Viewpoint: Why local and state governments need asset management
By Jennifer Daugherty
Every year, local governments spend a considerable amount of money on equipment purchases, replacements, upgrades, repairs and preventative maintenance. Budget cuts and staff reductions haveled to fragmented equipment management, making it virtually impossible to determine if the dollars spent annually on equipment purchases, maintenance and repairs have been invested wisely.
Asset management — the tactical management of physical assets — is vital to government entities for a simple reason: control. In a stagnant economy, it’s more important than ever to control expenses. Yet, for many government personnel, asset management consists of a simple spreadsheet used to track information about equipment bought or maintained under their area of control.
While it makes economic and operational sense to implement an organization-wide equipment asset management program, it’s difficult to do so without assistance.A variety of asset management tools are on the market today, ranging from very simple to more complicated and technically challenging. The goals of an equipment asset management program are to: manage inventory; track the location of equipment; monitor preventative maintenance schedules; manage manufacturer warranties and service agreements; record the cost of equipment repairs; capture pertinent information on each service event, such as vendor, parts, labor and travel costs; track surplus equipment; and make information accessible to all managers and equipment users.
For an asset management system to be successful, it must be embraced by both end users and administration. Since there may be some apprehension about implementing a potentially complicated and costly system, the benefits should be quickly noticeable and outweigh the system’s cost. A training program, as well as ongoing customer support, also should be offered to educate all end users.
Before implementing a system-wide equipment asset management program, conduct an honest assessment of your organization’s current equipment management practices. Consider the following questions:
Is a physical inventory of all equipment assets conducted each year?
Which department is responsible for this task?
Are the locations of equipment being tracked?
Is the inventory list updated as soon as any changes are made?
Are the cost and other details of every equipment service recorded?
Are manufacturer warranties and service agreements monitored?
Is excess, surplus and obsolete equipment tracked?
Equipment asset management information must be accurate and kept up to date. The quality of the equipment information collected and tracked will affect the overall cost of owning the equipment. This vital information also will affect future budgeting for equipment expenses. Using an asset management program to its fullest potential puts control back into local managers’ hands and relieves them of the administrative headache of trying to manage a multitude of equipment located across a city, county or state.
Jennifer Daugherty is employed by The Remi Group, which offers equipment maintenance management programs. The Remi Group currently manages 19 state contracts. Daugherty can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.