gain greater data maturity, and improve asset management maturity across the business.
Other Asset management case studies
These asset management case studies highlight how we work with our customers to benefit them:
The formation of Australasia’s largest local government body required the alignment, integration and migration of complex legacy databases covering a diverse range of assets valued at over $1.8bn.
SPM Assets’ work with Wellington City Council will allow for evidence-based decision making and better portfolio management for future generations via improved management of whole-of-life costs.
Hastings District Council’s long-term planning was hindered because data was stored in spreadsheets that could only be accessed by key staff. These problems were solved virtually overnight.
Cumberland Council realised that 90% of works being reactive plus paper-based data collection were holding it back. A planned approach has been implemented in workable stages.
Having successfully used SPM Assets software in two previous roles, Rob Ashely chose to use it again when joining Wellington City Council as their Asset Planning Manager. Discover how SPM Assets has made his job easier for the third time.