Strategic Asset Management (SAM): An In-Depth Guide

Table of Contents

Strategic asset management (SAM) is a framework that uses data-based decision-making to optimize the lifespan of assets. SAM combines financial, operational, and maintenance best practices to ensure the best return on investment and the sustainability of assets like infrastructure, buildings, and equipment.

Within the strategic asset management framework, data helps asset managers:

  • Optimize the longevity of assets 
  • Proactively schedule maintenance and follow-up tasks
  • Prioritize asset spending
  • Incorporate asset management into long-term planning, including Capital Improvement Planning (CIP

By using data, those doing asset management can make their work more efficient and more streamlined, shifting from a reactive to a strategic approach.

In this guide to strategic asset management, we cover the SAM framework, the benefits of SAM, tips for implementation, how to develop a SAM plan, and considerations for finding software to support your strategic goals.

strategic-asset-management

What Is Strategic Asset Management (SAM)?

Strategic Asset Management (SAM) represents a comprehensive approach to managing physical assets, and is crucial for effective long-term maintenance and operational planning in organizations. 

This top-down framework focuses on making informed decisions about long-term physical asset investments, balancing capital and operational expenditure from a total expenditure (TOTEX) standpoint.

The essence of strategic asset management lies in its ability to align an organization’s physical infrastructure investments with its overarching strategic goals.

 At its best, using a strategic approach to asset management is not about managing assets based on available budgets or guessing at future needs. 

Instead, SAM takes a data-driven approach, leveraging condition data to make strategic decisions, considering current service levels and future community needs. 

SAM is the cornerstone for effective infrastructure asset management, helping organizations align their mission and strategic objectives. It delivers at strategic, tactical, and operational levels, creating a sustainable and efficient future for facilities and infrastructure.

Reactive Asset Management vs. Strategic Asset Management

The opposite of strategic asset management is ad-hoc or reactive asset management, also simply called traditional asset management. 

  • Reactive asset management. Key decisions are made on the fly, without being part of a long-term plan. 
  • Strategic asset management—. Key decisions are made using asset data, leveraging new digital platforms to organize and analyze data, stretching limited budgets to optimize the lifespan of assets. 

In a reactive approach to asset management, personnel address problems as they arise rather than anticipating them and addressing them proactively. This reactive approach can lead to inefficiencies and result in higher costs. It can also harm the longevity of assets.

New digital tools are changing all of this, allowing asset managers to get more and more strategic in their work. In the last decade, we’ve seen the advent of modern platforms for asset management, allowing those who do this important work to make the transition from reactive to strategic.

But to be clear, reactive asset management is how assets are typically managed. 

Common tools of those who follow a traditional approach are:

  • Written notes
  • Spreadsheets
  • Whiteboards

In contrast, the tools used by those taking a strategic approach to asset management include:

The flexibility and robustness of these tools allows for detailed data collection from anywhere, supporting those doing asset management while in the field—or anywhere else.

strategic-asset-management-tree-management

Tree management with Cartegraph Asset Management

True Strategic Asset Management: The Reality vs. The Ideal

One thing to note—it’s actually a lofty goal to achieve true strategic asset management. 

Many public works departments and other organizations doing asset management are on the path toward achieving SAM, but are far from actually doing it.

By true strategic asset management, we mean you have data on all your assets stored in a single, central platform and you have fully optimized all of your operations based on that data.

Most organizations:

  • Don’t have data on all their assets 
  • Don’t have full automation and optimization in place based on asset data

That being said, just using data at all to make decisions in your asset management is an incredibly important step in the move away from reactive asset management and toward a more optimal way to manage assets. 

And many organizations will realize incredible cost and time savings just by implementing a small amount of data collection, and using it to make decisions strategically.

Also, any use of data in asset management can rightly be called strategic. If you’re using data to make decisions, you are taking a strategic approach in your work.

So don’t worry if you haven’t achieved the ideal of true strategic asset management just yet. Almost no one has!

12 Benefits of Strategic Asset Management

Why should you care about strategic asset management?

Simply put, it can make your life easier. To get a little more specific, you should care about SAM because it can help your department save money and time while improving resident satisfaction.

Here are the top 12 benefits of strategic asset management.

1. Doing More with Less

SAM helps you streamline operations by automating tasks like work orders and inventory updates, significantly reducing manual work and increasing efficiency.

