Asset Management

How to get meaningful insight from your assets

Share this post:

How many of you have uprooted your organization and implemented an expensive Asset Management software package, trained hundreds of users? You constantly feed data to the system, like a zookeeper feeding a hungry lion, only to realize you are not getting anything actionable out of it?

In my career of nearly 28 years in the engineering, maintenance and asset management markets, many of which I spent providing technology solutions for business, I have seen countless organizations committed to “world class” asset management. These organizations use these systems yet still struggle. They select, purchase, and mobilize to deploy technology tools, but can’t seem to extract the information they need to make reasonable change.

Studies suggest that this inability to improve their asset maintenance could and management practices is costing them millions of wasted dollars in bottom line savings, cost avoidance, lost capacity, and unnecessary or untimely investment.

The problem

You have this robust system but it hasn’t become the “tool” it was promised to be. You can’t seem to get useful information from the new application that really helps.

I routinely ask my clients what is stopping you from getting the information you need from the system.

Here’s what I hear most frequently:

  • It wasn’t configured with the end game, our desired needs in mind.
  • We don’t have useful reports and it’s hard to get information out of it.
  • We didn’t really know what we wanted when we started.
  • Our people don’t use it correctly, don’t put the right data into it or the data is bad.
  • We don’t have the right people and can’t afford consultants to do it.
  • We’re too busy managing work orders and fighting fires to do anything else.

The list could go on and on…

Addressing this challenge can be daunting. If you are in the group who chooses to throw on your proverbial work boots and decide to step up to the plate to address it, where do you start?

For me, being an engineer, I usually try to revert to my experience and training. If that doesn’t work I go see a therapist.

Joking aside, I have found that in the spirit of KISS (not the band, the Keep It Simple Stupid philosophy) the best solutions are those that are intuitive – discernible to the masses, while providing specific and understandable information that can be actioned.  In one scenario, you find you have a lot of data, but don’t know what to do with it.

Here, as a friend and colleague of mine likes to say, is the “Secret Sauce”:

The solution

Categorize your core strategic drivers; organize the elements of your business that need to be used as a means to measure these drivers; then deploy sensible metrics that provide you with timely information to help you make decisions that enable you to invoke the changes needed for improvement. That’s it.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had a set of metrics based on all that new, perceived, or phantom data? Metrics that could give you peace of mind to take the right action, at the right time, to improve Reliability, Operation, Resource Management, and Cost Control?

Furthermore, how nice would it be to know where to focus your limited resources on process improvement, asset renewal, or RCM analysis to improve sustainment strategies?

The answer to this puzzle begins with categorizing those strategic drivers in your organization that matter most to you and the business. I have found that they typically fit into one of four areas.

Next, define the business elements that fit within those four groups, for example, Service Delivery, Asset Health, Operations/Maintenance Performance, and Cost Management.

Figure 1: Measuring Asset Management

Figure 1: Measuring Asset Management

If you know which assets are causing you the most trouble, or better yet, which ones will cause you trouble in the near or distant future, you can take the right action at the right time to address issues with the assets. As a result, you are proactively able to lessen the impact of degraded operation or failure.

Once the metrics are defined you can then assemble the final pieces:

  • What the output should look like
  • How it should be used, what decision or action it facilitates
  • Who should use it
  • Where to get the data

If you can work through these steps with your team, your friendly business analyst or IT person will have what they need to execute – to do the keyboard pounding and techie stuff necessary to create and deploy a better set of processes for you.

Understand that Asset Management, Reliability, and Maintenance is not a perfect science. There is no easy way to make the perfect decision, to take the perfect action 100% of the time.

Anyone who has spent any time in the field can attest to how difficult this is due to the variability associated with equipment, conditions, personnel, and many other factors. However, it is possible to use the information you already have in your Asset Management System to get closer to that 100 percent.

Getting started is the key. Once you get going, the sustained effort falls under that heading we sometimes see in expensive industry self-help books: Continuous Improvement.

Do it right and you will experience a variation of the Peter Drucker quote:

“You can now improve it, because you’re now measuring it.”

For more information

Watson IoT learns from, and infuses intelligence into, the physical world to transform business and enhance the human experience. Learn how Watson IoT is transforming industries with cognitive insight into IoT data at

IBM Maximo Asset Management can distill insights from the Internet of Things to help focus maintenance resources, reduce unplanned downtime and increase operational efficiency. Gain near real-time visibility into asset usage, extend the useful life of equipment, improve return on assets and defer new purchases—while unifying processes for wide-ranging enterprise asset management functions across multiple sites.

  • Learn more about how IBM Maximo can help you manage your enterprise assets more effectively, contact your IBM representative or IBM Business Partner.
  • Read the paper to learn more about IBM Maximo provides insight to achieve better planning and control of all your assets.
  • Learn more about Maximo Asset Health Insights to better understand what your assets are saying and predict failure before it occurs.
  • Sign up for Operational Genius, a monthly Watson IoT newsletter. Operational Genius is geared up to be your one-stop resource covering news about IoT and analytics, predictive maintenance, facilities management, asset management and intelligent machines, and more – delivered direct to your inbox.

This article is a culmination of over 25 years of experience in practicing and advising clients on asset management. It originally appeared on LinkedIn on April 18, 2017 and is being expanded for a future article in industry publications.

Add Comment
No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.Required fields are marked *

More Asset Management stories
By Sarah Dudley on March 7, 2018

The complete guide to the benefits of CMMS

In the first post  of this series on computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS), we did a deep dive into how CMMS came to be and what its core capabilities are. Now that you understand the fundamentals, we’re going to dig a little deeper into the benefits of CMMS and how exactly it can transform your […]

Continue reading

By Kim Woodbury on February 15, 2018

What we THINK about: Enterprise Asset Management

It’s that time of year again. What time, you may be asking? The time of year to think about what new challenges you will take on and how you will execute them. To think about ways your business can innovate with new enterprise asset management (EAM) technologies. And, most importantly, to think of ways to […]

Continue reading

By Sarah Dudley on January 26, 2018

What is CMMS? Absolutely everything you need to know

Way back when, maintenance records were kept on paper.  People also used to use paper maps for driving directions and walked uphill to school both ways. Thankfully, times have changed and so have the way you manage your maintenance operations. At its core, CMMS is a tool that enables more effective maintenance operations – no […]

Continue reading