How Local Councils Can Benefit from Effective Asset Management
With total running costs of £23bn per annum, local councils may find it crucial to consider an effective asset management solution.
In 2018, the Government’s chief property officer stated that the UK owned a total of £420bn in public property assets, with a further £60bn under construction. Much of this was, and still is, under the control of local authorities.
At the same time, councils sold over £9.1bn in public assets in an attempt to make the books balance. No one can argue that these aren’t sizeable sums.
Thus, any steps that can be taken to save money on assets have the opportunity to have a huge impact. This can affect both public finances, and the availability of public assets to the people of the UK.
The Evolution of Asset Management
Asset management has always been an important part of the life of large, asset-heavy organizations. Local authorities tend to have large equipment portfolios, with large maintenance departments.
Until recently asset management was, if anything, more paperwork intensive than it was asset-intensive. As time has worn on, and work levels have increased, it’s been necessary to use computes to optimise these tasks.
Along comes asset management software to take up the slack.
Using technology to track aspects such as location, service history and inspection schedule, asset management software can help analyse usage and prevent future failures.
How the Management of Assets Can Benefit Local Councils
Town councils and other local authorities tend to have huge maintenance departments, working to maintain a large spread of different types of assets. Just keeping track of these assets can require a large number of people and man-hours.
But, even without a software solution, asset management can make a big difference. Good asset management practice can include:
- Making sure assets are well maintained and operational.
- Keeping track of assets and which employees are using them.
- Reducing administration and maintenance costs.
- Producing reports and making it easier to audit asset costs and usage.
- Making assets more available to local communities.
- Increasing co-location, partnership working, and sharing of knowledge.
Since the 2010s there have been a couple of major changes to how local authorities manage their assets. There’s also been a move towards using assets as a source of ongoing revenue, rather than disposing of unused assets and replacing them.
There has also been a big move away from paper-based asset management systems, and towards the use of asset management software. This can be evidenced in many of the asset management plans published on UK council websites. With a little bit of searching on the internet, you can find published asset management plans for most UK councils, such as this one for Selby.
What is an Asset Management Solution?
Asset management software (AMS) helps a business to manage everything to do with their assets. While there are many examples of general-purpose asset management software, there are also many instances of AMS being designed to meet a specific need.
Additionally, many of the large multi-purpose solutions include various features to make them suitable for a specific purpose. For example, one of the main features of all AMS is its ability to manage predictive maintenance.
By taking in to account performance metrics, fault reports, maintenance and inspection schedules, AMS can schedule inspections and repairs before equipment or other assets suffer a failure.
Predictive maintenance can also solve a whole range of problems that come about when an asset is off-line. No matter what type of asset is involved, avoiding downtime makes it possible to get the most out of assets. While also avoiding costly repairs.
Another area where AMS is particularly valuable is in its ability to match up user needs and asset availability. Even in the context of building assets, either commercial or residential, making the most out of asset availability means you won’t have to deal with irate customers or end up having to make more expensive provisions, like B&B accommodation for people waiting to be housed.
How Can Asset Management Help Local Councils Optimise Operations?
Thanks to various campaigns by central government over the last decade, local councils should already have an asset management solution in place. For those who haven’t switched over to computer-based asset management, they should already have an extensive paper-based alternative in place.
In fact, if a business already has a management system in place, they’ll find switching to management software that much easier.
The number of stakeholders who can benefit from better asset management is colossal. Digital asset management can help get the most out of assets by planning their use better. By saving time and money on maintenance, more resources are freed up to use on other projects. Better planning will reduce greenhouse emissions from maintenance and repair journeys.
Some of the biggest beneficiaries will be the operations staff that previously spent a lot of time shuffling paperwork and creating work schedules by hand. Maintenance staff will also find they spend less time travelling to critical incidents, and more time on predictive maintenance.
The list of assets and tasks that a management system can be responsible for include:
- Company and fleet vehicles of any type.
- Buildings, both commercial and residential.
- Portable and stationary equipment.
- Parks and leisure facilities.
- Roads and public transport.
- Maintenance and inspection plans and contracts.
- Fault reports and their resolutions.
- Guarantees and warranties for equipment.
- Building plans that include electronic sensors for monitoring temperature, access routes, power usage, and more.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. The number of things that can be included in a management system makes asset management software a great way to keep track of many different types of data that relates to an asset portfolio.
Deploying Software in Local Councils
Given all of the different types of asset that can be managed with AMS and the complexity of existing paper-based management systems, sometimes it’s a good idea to deploy a new AMS in stages.
Tackling each department separately gives business’s the chance to integrate the system with existing databases of assets, schedules, and workflows without creating too many problems.
Many asset solutions aim to make it easy to set up certain functions to do with one type of asset or another. It’s a good idea to make use of these opportunities to help speed up deployment and make it run smoothly.
Most service providers offer a lot of help with integration and deployment.
Local councils have extensive asset management needs that, these days, can only be reasonably met by adopting the right software. While there are tools and solutions in place that can help local councils put off the adoption of software for a little while longer, there’s no doubt that digital transformation is going to continue to increase in this sector.
Asset management has been a by-word in local authority management for a number of years, which should make the changeover to software fairly straightforward. Additionally, it’s possible to look up the management plans most local authorities publish on their websites, to gauge an idea of how to arrange and deploy a new software solution.
So, the next step is to search, compare and shortlist the right software for your business needs.