Auckland Council – CFAME: Asset Information System Enhancement

Enhancing Community Facilities asset management capability through integrating strategic, tactical and operational asset management with asset systems capability.  

1 Summary

Community Facilities (CF) was established in November 2015 after consolidating several asset management functions across Auckland Council responsible for an asset portfolio of $11 billion made up of over 4,000 parks (500,000 ha) and 3,000 buildings (400,000 m2).  The CF Asset Management Enhancement Project (CFAME) was initiated in 2016 to speed up the availability of vital information for decision making and support asset management using the latest technologies and advanced analytics. Informed by the Asset Information Strategy, CFAME success was attributed to a holistic and structured approach to input-analysis-output of raw data, converting it to information, then knowledge and finally intelligence.

Figure 1- Asset Information Strategy Key Elements

Made up of three phases staged over a period of five years beginning June 2016, the deliverables of the Project are (Table 1):

2 Overview

2.1 The Challenge

Apart from to the strategic issues and the operational risks of forming a new department, CF was also about to establish a full facilities management contract ($150m per annum), transitioning thirty-eight different maintenance contracts delivered by twenty-nine suppliers to seven main suppliers delivering three main types of contracts (full facilities, arboriculture, and ecological) across five service areas aligned to 21 local board boundaries (Figure 2).

The new data structure had to incorporate not only known asset attributes but also had to factor in future levels of service definitions and maintenance strategies.  At the same time, the department of over 300 staff was undergoing organisational restructuring with the risk of losing individual asset knowledge not captured in any systems. The risks escalated when it was discovered that the data collected over time during the asset lifecycle by different departments before CF was formed were of varied standards, quality, consistency and completeness; and held in different systems, previously used for different purposes and did not align to the current CF operating model.

Figure 2- Service Areas and Local Boards

2.2 The Approach

With the above considerations it was imperative that CFAME had to integrate relevant useful information promptly to convert it quickly to knowledge that aligned with the department’s goals and objectives of its new operating model and Council’s intentions.  The quality of asset management (AM) decisions, such as whether to replace or to maintain an aging asset, can only be as good as the information used to support the decision-making.

To mitigate strategic, tactical, and operational risks concurrently, it was decided that instead of working around data inefficiencies, a better outcome would be achieved through an enterprise-wide project to reconfigure the existing asset data.  A small team was put together to re-define the asset meta-data dimensions and selectively prioritised the cleansing of critical master data that will be used to build asset renewals and operational expenditure models.

Agility and flexibility were called for even in the earliest stages of reconstruction of the meta-data. Unlike previous implementation where the IT would set all the data parameters regardless of business needs, CFAME was led by the business (i.e. CF) which then engage the council IT specialists in a collaborative manner where for instance, staff from both departments were co-located in the building from time to time to minimise time lag in information exchange via face-to-face interaction as opposed to lengthy emails, phone calls or scheduled meetings.  

Knowing that lack of awareness, lack of trust and fear of change are common behaviours inhibiting the successful implementing of any EAMS or Asset Information Strategy (AIS), a key part of our successful implementation was reaching out to current and potential users of the new information and EAMS capability. During the engagement process, it was important to acknowledge that the importance of different data types can greatly shift over time –information considered not-critical to the organization five years ago is now crucial, so we needed to identify the lost value in our data gaps and rectify accordingly. Bottom-up evolution for a culture change that regarded asset information as a strategic asset require buy-in from all staff. Other stakeholders then needed to be sold that disruption to operation (up to 12 months) as a result of changes to the asset meta- and master-data was the only option available so that we could move away from the status quo of cobbling together information from inconsistent asset hierarchies, incomplete asset attributes, and missing critical information. To address the above challenges, CFAME adopted both top-down and bottom-up approach.

Top-down decisions were centred around trade-offs between immediate data accuracy and the costs of achieving the benefits were considered against the decisions that could be made with the data. CF aims for higher data accuracy over time when additional funding is made available and when new technologies are introduced. The level of detail and complexity of information as defined in the Asset Information Strategy was based on asset criticality in relation to health & safety, service impact, legislative/regulatory and systems significance in terms of systemic failure in addition, as part of the organisation restructure, key roles and responsibilities were assigned throughout the department for information capture, analysis and reporting. For example, there is a team of asset information specialists and advisors tasked with data collection on site and converting technical information provided by architects, planners and project managers into a useable format in GIS. There is a separate decision support team responsible for ensuring the right information is available for decision makers.

Figure 3- Asset Management Considerations and Information Flows

The bottom-up approach focused on how the data and information can be effectively utilised horizontally across different business units as well as vertical functional areas associated with lifecycle management of the assets.