2. Optimizing the Lifecycle of Your Assets 

SAM enables strategic decision-making in prioritizing work, avoiding asset failure, and assessing risks, thereby enhancing safety for residents and extending the lifespan of assets.

3. Helping You Make Better Decisions 

Utilizing data for work prioritization, risk management, budgeting, and asset life optimization leads to more informed and effective decision-making.

4. Protecting Your Budget from Cuts

By providing clear, concrete data, strategic asset management strengthens the case for keeping your budget as it currently is—and may even help you secure additional funding.

5. Protecting Your Department from Lawsuits

Maintaining a reliable digital record of all inspections and maintenance helps safeguard against potential lawsuits, a common concern for those who manage facilities and other assets where people may get injured.

6. Improving Productivity 

A clearer understanding of necessary tasks, enabled by data, allows for more efficient use of limited resources, enhancing overall productivity.

7. Enhancing Transparency with Residents

Sharing data can help improve public trust, increasing the transparency of asset management operations with your residents.

8. Planning for the Future

Data can help you project long-term maintenance costs and staffing needs, ensuring the longevity and functionality of community facilities. It can also be crucial for long-term CIP and other strategic planning initiatives.

9. Supporting Sustainability

Strategic decisions in upgrading aging infrastructure consider both immediate costs and long-term savings, promoting sustainability. It also allows for environmental sustainability considerations, allowing you to plan in a way that will have less of an impact on the environment.

10. Managing Risk and Ensuring Safety

Strategic asset management addresses the growing concerns of risk and safety in the context of limited resources and deferred maintenance, helping you prioritize your work with risk management in mind.

11. Improving Reporting

The more data you have, the easier it is to meet regulatory requirements around reporting, and to pull the reports you need, both for the community and for internal stakeholders.

12. Making Successful FEMA Grant Applications

When applying for a FEMA grant after a disaster, the more data you have on hand reflecting the conditions and costs of your assets prior to the event, as well as the specific type of work done in response to the disaster and its associated costs, the more funds you’ll be able to recoup.

Getting Started with Strategic Asset Management

So far, we’ve been talking a lot about all the things you can accomplish when you get strategic in how you do asset management.

But before you can do any of these things, you have to collect asset data. This data lives in your inventory, forming the foundation of any strategic effort you might make.

Your asset inventory should answer critical questions like: 

  • What assets does your department own? 
  • Where are these assets located? 
  • What is their current condition? 

Here are three steps to follow to help you create your inventory.

1. Identify Your Assets

Before you can create an inventory, you have to identify what exactly will go in it.

That’s why the first step in creating a digital inventory of your assets is to identify your assets. Using groups, categories, and types, you can establish uniform naming conventions for your assets, ensuring that everyone, across all departments, is speaking the same language.

To help you get started, here are the most common asset groups found in local government:

  • Transportation and Traffic
  • Walkability
  • Signals
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Facilities
  • Wastewater Collection
  • Stormwater
  • Water Distribution
  • Water treatment plants
  • Wastewater treatment plants

Within each of these groups there are asset categories. And within those categories, there are specific asset types.

Drilling down further, here is an example of the most common asset categories found within asset management for Parks and Recreation:

strategic-asset-management-asset-categories

2. Create Your Benchmarks 

After identifying your asset categories, the next step before creating your inventory is to identify benchmarks for evaluating the condition of your assets.

As with establishing asset categories, identifying benchmarks is key to ensuring your inventory is uniform, allowing anyone from any department to use it. 

A good benchmarking method classifies the condition of assets into categories ranging from excellent to serious. It also includes prioritization guidance drawn from risk criteria, since asset failure and asset risk may be two different but interconnected considerations—for example, given safety considerations you may want to replace equipment on a playground earlier in its life cycle than you would for equipment in other facilities.

