Articles

Awareness in Asset Management

A facilities manager looks at a bunch of papers on their desk, which also has some maintenance tools and an orange hard hat on it.

The awareness level is the second level on our asset management maturity framework.

At this level, organisations have some processes in place, and aware that a lack of processes exposes them to risk. However, they aren't likely to have a clear picture of the level of risk.

Key indicators

Application of systems and processes may not be consistent, effective or efficient, but they do exist. This is a key differentiation between the innocence and awareness levels.

At awareness, the organisation has something to start with. 

At this level of maturity, organisations will still have a somewhat limited appreciation of what assets they have. There may be some data available, however information is likely to be siloed, incomplete or out of date.

Processes are documented, however may be open to interpretation based on pre-existing knowledge. Generally, organisations on this level have opted for relatively juvenile technologies.


At the awareness level, facilities teams have a limited understanding of how their work fits into organisational goals. 

Risks

While awareness is certainly a more desirable state than innocence, the risk of non-compliance is still present. 

Additionally, these organisations lack the capacity and technology to develop a preventive maintenance strategy, therefore are exposed to risks in terms of their asset management. While it is possible to execute on a planned maintenance strategy without technology, it is difficult and inefficient. 

A system based approach, conversely, protects from knowledge loss, and offers additional visibility in terms of risk.

 

Low levels of visibility in terms of expenditure on assets and their utilisation leads to budgetary inefficiencies at this level. 

Organisations can stay at this second level for a longer period of time than they can at the initial level, however the residual risks place them in a tenuous position. 

Compliance with regulatory frameworks is improved as organisations move from the first level to this second level, however it is difficult to fully comply on level two. 

How organisations get there

Similar to the first stage, organisations can find themselves on this level of the framework due to a lack of resources. Facilities management teams can find themselves stuck on this level when process improvement is not prioritised by the business. 

When processes exist, but aren’t reviewed regularly, they can become outdated, and reference obsolete technologies or assets. 

On this second level of the asset management maturity framework, organisations are not under imminent threat. This can result in a lax approach to process improvement, and under investment in technologies that could allow the organisation to progress to the next level.

How to move forward

To begin to progress from the awareness phase, organisations must make the focus on process part of their strategic plan.

Depending on what is already in place, this may involve formal reviews of processes, or investment in technologies to stabilise the effectiveness of existing processes. 

Working example

For our awareness level example, let’s consider an office building, with a facilities manager and facilities assistant. 

Current state

In a folder on their local network, a number of key processes have been typed up and saved. 

One week, the facilities manager is away, and the facilities assistant receives a work order to their shared mailbox. Unsure of how to proceed, they go into the processes folder, and spend an hour opening various files, trying to find one that relates to this specific work order. 

Moment of change

Eventually, they find the right process, and start working their way through the steps. In following the process, the facilities assistant notices that some of the steps reference an older version of the asset in need of attention. 

Noticing this, the facilities assistant has to go back to the facilities folder, and search for updated information on the current asset. Once they have found the relevant information, the work order can be actioned. 

Moment of truth

By this stage, several hours have passed, and the facility user who has requested the work order is frustrated with the lack of progress.

Eventually, the issue is resolved, the work order closed and the asset updated.

During the time it has taken to resolve this work order, several others have come in and are now awaiting action.

Outcomes

The facilities assistant does not revisit the process documentation, which is now far from their mind. The process simply lives on in its folder, until a similar work order comes through. 

Over time, this inefficient process creates a growing backlog of work to be completed, which is outside the capacity of the team.

The team continue to fight the backlog, until a critical incident occurs which sets off a domino effect from which the business is unable to recover.