Asset Management – Is it really new thinking or did we forget?

By November 9, 2017 No Comments

Asset Management – Is it really new thinking or did we forget?

For most of us, the concept of ‘Asset Management’ as applied to buildings and infrastructure is assumed to be a relatively new term.  Innovative policies like “Total Asset Management” and “Strategic Asset Management” were developed in the 1980’s to handle a great influx of new assets and to address the growing liability of owning and maintaining existing assets.

The new ‘asset management’ thinking drove a wide range of new methodologies.

  • Services Planning was designed to address underlying needs, to define the objectives, the very reasons for having an asset in the first place.
  • A Gap Analysis was used to identify where services needed assets.
  • Non-Asset Solutions was invented to ask the question: Can a service be provided without an asset?
  • Capital Asset Planning was designed to address the scope and extent of the new assets.
  • Maintenance Planning then focused on the existing assets and the liability of ongoing ownership.
  • The ‘Condition Assessment’ was developed to help define the extent of the maintenance liability. And finally;
  • Asset Disposal Planning for those assets that did not manage to get a place in the other categories.

The new policies where developed, presented, printed and widely circulated as new thinking and an enlightened and modern approach to dealing with changing community needs, expectations and of course technology.  In 2017, some 30 years on the new asset management policies are of course seen as great improvements and are considerably more in-depth. However, the following paragraph was handed to me in the 1980’s that to this day is a better explanation as it is clear, simple and effective.  This policy stated the following:

“For the animals, hedges, trees, buildings and other things of the Estate hath each a natural allotment of days, just as we too have an allotment of days.  Good management of the Estate, in accordance with the order of things rests, therefore, in thy possessing a knowledge of the parts so that each may be upheld for the duration of its allotted time and then left to pass.  For the wholeness of an Estate is not ours alone but also of they who follow and we shall be remembered not for wonton and untimely outlaying but for the exercise of good husbandry”

The really interesting thing about the above quote was who and when it was written.  The author was a Sir Hugh Platt and the above was included in his book titled – The Jewell House of Art which offered up for the reader among other things new inventions and practices.   It was published in England in 1594.  So, in 423 years we have added great volumes of paper, written tens of thousands of words, created endless process and procedures, employed vast teams of experts to arrive at a policy which used 102 words in 1594 to explain it all.   While history is a great teacher it would appear we remain very poor students.