Here’s how benchmarking might help determine the right treatment at the right time for a pavement segment:

  • EXCELLENT CONDITION—Requires only routine maintenance. An aggressive preventive maintenance cycle of sealing, patching, grading, and overlays will extend pavement life and avoid costly reactive measures.
  • GOOD OR FAIR CONDITION—Needs preventative work in addition to routine maintenance. The pavement segment may exhibit drainage problems or require ADA access modifications.
  • POOR CONDITION—Will require extensive work and significant investment to correct deficiencies. The pavement has deteriorated and requires more invasive, costly treatments.
  • VERY POOR OR SERIOUS CONDITION—Nearing end of useful life. Consider replacement alternatives. It will be more economical to reconstruct the segment than to repair or upgrade.

strategic-asset-management-pavement

Case Study: COUNTY OF FREDERICK, MARYLAND

For years, departments in the County of Frederick relied on a combination of spreadsheets, file folders, and personal knowledge to manage their diverse assets, creating a siloed landscape with few connecting points. The problem? Due to a lack of data, departments struggled to justify their needs for asset upgrades and replacements—which meant they often didn’t get the funding they needed during annual budgeting. 

To improve, the County adopted Cartegraph Asset Management. Within the first nine months, County personnel input 96 asset types and 156,000 specific assets, initiating over 22,000 tasks. 

After establishing its inventory, County departments were able to go beyond merely justifying budgets. Departments could now get strategic. Supervisors now use the system to see the bigger picture in realizing actual costs associated with a facility or a park’s events, helping them integrate high-level and long-range goals into their plans, as well as making more informed decisions from one day to the next.

3. Create Your Asset Inventory

Now that you have your asset categories mapped out and your benchmarks created, it’s time to make your inventory.

To create an inventory, you’ll need to enter every asset you manage into your digital asset management system. Start your inventory work at a single facility and log every single asset there in your system, including information on assets that interact with each other.

Here are some tips for creating your inventory:

  • Be thorough, entering key data about the asset like location, replacement value, and descriptive details unique to the asset type. 

  • Do condition assessments as you make your inventory, using your benchmarks to record the condition of the asset as you find it.

  • Enter routine maintenance work related to the asset, allowing you to automate reminders and tasks in your digital system. (If you’re not sure what these will be, you can always go back and do this later.)

  • Collect GIS data showing where the asset is located so you can work with your assets in a map, allowing you to color code them by class or type and access them in real time.

Creating Your Inventory Will Take Time

Creating your inventory will be hard. It could take several months, or even several years. (The inventory hurdle is one of the main reasons we said that not many people are doing true strategic asset management.)

But when you’re done, you and your team are going to reap the benefits. You’ll have an accurate, up-to-date record of all your individual assets and the facilities in which they’re found.

This asset database will be the foundation for all your subsequent asset management work—assessing condition and remaining service life, planning repair or replacement, projecting costs, evaluating processes, and doing future planning.

Pro Tip: Consider hiring a helping hand

The County of Multnomah, OR, was buried under a ten-year backlog on traffic counting data. To catch up, the County hired data capture experts Cyclomedia. The result? In just one year, the County collected all the data it was missing, representing the equivalent of a decade of work if it had been done internally.

5 Key Elements of the Strategic Asset Management Framework

After you create an inventory—or just start to create one—you can begin implementing the strategic asset management framework.

In this context, it’s important not to let perfect be the enemy of good. 

strategic-asset-management-parks

Once you have some amount of data, you can start using it to make strategic decisions. More data will come, and you’ll get more and more strategic, but you can get started right away with improving your operations using the data you have.

So—what do you do with that data?

You start implementing the strategic asset management framework. Here are the five key elements of that framework.

1. Create a Thorough Asset Inventory

This element was covered thoroughly in the previous section, but it’s worth including here since it’s the first essential ingredient in the strategic asset management framework.

Here are some tips for creating your inventory, to be considered along with the three steps highlighted above:

  • Identify and catalog assets. List every physical asset owned by the department, including buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, and equipment.
  • Determine asset location. Record the exact location of each asset.
  • Assess asset condition. Evaluate the current state of each asset, considering age, usage, and maintenance history.
  • Estimate asset value. Calculate the current value of each asset, considering its original cost, depreciation, and replacement value.

2. Tactical Asset Management

After you have the data recorded in your inventory you can start using it to make tactical decisions, including:

  • Streamlining work orders. Develop a system for efficiently managing repair and maintenance requests.
  • Maximizing uptime. Implement strategies to reduce downtime of critical assets, like public utilities or transportation systems.
  • Performance reporting. Establish metrics and reporting systems to monitor the performance and health of assets.

3. Future Planning and Projection

Getting even more strategic, use data to move from daily, tactical decision-making to support long-term planning. 