2.3 Project Management

Project governance was provided by a Steering Group made up of senior staff across five departments to ensure deliverables at each milestone met business needs. Inputs and outputs of the Project was linked to several projects to rationalise limited resources and capability within the department. Each workstream leads were responsible for change management, stakeholder engagement and communications.

Quality of deliverables were defined by the users (e.g. council advisors) and customers (e.g. politicians, suppliers). Feedback loops were well established at each stage of the development to ensure there was confirmation from different group of stakeholders before proceeding to the next stage. The Project Managers and Project Leads held daily or weekly meetings to report on any deviation from planned or unforeseen issues that had to be resolved almost immediately. Cost overruns of some jobs mainly due to system restrictions were being managed as the costs of using several external consultants could be as much as $50,000 per day. Only minimal room for errors or rework could be done because of imposed deadlines and timelines by other projects, contract renewals and the LTP. The Project also adopted an agile approach, particularly when there was a need to modify or change the deliverables at an early stage.

3 Contributions

Aligning to the ISO 55001 and best practices stipulated in the IIMM / NAMS guidelines, the project deliverables forms part of the asset management improvement initiatives in the AMP and the thirty-year Infrastructure Strategy that has addressed data, system, process and capability issues. CFAME deliverables were focused on both static and dynamic information that are used to support strategic, tactical and operational facility management activities (Figure 4 and Figure 5)

Figure 4- Before CFAME (Phase I) Implementation
Figure 5- After CFAME (Phase I) – Implementation

Aware that any Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS) and the information it can provide does not have any intrinsic value until it is used. To address this, the Asset Lifecyle Management (ALM) and Central Reporting Asset Management (CRAM) tools were developed to enable informed decision to determine council priorities. The ALM tool is based on a risk-based asset management approach that enables a better understanding of asset risks by factoring asset condition and criticality information as simplified proxies to develop medium- and long-term renewal projections (Figure 6).

Figure 6 – Sample of outputs of the CRAM tool

The CRAM tool provides a quicker dissemination of knowledge to a large audience to support the various LTP processes (Figure 7).

Figure 7- CRAM Dashboard – Information of toilets in the Rodney Local Board

Other evidence of the success of the project based on feedback from stakeholders are:

Figure 8 – Project Success Evidence

4  Conclusion

Supported by an effective Asset Information Strategy CFAME has turned raw data into a strategic asset management tool with the efficient collection and effective use of relevant asset technical performance information such as condition, asset risks and criticality profiles. Within a short time, CFAME was able to deliver a tool that enabled a better understanding of cause, effect and likelihood of asset failure that could also be used to prioritise capital programs. This enablement could also be used to better understand the impact of natural hazards on the facilities and how to strike a balance between asset resilience against efforts dedicated to managing growth, maintain service levels and aging facilities. Deliverables of Phase One has provided descriptive, predictive and prescriptive analytics capability for the current LTP process and contributes to the Council’s strategic direction through:

  • Provision of quality advice and support to elected members for evidence-based decision making;
  • Enable better understanding of asset risks and trade-offs of decisions including greater transparency of decisions made and their consequences, e.g. service impacts, risk profile;
  • Easier access to asset information through self-service retrieval of core information (e.g. location, consents) and use of basic analytical tools;
  • Optimising effective use of asset information through continuous expansion of knowledge base;
  •  Leveraging asset management intelligence through a central depository previously held separately and often fragmented.

The data migration part of the Project was completed under budget ($3m) and within a shorter time frame. CFAME was executed during the period where both the IT and CF departments were undergoing a major restructure, together with the change of Mayor and the Council’s strategic direction. The IT Project Manager was changed four times with technical leads leaving Council or re-assigned to the higher profile projects. The original datasets transferred to CF was in a state that could not be used for simple analysis whilst Council was preparing the procurement process for a new full facilities contract. Staff involved in the amalgamation in 2010 believed it would take 1-2 years to complete this but CFAME completed data migration in nine months. Several hundred thousand records were created and validated through the system and manually by staff as part of the data cleansing process. To resolve issues of limited time, the team volunteered to work on weekends and after-hours continuously over two months as to postpone production after 2 years was not an acceptable option.  This was made possible because team members were extremely driven to be a part of creating something original and exciting. Issues were resolved within days that would have normally take weeks as others were also influenced by highly motivated and collaborative behaviour.

Surplus resources were re-assigned to the business intelligence (BI) workstream to enable more modelling and analytical tools in addition to ALM and CRAM. Several manual processes have been automated achieving immediate financial savings and surplus resources assigned to other projects. Recognised for innovation and project management the project won the Society of Local Government Managers 2018 Innovation Award for Asset Management (Figure 9) and CF has been providing advice to other New Zealand Organisations on a similar journey of enhancing their asset systems. 

Figure 9- 2018 Solgm Innovation in Asset Management Award
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