25 Sep 2019

NZ Regional User Groups - promoting collaborative solutions

This is the fifth year in a row we have held our Regional User Groups for New Zealand customers. So far this year we have held three out of four user groups and have had some fantastic engagement and feedback at our Christchurch, Palmerston North, and Hamilton events, with customers attending from all over the South Island, lower North Island, and the Waikato and Bay of Plenty regions. Our marketing team sat down with David Long, General Manager New Zealand, to hear his take on the events.

What are the main benefits of the Regional User Groups?

Whereas the National Conferences provide a more strategic view, the Regional User Groups have a more operational and tactical focus, and target the day-to-day challenges our customers have in their roles. The topics we cover are driven by the needs of the attendees, so it’s very user focused: everyone attending can nominate the topics they want to discuss.

There are two key benefits of the Regional User Groups: building regional customer networks, and sharing knowledge. Our customers are some of the leading asset management professionals in Australasia. Many have developed innovative and pragmatic solutions and responses to asset management challenges, and so there is an opportunity to share and discuss these ideas. The User Groups aren’t just about the software. Many enduring business relationships have sprung out of these events, and we’ve set up a Slack channel so our users can continue to share knowledge and have conversations, even when the events are over. The idea is that we use Slack as a way to continue the conversations.

Did you learn anything new about our customers at the User Groups this year?

A number of the topics weren’t new to us, as the challenges are enduring. But while we’ve heard about these issues before, others have not, and the User Groups provide the opportunity to discuss new and emerging responses.

Once again, the biggest challenges are around data integration, dealing with deferred maintenance, and resourcing asset management activities.

  • There’s a big need around analytics and data integration. How do you take data from the different systems and bring it together in a meaningful way? The struggle we have is that there are the big systems that claim to do everything asset management. But how do you bring in your reactive work orders? How do you bring in your customer information? How do you get your plans out? This is an area of interest for our customers.
  • Deferred maintenance, and in fact deferred renewal, is a critical issue in itself. It reflects the level of available budgets to look after existing assets to achieve a defined level of service. In many cases the term ‘deferred maintenance’ is used incorrectly and as a coarse tool to report the current level of risk within a portfolio.
  • Building information modelling is a process to manage the building (asset) information throughout its lifecycle – from business cases and planning, through construction and operation, to disposal. Some customers are going through building programmes but often ending up with little or no information on the building or the asset they've created. The question really is; how do you make that happen? How do you establish the requirements? How do you facilitate the collection and the delivery of that data?
  • A big challenge that many customers are facing is around resourcing asset management activities. They all know what needs to be done. They all know why we need to do it. But many are struggling with the resourcing around key activities. It’s as much about having people on the ground, as it is to have people making the decisions.
  • Some new topics came up at the Regional User Groups this year. One of the interesting ones was around the management of environmental assets, and specifically trees: from both lifecycle and health and safety perspectives. There was an incident in Auckland recently where somebody was injured from a tree that fell down. The discussion at the Regional User Group was around the type of information to capture and how some customers have captured it.
  • Another topic was around increased integration with GIS systems and ESRI. Integration with other data sets is becoming increasingly important, and specifically the ability to access and view asset information geospatially.

What is trending in the asset management industry in New Zealand?

Whereas the importance of asset management is gaining recognition from a wider range of organisations, resourcing is one of the biggest challenges. ISO 55000 is increasing the profile of asset management, but few organisations in New Zealand are seriously driving towards accreditation. Instead they are aligning with the principles and practices.

Without spoiling anything for the Auckland attendees, what is your workshop all about?

The regional user groups are all about sharing knowledge and experience with those from the SPM Assets user community. As a result we deal with a range of topics, like the ones I’ve just mentioned. We will be providing an update on the latest products and features we’ve delivered, including Programs and Stories. We will also provide an overview of the solution we have developed for the New York Affordable Housing sector. And we’ll finish up with a quick review of some of the key software features that are often overlooked and forgotten about.

 

The final NZ Regional User Group for the year is on Thursday 24 October 2019 in Auckland – you can register here. And the Auckland Annual Conference is on Thursday 19 March 2020 at the Novotel, Auckland – reserve a date in your diary now.