  • Long-term cost analysis. Project future maintenance and replacement costs over the lifecycle of assets.
  • Staffing and resource planning. Determine the human and financial resources needed for future asset maintenance and operations.
  • Upgrade and replacement planning. Identify assets that require upgrading or replacement and plan accordingly.

4. Sustainable Decision-Making

Your asset data will also help you address sustainability, another key aspect of implementing strategic asset management.

In this context, sustainability refers not only to the environment, but also to getting the most out of your limited resources.

Here are some key sustainability considerations:

  • Cost-benefit analysis. Weigh the immediate costs against long-term benefits and savings for each decision.
  • Community impact assessment. Consider how decisions will affect the local community and its services.
  • Environmental sustainability. Evaluate the environmental impact of asset management decisions.

5. Implementation and Continuous Improvement

Another important element of being truly strategic is that the work is never done.

Rather, you’re always using data to iterate and improve, following a flywheel of data collection→data analysis—>implementation . . . and then back to →data collection to evaluate the success of your implementation.

Here are some guiding activities to help you continue to improve:

  • Policy and procedure development. Create guidelines and procedures for asset management—and revisit them periodically to make sure they’re still relevant.
  • Training and development. Ensure staff are trained in new procedures and technologies.
  • Monitoring and review. Regularly review and update asset management strategies based on performance data and changing community needs.

Transportation Department Example

Implementing the strategic asset management framework in a city’s transportation department:

  • Asset inventory. Catalog all vehicles, traffic signals, and road infrastructure.
  • Tactical management. Implement a system for prioritizing road repairs based on traffic volume and pavement condition.
  • Future planning. Project the costs of expanding public transportation over the next two decades.
  • Sustainable decision-making. Assess the impact of introducing electric buses on both cost and environmental footprint.
  • Implementation and improvement. Train staff on new traffic management software and continuously monitor its effectiveness.
strategic-asset-management-transportation

What Is Strategic Asset Management (SAM)?

Strategic Asset Management (SAM) represents a comprehensive approach to managing physical assets, and is crucial for effective long-term maintenance and operational planning in organizations. 

This top-down framework focuses on making informed decisions about long-term physical asset investments, balancing capital and operational expenditure from a total expenditure (TOTEX) standpoint.

The essence of strategic asset management lies in its ability to align an organization’s physical infrastructure investments with its overarching strategic goals.

 At its best, using a strategic approach to asset management is not about managing assets based on available budgets or guessing at future needs. 

Instead, SAM takes a data-driven approach, leveraging condition data to make strategic decisions, considering current service levels and future community needs. 

SAM is the cornerstone for effective infrastructure asset management, helping organizations align their mission and strategic objectives. It delivers at strategic, tactical, and operational levels, creating a sustainable and efficient future for facilities and infrastructure.

Reactive Asset Management vs. Strategic Asset Management

The opposite of strategic asset management is ad-hoc or reactive asset management, also simply called traditional asset management. 

  • Reactive asset management. Key decisions are made on the fly, without being part of a long-term plan. 
  • Strategic asset management—. Key decisions are made using asset data, leveraging new digital platforms to organize and analyze data, stretching limited budgets to optimize the lifespan of assets. 

In a reactive approach to asset management, personnel address problems as they arise rather than anticipating them and addressing them proactively. This reactive approach can lead to inefficiencies and result in higher costs. It can also harm the longevity of assets.

New digital tools are changing all of this, allowing asset managers to get more and more strategic in their work. In the last decade, we’ve seen the advent of modern platforms for asset management, allowing those who do this important work to make the transition from reactive to strategic.

But to be clear, reactive asset management is how assets are typically managed. 

Common tools of those who follow a traditional approach are:

  • Written notes
  • Spreadsheets
  • Whiteboards

In contrast, the tools used by those taking a strategic approach to asset management include:

The flexibility and robustness of these tools allows for detailed data collection from anywhere, supporting those doing asset management while in the field—or anywhere else.

strategic-asset-management-tree-management

Tree management with Cartegraph Asset Management

True Strategic Asset Management: The Reality vs. The Ideal

One thing to note—it’s actually a lofty goal to achieve true strategic asset management. 

Many public works departments and other organizations doing asset management are on the path toward achieving SAM, but are far from actually doing it.

