There is a lot going on in the area of asset management that portends dramatic change in our approach to resource management in the near future—and it’s about time.

The adjustments that will be required of the A/E/C/FM industry to move it to disciplined asset management systems will force it to develop new workflows and measures of value, just as the gradual embrace of building information modeling has done, but the changes are necessary and the payback will be large.

The simple premise is that physical assets should be evaluated, first of all, on their contribution to desired organizational outcomes. Asset managers must ask, not what organizations can do for their buildings and infrastructure, but what those buildings and infrastructure can do for the organizations. 

This approach addresses, head-on, struggles the industry has been going through to improve sustainability, productivity and competency.  Those objectives will remain, but the motivators driving performance are about to change.

The difference is more than semantics. It strikes at prime movers driving resource decision making, a fact recognized by the International Standards Organization with its publication last January of the ISO 55000 family of standards, the first set of International Standards for Asset Management. The publication of those standards recognizes asset management as a distinct discipline, complementary to planning, architecture, engineering, economics, facility management and the like. 

The reason we need to adopt international standards for asset management is complexity.  The delivery and operation of buildings and infrastructure is becoming more complex every day. That is why ISO, responding to global market trends, has produced an international management standard to apply to all types of assets, which it defines as anything that creates value for the organization.  This includes people, things, technologies, knowledge and reputation. The ISO standard defines what an asset management system should be, and what needs to be considered when establishing a disciplined asset management strategy.
This relates to buildings and infrastructure at a high level.  Advancing sustainability, productivity and competency become mere tactics.  Asset performance contributing to organizational goals and objectives is what becomes most important.  Design and construction actions are to be valued by how fast, how well and how long they deliver a stream of benefits. 

This refocuses resource decision making in fundamental ways.  For example the Asset Leadership Network, a new organization formed to advance asset management, is circulating a draft Executive Order for Federal Asset Management that would clearly integrate Agency Strategic Plans required under U.S. Code with annual budgets and a new Strategic Asset Management Plan, based on ISO 55000.  The trifecta, linking mission, budget and asset performance has the ability to drive dramatic change in ways that technology advancements alone never can do.

This is will guide the financiers who fund the work performed by the A/E/C/FM industry to demand high organizational ROI from projects.  The changes that will be driven by the adoption of disciplined asset management systems will motivate the industry to better use technology to design, build and manage facilities for improved organizational effectiveness, the overarching goal. This will improve the industry’s ability to deliver real, lasting value to society with every project—and it is about time.

Jack Dempsey has been developing technology-enabled, enterprise asset management systems for owners of large, complex facility portfolios for more than 20 years, first as an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard, and more recently as a principle with Jacobs Engineering.