Managing stakeholders in Asset Management

Large asset management projects generally consist of multiple stakeholders who have diverse objectives. David Long, General Manager New Zealand, and Stirling Milicich, Implementation Specialist, explain how supporting all business functions, rather than one particular department, adds the greatest value to the outcomes, with examples of stakeholder management in action.

What are your roles in asset management projects?

David: “I typically lead a facilitated discussion to identify and confirm customer needs at the front-end of an asset management project. This often starts through the on-boarding process, and becomes formalised through a workshop. Stirling’s role is expanding, and he’s now also leading some of those customer conversations.”

Stirling: “That’s right. David has been sharing his facilitation skills and knowledge, so my role includes working strategically with customers, as well as implementing the technical tasks that have come about as a result of the stakeholder facilitation meetings.”

Why is it important to identify who the various stakeholders are? And how does stakeholder management influence an asset management project?

David: “While there’s generally a champion for each project, there are always other stakeholders and therefore other views that need to be considered. They need to be identified at the very beginning of the stakeholder management process and their needs identified, understood and considered.

The key is to identify the stakeholders groups and then to explore their specific business needs. For example, the drivers will vary depending on whether you’re talking with the CFO, tenancy managers, tenants, facility managers, or an outsourced partner. Each will have a different view of the business needs, which drives the information requirements and ultimately how we deliver the solution.”

Stirling: “It's about efficiency, because if you don't understand all the requirements at the start from these different stakeholders, then you're going to come to a point where you're no longer meeting all their needs and you will have to backtrack. So, if you don't understand it all at the start there is a risk you will overlook key requirements”

Can you give some examples of the different types of stakeholders you may encounter in a project, and how their needs vary?

David: “Asset managers will often be the primary sponsors of an asset management project. Even with a relatively simple project, like the development of an asset management plan, there will be a range of other stakeholders, including those associated with operations, planning, risk, and maintenance.. For this reason, you need to build into the project scope and plan the need to meet with tenancy managers, retail managers or property managers, for example, in order to understand their goals and requirements.

It’s not always a straightforward process. Often stakeholders will have other perspectives and priorities, and won’t necessarily understand or see value in an asset management project. The property manager, for example, may be more focused on lease management, dealing with the day-to-day facility management and compliance, and potentially driven by a focus on property yield rather the lifecycle decision making. They won't necessarily have a long-term view of portfolio requirements; instead they will be more focused on the immediate term and operational view around the performance of a particular portfolio.”

How do you keep the communication channels flowing with the various stakeholders once a project is underway?

David: “We always have an implementation plan which lays out the key elements of implementation and stakeholder management, and consultation is a key part of that. The actual implementation plan varies from customer to customer – the whole process is completely customer centric.”

Why is SPM Assets well placed to collaborate with all the lead stakeholders throughout an asset management project?

David: “Through the nature of our conversations, we have access to a wide range of people and often can engage in more strategic decisions and discussions. We come into the conversation with a broad range of experience and can apply that to each conversation. Often this means that while the customer may have a particular solution in mind, by applying our experience, we can offer other potential approaches that may in fact provide a better outcome for them.”

How does an organisation benefit from the work you do with the various stakeholders?

David: “It's fundamentally about maximising the value to the organisation, and the way to gain the greatest value is by considering the full range of business functions, rather than just one of them or a particular outcome. Communication and collaboration are key to effective stakeholder management.”

Do you have any examples of how an organisation benefitted from your approach to stakeholder management?

David: “We've had customers who have implemented SPM Assets for their property portfolio, and then through our conversations with other stakeholders, they recognised the opportunity to bring in other assets. For example, teaching assets, clinical assets, and IT assets.

In another example, an asset manager was preparing a business case for the upgrade or replacement of existing buildings with new buildings. They used our software to model the existing buildings but also to create virtual models for potential future buildings, which supported both the business case development and lifecycle planning. The data and reports were instrumental in gaining approval from the organisation’s board.”

Stirling: “There’s also the example of a customer who used our software to manage their portfolio for long-term planning. Through broader stakeholder discussion, we worked together on a solution that would provide their staff and suppliers with accurate information about the asbestos in their portfolio. We developed a solution using QR codes that allows contractors to access up-to-date information about each property and the level of risk associated with the asbestos. It’s a quick way for them to access specialised information, and provide real value to their stakeholders at each property.”

Next step: Contact us to see how our team can help your organisation meet its objectives through smarter asset management and effective stakeholder management and communication.