By true strategic asset management, we mean you have data on all your assets stored in a single, central platform and you have fully optimized all of your operations based on that data.

Most organizations:

  • Don’t have data on all their assets 
  • Don’t have full automation and optimization in place based on asset data

That being said, just using data at all to make decisions in your asset management is an incredibly important step in the move away from reactive asset management and toward a more optimal way to manage assets. 

And many organizations will realize incredible cost and time savings just by implementing a small amount of data collection, and using it to make decisions strategically.

Also, any use of data in asset management can rightly be called strategic. If you’re using data to make decisions, you are taking a strategic approach in your work.

So don’t worry if you haven’t achieved the ideal of true strategic asset management just yet. Almost no one has!

12 Benefits of Strategic Asset Management

Why should you care about strategic asset management?

Simply put, it can make your life easier. To get a little more specific, you should care about SAM because it can help your department save money and time while improving resident satisfaction.

Here are the top 12 benefits of strategic asset management.

1. Doing More with Less

SAM helps you streamline operations by automating tasks like work orders and inventory updates, significantly reducing manual work and increasing efficiency.

2. Optimizing the Lifecycle of Your Assets 

SAM enables strategic decision-making in prioritizing work, avoiding asset failure, and assessing risks, thereby enhancing safety for residents and extending the lifespan of assets.

3. Helping You Make Better Decisions 

Utilizing data for work prioritization, risk management, budgeting, and asset life optimization leads to more informed and effective decision-making.

4. Protecting Your Budget from Cuts

By providing clear, concrete data, strategic asset management strengthens the case for keeping your budget as it currently is—and may even help you secure additional funding.

5. Protecting Your Department from Lawsuits

Maintaining a reliable digital record of all inspections and maintenance helps safeguard against potential lawsuits, a common concern for those who manage facilities and other assets where people may get injured.

6. Improving Productivity 

A clearer understanding of necessary tasks, enabled by data, allows for more efficient use of limited resources, enhancing overall productivity.

7. Enhancing Transparency with Residents

Sharing data can help improve public trust, increasing the transparency of asset management operations with your residents.

8. Planning for the Future

Data can help you project long-term maintenance costs and staffing needs, ensuring the longevity and functionality of community facilities. It can also be crucial for long-term CIP and other strategic planning initiatives.

9. Supporting Sustainability

Strategic decisions in upgrading aging infrastructure consider both immediate costs and long-term savings, promoting sustainability. It also allows for environmental sustainability considerations, allowing you to plan in a way that will have less of an impact on the environment.

10. Managing Risk and Ensuring Safety

Strategic asset management addresses the growing concerns of risk and safety in the context of limited resources and deferred maintenance, helping you prioritize your work with risk management in mind.

11. Improving Reporting

The more data you have, the easier it is to meet regulatory requirements around reporting, and to pull the reports you need, both for the community and for internal stakeholders.

12. Making Successful FEMA Grant Applications

When applying for a FEMA grant after a disaster, the more data you have on hand reflecting the conditions and costs of your assets prior to the event, as well as the specific type of work done in response to the disaster and its associated costs, the more funds you’ll be able to recoup.

Getting Started with Strategic Asset Management

So far, we’ve been talking a lot about all the things you can accomplish when you get strategic in how you do asset management.

But before you can do any of these things, you have to collect asset data. This data lives in your inventory, forming the foundation of any strategic effort you might make.

Your asset inventory should answer critical questions like: 

  • What assets does your department own? 
  • Where are these assets located? 
  • What is their current condition? 

Here are three steps to follow to help you create your inventory.

1. Identify Your Assets

Before you can create an inventory, you have to identify what exactly will go in it.

That’s why the first step in creating a digital inventory of your assets is to identify your assets. Using groups, categories, and types, you can establish uniform naming conventions for your assets, ensuring that everyone, across all departments, is speaking the same language.

To help you get started, here are the most common asset groups found in local government:

  • Transportation and Traffic
  • Walkability
  • Signals
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Facilities
  • Wastewater Collection
  • Stormwater
  • Water Distribution
  • Water treatment plants
  • Wastewater treatment plants

Within each of these groups there are asset categories. And within those categories, there are specific asset types.

