In the movie Deliverance, Burt Reynolds’s character says, “Sometimes you have to lose yourself before you can find anything.” That statement is never more true than in discussions about asset management. When you’re focused on what you already know, it’s easy to miss a better way of doing things.

When it comes to asset management, most companies focus on maintenance and repair operations. In theory, this makes sense. You would think that focusing on MRO would be the most effective way to improve equipment performance and reduce downtime. In fact, it can compromise the effort. Too much focus on MRO prevents people from taking a step back and seeing the big picture.

If a company wants to see consistent, measurable improvement in asset performance, costs, and risks, it must stop viewing its business functions — MRO, storeroom, procurement, and the rest — as isolated units, and start treating its asset management operation as a unified system that relies on the cooperation of all elements for success. This is the basic premise of asset management systems.

Asset Management Systems

An asset management system is a holistic program for directing and controlling all aspects of equipment and infrastructure management, from planning and investing to operations, maintenance, and disposal. An asset management system is not a software system. Rather, it is a set of policies, strategies, practices, and processes that govern all activities affecting a company’s physical assets. Software is a powerful asset management tool, but it does not replace a comprehensive asset management system.

An asset management system establishes clear, documented processes for every activity that affects an asset’s life cycle, from purchasing a piece of equipment to creating a work order to contracting a vendor. It dictates procedures to ensure that all asset life cycle events, including maintenance work orders and supply chain transactions, are captured and tracked within the software system to ensure accurate data and reporting. It lays out clear guidelines for dividing responsibilities and coordinating activities between departments. In short, it provides a complete program for managing physical assets across the entire organization and throughout the full asset life cycle.

Conclusion

Why are asset management systems so important? The answer is simple: asset management systems represent a comprehensive approach to asset management. Asset management systems provide the holistic perspective and large-scale strategy necessary for managing large maintenance operations. They lower cost, improve asset performance, and reduce risk. The systems themselves may be as complex as the operations they manage, but the results are simple. Asset management systems make asset-intensive organizations run better.

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