How to Develop Your Asset Management Process.

Teams often get tunnel vision and think about their tasks in silos. The more management can foster the idea of tasks being connected, the better. Teams need to understand the impact their work has on other aspects of the business to keep the business healthy. In the facilities world, it is vital to understand how facility management, asset management, and maintenance are all interconnected. Buildings, equipment, signs, etc. are all assets to be tracked and managed. Part maintenance for your various assets is also a major piece of the puzzle. At the end of the day, asset management is deeply connected to your customer experience and overall success.

In an ideal world, a facility manager knows exactly what you have at each of your locations, and you know its condition. To keep your operation running smoothly and optimize your bottom line, facility managers need to have a thorough understanding of the assets they manage. The degree to which you can answer these questions quickly and accurately is a measure or your company’s asset management maturity level.

  • What assets do you have?
  • Where are the assets located?
  • When did you acquire the asset?
  • How much did it cost to acquire the asset?
  • What is the asset’s current condition?
  • How critical is the asset to the mission of serving customers?
  • Who’s responsible for monitoring the assets condition?
  • Is the asset under some type of warranty?
  • Who can fix the asset when it breaks?
  • Who can prevent the asset from breaking or at a minimum mitigate the risk?
  • What is the maintenance cost trend?
  • How much would it cost to replace the asset?
  • Who can authorize a major overhaul or replacement?

As a facility manager, you have to track assets so they keep functioning and doing what you need them to do. Your CFO also looks at assets from a different view that analyzes the life-cycle perspective. Tracking historical data on each asset is critical to answering questions related to repairing vs. replacing. It is also a key component of the capital expenditure planning process. As a general rule, the cost of maintaining an asset increases with age. At some point, it becomes more economical to replace than maintain. It is important to capture data about maintenance cost trends at two levels. The micro-level looks at the cost associated with each individual asset. The macro-level examines how all the fryers across your portfolio are performing. This provides valuable insights into capital expenditure planning.

Process and data capture are absolutely key components of proper asset management. Staff turnover and changes in management mean critical asset-related information cannot be stored in the heads of employees. Documentation is vital and several people at your restaurant locations need to know how to access and find this critical information.

So what does a good process look like?

An organized filing system with file folders, three-ring binders, or a network share is where many companies start. It allows you to dig out answers when you need them. This is a time and space intensive solution that really only works for smaller operations. Companies often quickly move to spreadsheets or databases. This allows for the capture of data in rows and columns that can be manipulated to create management information for analysis and action.

Spreadsheets are amazingly powerful tools. You can grab a group of numbers and quickly calculate totals, ranges, minimums, maximums, averages, etc. You can even create charts showing trends. It is true that spreadsheets can be powerful and provide good reports for analysis, but the question of data integrity comes into play. Spreadsheets don’t have inherent validity checks when the data is entered. A very skilled spreadsheet master can build some in, but that requires another level of skill that most teams don’t possess.

Anytime you can automate data capture, it is a win. You will increase the reliability of your data and make the information available for management’s analysis more quickly. You will also reduce administrative costs. For companies looking to scale, choosing a system for tracking early on has its advantages. Your data will be tracked further back with more accuracy, giving management a clear line of sight on historical data for the macro portfolio-level decisions.

One efficient way to leverage the data you are already capturing on your assets is through work orders. They identify who did the work, where it was done, who asked for it, how long it took to complete, the costs associated and the details on the type of work conducted. Analyzing collections of work orders over time provides a wealth of valuable information. You can learn about responsiveness, frequency, costs, and the list goes on. A good work order system captures data at its source, in a timely manner, and performs validations to help enforce data integrity.

To test the maturity of your companies asset management process, go back to the list of questions at the beginning of the article. Organize the list in order of importance to your operations. Then, rate yourself on each question using a scale of one to five. After completing the exercise, you can determine if your organization has a good handle on asset management or if you need more resources for a system to manage your portfolio.

When the time is right, investing in a CMMS system that integrates asset management will save your company money. Sometimes the answer it provides will be simple, like letting you know if a piece of equipment is under warranty. Other times you will benefit from knowing that replacing each freezer when it reaches the 10-year mark is the optimal repair vs. replace window. Or you can see that a shift needs to happen with a vendor because you can see that all of the lights in your exterior signs are going out faster than expected and a different bulb supplier is in order. What each operation learns will be unique, but a properly integrated CMMS and asset management system will give your company a powerful tool to make smart decisions. These decisions benefit the whole organization. When a restaurant group is run well, your customers will keep coming back again and again.

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