Drilling down further, here is an example of the most common asset categories found within asset management for Parks and Recreation:

strategic-asset-management-asset-categories

2. Create Your Benchmarks 

After identifying your asset categories, the next step before creating your inventory is to identify benchmarks for evaluating the condition of your assets.

As with establishing asset categories, identifying benchmarks is key to ensuring your inventory is uniform, allowing anyone from any department to use it. 

A good benchmarking method classifies the condition of assets into categories ranging from excellent to serious. It also includes prioritization guidance drawn from risk criteria, since asset failure and asset risk may be two different but interconnected considerations—for example, given safety considerations you may want to replace equipment on a playground earlier in its life cycle than you would for equipment in other facilities.

Here’s how benchmarking might help determine the right treatment at the right time for a pavement segment:

  • EXCELLENT CONDITIONRequires only routine maintenance. An aggressive preventive maintenance cycle of sealing, patching, grading, and overlays will extend pavement life and avoid costly reactive measures.
  • GOOD OR FAIR CONDITIONNeeds preventative work in addition to routine maintenance. The pavement segment may exhibit drainage problems or require ADA access modifications.
  • POOR CONDITIONWill require extensive work and significant investment to correct deficiencies. The pavement has deteriorated and requires more invasive, costly treatments.
  • VERY POOR OR SERIOUS CONDITIONNearing end of useful life. Consider replacement alternatives. It will be more economical to reconstruct the segment than to repair or upgrade.

strategic-asset-management-pavement

Case Study: COUNTY OF FREDERICK, MARYLAND

For years, departments in the County of Frederick relied on a combination of spreadsheets, file folders, and personal knowledge to manage their diverse assets, creating a siloed landscape with few connecting points. The problem? Due to a lack of data, departments struggled to justify their needs for asset upgrades and replacements—which meant they often didn’t get the funding they needed during annual budgeting. 

To improve, the County adopted Cartegraph Asset Management. Within the first nine months, County personnel input 96 asset types and 156,000 specific assets, initiating over 22,000 tasks. 

After establishing its inventory, County departments were able to go beyond merely justifying budgets. Departments could now get strategic. Supervisors now use the system to see the bigger picture in realizing actual costs associated with a facility or a park’s events, helping them integrate high-level and long-range goals into their plans, as well as making more informed decisions from one day to the next.

3. Create Your Asset Inventory

Now that you have your asset categories mapped out and your benchmarks created, it’s time to make your inventory.

To create an inventory, you’ll need to enter every asset you manage into your digital asset management system. Start your inventory work at a single facility and log every single asset there in your system, including information on assets that interact with each other.

Here are some tips for creating your inventory:

  • Be thorough, entering key data about the asset like location, replacement value, and descriptive details unique to the asset type. 

  • Do condition assessments as you make your inventory, using your benchmarks to record the condition of the asset as you find it.

  • Enter routine maintenance work related to the asset, allowing you to automate reminders and tasks in your digital system. (If you’re not sure what these will be, you can always go back and do this later.)

  • Collect GIS data showing where the asset is located so you can work with your assets in a map, allowing you to color code them by class or type and access them in real time.

Creating Your Inventory Will Take Time

Creating your inventory will be hard. It could take several months, or even several years. (The inventory hurdle is one of the main reasons we said that not many people are doing true strategic asset management.)

But when you’re done, you and your team are going to reap the benefits. You’ll have an accurate, up-to-date record of all your individual assets and the facilities in which they’re found.

This asset database will be the foundation for all your subsequent asset management work—assessing condition and remaining service life, planning repair or replacement, projecting costs, evaluating processes, and doing future planning.

Pro Tip: Consider hiring a helping hand

The County of Multnomah, OR, was buried under a ten-year backlog on traffic counting data. To catch up, the County hired data capture experts Cyclomedia. The result? In just one year, the County collected all the data it was missing, representing the equivalent of a decade of work if it had been done internally.

5 Key Elements of the Strategic Asset Management Framework

After you create an inventory—or just start to create one—you can begin implementing the strategic asset management framework.

In this context, it’s important not to let perfect be the enemy of good. 

strategic-asset-management-parks

Once you have some amount of data, you can start using it to make strategic decisions. More data will come, and you’ll get more and more strategic, but you can get started right away with improving your operations using the data you have.

So—what do you do with that data?

You start implementing the strategic asset management framework. Here are the five key elements of that framework.

