When we start an implementation project to install, configure and go live with one or more AgileAssets software modules, we start out with a large number of business processes that we need to consider and set up. How do we even know where to start?
What we do is break down the main business processes in the software into the following basic functional areas:
- OS – Organizational Structure
- LR – Linear Referencing processes
- RM – Resource Management
- AI – Asset Inventory
- AP – Asset Performance
- PL – Planning Processes
- OP – Operations Management
- Security and Authentication
- System Administration and Configuration
This grouping of processes into these functional areas allows us to also group various part and pieces of the implementation ranging from Reconciliation Sessions to Testing. Let’s explore a little about what each functional area entails.
OS – Organizational Structure
This area is concerned with the Administrative Units in the system. These Admin Units are set up in a hierarchy and create the essential groupings that allow the system to be scalable across a large organization such as a state department of transport (DOT). Each Admin Unit is typically a grouping of people, maybe a location such as a maintenance yard, but is most commonly a cost center to against which costs or transactions are reported. More importantly than being a cost center, however, we can think of an admin unit being an ‘owner’. This concept can be applied across many other areas and as such an asset can belong to a particular admin unit, or a work order can belong to an admin unit. In fact, multiple fields can relate back to admin units where for instance a piece of equipment may be owned by one admin unit, but assigned to another. The basic processes that need to be defined in the OS functional area are the initial configuration of the organizational structure, and then the ongoing maintenance of the structure with handling of additions, merges etc.
LR – Linear Referencing
For linear assets and events such as work orders, the linear referencing system (LRS) is the backbone for locations on the road system. Any event that needs to be located on the road system can be located through the LRS by typically the route and start and end milepoints (more generally called ‘measures’). The initial process of configuring the LRS in the system often needs to be accomplished early in an implementation so that other items such as assets can be brought in and be located on the LRS. The processes for the ongoing maintenance of the LRS to be able to add, extend, re-align, re-measure and remove routes, however, is very important. As the LRS is updated, all event locations within the system automatically have their route and milepoint references updated, so only by continuously updating the LRS can a fully accurate set of locations be maintained in the asset management system.
RM- Resource Management
We typically consider labor, equipment and materials as the basic resources needed to perform ongoing maintenance and repair work on the assets being managed in the asset management system. The full processes for keeping this master data current and correct need to be defined in detail.
Labor – Labor resources are typically the employees that perform the maintenance and repair work. The list of employees is therefore used in various other processes so the process of keeping the list of available labor up to date is important.
Equipment – Equipment resources are the list of equipment such as trucks, backhoes, etc. that is used to accomplish maintenance and repair work on assets. Pieces of equipment are themselves considered assets in the system and other resources may be used to maintain and repair them too! When the fleet management module is being implemented, then equipment are considered to be assets and the processes are broken down further into the functional areas listed here. When equipment is just being used as a resource for the maintenance and repair of other assets, then the processes to maintain the list of equipment are simpler and so considered under the RM functional area.
Materials – Materials are also often called ‘inventory’ and are the parts and materials used when maintaining and repair assets. As such, materials can range from air filters to pipe to stockpiles of aggregate out on the road. Materials processes are often handled in part by specialized parts of the financial system (or enterprise resource planning (ERP) system) and so the interaction of the asset management system with the financial system can become fairly complex. The most fundamental (and classic) high-level process for materials is often called the requisition to check (‘req to check’) process and so it can be seen that a large part of this process is concerned with financial aspects of material transactions. More basic to the management of materials, however, is the maintenance of the stocks and stock levels of the various stock locations (stock bins and stockpiles). These processes typically involve materials ordering, receival, transfer, issues on to work orders, release, and correction (reconciling).
AI – Asset Inventory
This group of processes involves the maintenance of the basic asset master data. Although this is not always the case, the records of what assets are owned and or being maintained in the asset management system typically are maintained exclusively in the asset management system. The processes concerning ongoing addition of new assets, and the retirement and update of existing assets are those that are considered under this functional area. These may involve collection by automated data collection, manual inventorying using a mobile device, entry from paper forms, etc. Inventory master records generally contain some indication of location, most often on the linear referencing system. Asset attributes also typically include a classification and status.
AP – Asset Performance
Processes in this category involve all measurements of the condition of the asset. This includes any inspections which can, like for asset inventory, range from being automated condition surveys performed by a data collection vendor, to entries based on paper forms. Included in this functional area are any calculations of condition and performance indices that may be required to assess current state of repair or level of service for the asset type. If longer-term records are kept, the historical performance trends can also be analyzed.
PL – Planning
The processes involved in planning – how are future work plans created and kept, how are they maintained, and whether they are shared with any external systems – are all considered under this functional area. In some cases, processes may be as simple as importing a spreadsheet, in other cases, the planning process may be very complex and involve performance models, decision trees and various levels of approval and revision. It is under this functional area that one of the core AgileAssets features, optimization analysis, falls.
OP – Operations
This functional area encompasses all processes relating to the actual activity of repairing and maintaining the assets. This would include creating, updating and completion of all projects, work requests, work orders, time entry, resources usage recording and work accomplishment recording. These processes can include mobile data entry and typically involve processes for approval. This functional area also often includes an interface to send time entry information out to the financial system.
SEC – Security and Authentication
These processes involve how usernames and access are maintained in the system. All the security profiles or roles need to be defined and maintained for each module. In addition, all the processes need to be defined for adding new users to the system as well as updating users’ roles and access as they are promoted, move within the organization and retire.
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Although different modules of AgileAssets obviously include a very diverse set of processes, these functional areas serve to break down these processes into a very general set that can be applied broadly to all asset management. As a result, whether we are implementing a pavement management module, a maintenance management module, a fleet management module or a facilities management module, this basic functional area structure serves to organize and help manage the implementation process. In addition to helping to organize implementations, these functional areas also pervade the software (for instance it is often reflected in the menu structure), and the training material (for instance the AgileAssets Learning Center courses are organized using these functional areas). Knowing the AgileAssets functional areas will help you develop a good foundational knowledge of the AgileAssets suite and help you gain a holistic view of many of the high-level processes accommodated throughout the AgileAssets suite of products.