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Wednesday, 25 September 2013

On the Rocks? What a Shipwreck can teach us

English: Costa Concordia Polski: Statek pasaże... The plight of the ill-fated Costa Concordia (pictured) is by now well known.  How someone could navigate as 114,000 ton company asset on to the rocks in a sea of calm is quite mind boggling. 

Equally impressive, but in a more positive vein, are the logistics of salvaging the huge liner. The assembly of cranes, experts and tons of concrete as well as the professional expertise needed to right the ship.  

The marshalling of assets is something all companies face albeit rarely on the scale of a liner salvage or in the face of such a human disaster.  But it is not uncommon for poor asset management within an enterprise to figuratively and quite literally 'sink the ship'. 

 If you are relying on spreadsheets to manage allocation and asset redundancy then you face the likelihood of following the fate of the Concordia, being left high and dry while others go about their business in a successful fashion. 

A recent article in Business Day came to the conclusion that if an enterprise is aiming for service, performance and financial improvement it needs to devise a good asset management strategy.

"Every asset needs to be managed and maintained to ensure it functions within the design parameters". 

 "The operational phase of an asset is the most useful period of its life and this is when the asset is managed and used to deliver services to support the core business of an organisation." 

Allocating,  tracking and monitoring physical asset depreciation all all key elements in the success of any business.  Being fully aware of the life-cycle of any asset is important.  It is no good waiting for a financial shortfall or the sudden realisation of an assets age to prompt action on asset management.  

Whole-life asset management is the name of the game if you hope to get the best out of your investment. 

The advance of technology also means that the assets you have invested in today will not necessarily be the assets you need tomorrow.  Consider for example, how data centres and company IT departments  full of server hardware have been largely superseded by server virtualization, which in turn made infrastructure clouds possible. 

The Institute of Civil Engineers (ICE) provide a very good guide on realising a world class infrastructure and the guiding principles of asset management.  In looking at the future they identified the following challenges:
  • Adapting your assets to climate change given the impact that this having and will have in the future
  • Social change with different demographics and the way we will interact with our infrastructure
  • Economic challenges of asset maintenance, made more difficult when world economies are sluggish
  • Critical skills shortages to manage and maintain older technologies and assets
  • Political inability to foresee the need for infrastructure provision and the impact that will have on society
  • New uses of technology which for some will be a challenge but is also an opportunity to overcome ineffective data capture and knowledge management.
So investment in a good asset management system has become a must to keep your business ship on a  true course
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