1. Create a Thorough Asset Inventory

This element was covered thoroughly in the previous section, but it’s worth including here since it’s the first essential ingredient in the strategic asset management framework.

Here are some tips for creating your inventory, to be considered along with the three steps highlighted above:

  • Identify and catalog assets. List every physical asset owned by the department, including buildings, infrastructure, vehicles, and equipment.
  • Determine asset location. Record the exact location of each asset.
  • Assess asset condition. Evaluate the current state of each asset, considering age, usage, and maintenance history.
  • Estimate asset value. Calculate the current value of each asset, considering its original cost, depreciation, and replacement value.

2. Tactical Asset Management

After you have the data recorded in your inventory you can start using it to make tactical decisions, including:

  • Streamlining work orders. Develop a system for efficiently managing repair and maintenance requests.
  • Maximizing uptime. Implement strategies to reduce downtime of critical assets, like public utilities or transportation systems.
  • Performance reporting. Establish metrics and reporting systems to monitor the performance and health of assets.

3. Future Planning and Projection

Getting even more strategic, use data to move from daily, tactical decision-making to support long-term planning. 

  • Long-term cost analysis. Project future maintenance and replacement costs over the lifecycle of assets.
  • Staffing and resource planning. Determine the human and financial resources needed for future asset maintenance and operations.
  • Upgrade and replacement planning. Identify assets that require upgrading or replacement and plan accordingly.

4. Sustainable Decision-Making

Your asset data will also help you address sustainability, another key aspect of implementing strategic asset management.

In this context, sustainability refers not only to the environment, but also to getting the most out of your limited resources.

Here are some key sustainability considerations:

  • Cost-benefit analysis. Weigh the immediate costs against long-term benefits and savings for each decision.
  • Community impact assessment. Consider how decisions will affect the local community and its services.
  • Environmental sustainability. Evaluate the environmental impact of asset management decisions.

5. Implementation and Continuous Improvement

Another important element of being truly strategic is that the work is never done.

Rather, you’re always using data to iterate and improve, following a flywheel of data collection→data analysis—>implementation . . . and then back to →data collection to evaluate the success of your implementation.

Here are some guiding activities to help you continue to improve:

  • Policy and procedure development. Create guidelines and procedures for asset management—and revisit them periodically to make sure they’re still relevant.
  • Training and development. Ensure staff are trained in new procedures and technologies.
  • Monitoring and review. Regularly review and update asset management strategies based on performance data and changing community needs.

Transportation Department Example

Implementing the strategic asset management framework in a city’s transportation department:

  • Asset inventory. Catalog all vehicles, traffic signals, and road infrastructure.
  • Tactical management. Implement a system for prioritizing road repairs based on traffic volume and pavement condition.
  • Future planning. Project the costs of expanding public transportation over the next two decades.
  • Sustainable decision-making. Assess the impact of introducing electric buses on both cost and environmental footprint.
  • Implementation and improvement. Train staff on new traffic management software and continuously monitor its effectiveness.
strategic-asset-management-transportation

8 Steps for Developing a Strong Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)

If you’ve read this far, you’ve seen how to create a digital asset inventory, and how to use that inventory to begin getting strategic in your work: Making tactical decisions, doing future planning, and using a sustainable framework to evaluate your options.

But another key part of implementing strategic asset management is the creation of a strategic asset management plan (SAMP).

A strategic asset management plan serves as a guiding document to align an organization’s asset management activities with its overarching strategic objectives. 

Here are eight steps to follow for developing an effective SAMP:

1. Establish Clear, Concise Goals

  • A SAMP should be concise yet comprehensive, avoiding unnecessary complexity.
  • Ensure it is easily understandable to all stakeholders, including non-technical staff.

2. Align with Organizational Objectives

  • Identify organizational goals—clearly outline the organization’s long-term vision and mission.
  • Link to asset management—draw direct connections between these goals and asset management activities.

3. Define Asset Management Goals

  • Establish specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals for asset management.
  • These goals should reflect the organization’s priorities, such as sustainability, cost-efficiency, or service quality.

4. Conduct Strategic Action Planning

  • Develop action plans for each asset management goal.
  • Outline steps, assign responsibilities, and set timelines.

Example: If a goal is to reduce maintenance costs, an action plan might include implementing predictive maintenance technologies.

5. Integrate Risk Management

  • Identify potential risks in asset management and incorporate risk mitigation strategies into the SAMP.
  • Make sure to include asset use in addition to condition and lifecycle data. 

6. Allocate Resources

  • Define the resources (financial, human, technological) needed to achieve the asset management goals.
  • Ensure that the allocation aligns with the organization’s capacity and budget constraints.

7. Engage Stakeholders

  • Involve relevant stakeholders in the development and implementation of your SAMP.
  • Parties to consider engaging include internal teams, external partners, and community representatives where applicable.

8. Continuous Monitoring and Review

  • Establish a system for monitoring progress towards the goals set in the SAMP.
  • Regularly review and update the plan to reflect changing circumstances or new insights.

strategic-asset-management-public-works

Public Works Department Example

Creating a strategic asset management plan for a city’s public works department:

  • Objective. Improve the efficiency and sustainability of city infrastructure.
  • Link to organizational goals. Align with the city’s vision for sustainable and resilient urban development.
  • Asset management goal. Reduce energy consumption in public buildings by 20% within five years.
  • Action plan. Implement energy-efficient technologies, conduct regular audits, and train staff on sustainable practices.
  • Risk management. Identify potential challenges, like budget constraints or technological limitations and plan accordingly.
  • Resource allocation. Budget for energy-efficient upgrades and staff training.
  • Stakeholder engagement. Work with local energy experts and engage community members in sustainability initiatives.
  • Monitoring and review. Track energy usage in public buildings and adjust strategies as needed. 

Considerations for Strategic Asset Management Software

Software is crucial to implementing strategic decision-making in asset management. Without the right software, you simply can’t do SAM.

In the opening of this article, we covered the difference between reactive and strategic approaches to asset management.

If you recall, a key differentiator between the two was that reactive asset management used manual tools—whiteboards, spreadsheets, and written notes—while a strategic approach relied on software and new digital hardware, like iPads.

strategic-asset-management-cartegraph

Cartegraph Asset Management supports strategic prioritization for asset managers

In considering software to drive strategic decision-making, here are some things to look for:

  • Does it support data-driven decision-making?
  • Does it allow for scenario modeling to support future planning?
  • Does it have robust reporting capabilities?
  • Does it provide graphical representations of data, making it easier to understand and communicate asset information?
  • Does it allow you to align with the standards that apply to your work, including inspection and other relevant standards?
  • Does it have integrations with ArcGIS or other platforms important to your work?

Once you find the right software, here are some steps to follow for a successful implementation:

Step 1. Planning Phase

  • Needs assessment. Evaluate the specific needs and challenges of the department.
  • Software selection. Choose software that best fits the department’s requirements and budget.
  • Strategy development. Develop a clear implementation strategy, including timelines and goals.

Step 2. Onboarding Phase

  • Training. Conduct comprehensive training sessions for staff to familiarize them with the software.
  • Data migration. Migrate existing asset data into the new system, ensuring accuracy and completeness.
  • Integration. Ensure the software integrates smoothly with existing systems and workflows.

Step 3. Going Live

  • Testing. Conduct thorough testing to identify and rectify any issues.
  • Deployment. Implement the software across the department.
  • Support. Ensure ongoing technical support is available for troubleshooting and queries.

Common Pitfalls and Challenges

Here are some common challenges those in local government face when implementing a new asset management system:

  • Data inconsistencies. Inaccuracies in existing data can lead to issues during migration.
  • Resistance to change. Staff may be resistant to new systems, highlighting the need for effective change management.
  • Integration difficulties. Challenges in integrating the new software with existing systems.
  • Budget overruns. Unexpected costs can arise, necessitating careful financial planning.
  • Technical issues. Software glitches or malfunctions can occur, requiring robust technical support.

Pro Tip: On-site support can be crucial for a successful implementation. 

Expert guidance is crucial throughout these phases, and on-site services can expedite the process, helping to avoid common pitfalls. 

OpenGov’s Professional Services team helps customers successfully implement software, ensuring you’re set up to get the most out of your asset management system. Also, our Customer Service team has won awards for the quality of its service, including the Gold Award for Contact Center of the Year in Technology Industries from the Stevie Awards.

Ready to start your strategic asset management journey?

See how Cartegraph Asset Management can help.