Framework for applying agile practices in asset management?

The term agile is quite buzzy and just as stretchy. We’ll begin exploring it by looking at the scattered pieces of “broken” enterprise asset management practices. We will investigate the reasons for the generation of misinformation and operational delays, draining resource for unanticipated repairs and replacement parts, and so on.

We will then fill in the gaps using ISO asset management standards (ISO 55000, ISO 55001, ISO 55002), data – historical, real-time and predictive, and some technologies and digital tools.

Finally, we will present a 10-step framework so you can unlock “agility-on-demand” with digital twin management. Continue reading to learn how you can adopt an agile approach in enterprise asset management.

Fractured Asset Management: The demand for alignment and coordination

Fractured Asset Management: The demand for alignment and coordination

In most organizations, asset management looks like glass shattered into dozens of pieces. For example, in financial services, digital transformation can empower employees and spur innovation. Only 36% of first-line workers have the technology tools they need (Forbes Insights). On the other hand, manufacturers must maximize efficiency and empower their people​. In the industry, 64% of first-line workers lack the technology tools they need many of them rely on slow and error-prone manual processes (Forbes Insights).

One of them is the scattered data that disjointed sources of information create. There is no organization of the available knowledge in the business and employees waste hours searching for the necessary information.

Another piece of broken glass is the isolation between participants along the value chain. When a group of people is engaged with a certain task it is a must for the individuals to inform the rest of the group about their progress. Yet this type of traceability is often found missing in asset management practices.

This confusion is compounded by untimely communication. The later can be caused by the lack of habit, overload from many communication channels or vice versa – mixing the information in a single channel. In large corporations, the situation is challenging to control because of the large number of people, locations and assets. All of them are grouped and spread over a large area, where the scale of the problem becomes palpable. For small and medium-sized enterprises, the difficulty arises from the fact that one person can be responsible for several things at once. As a result, there are often gaps in shared information about project status and progress.

Another shattered piece resembles the rupture in the processes. Losing the connection between the individual activities of a process undermines the connectivity in the enterprise. As a result, business continuity suffers, the quality of the final product is reduced, and operating costs exceed the norm.

Poor maintenance of the state and integrity of the infrastructure, equipment, inventory can be seen as another broken piece of glass and also as the cause of the breaking of the glass itself.

Fill-in the gaps: Cultivating agility towards enterprise reliability

Fill-in the gaps: Cultivating agility towards enterprise reliability

You can make the transition to reliable processes and systems in your enterprise by cultivating agility. It comes, first of all, with the timely sharing of information. With such predictability, the company can prepare precise maintenance and repair schedules and furthermore prioritize asset management activities for the short- and long-term.

Agility comes with the ability to take into account the opinions and views of all stakeholders and key positions in the organization. This requires time to consider the different roles and scale to cover all opinions.

Agility comes with:

  1. centralized management of information and accumulated knowledge in business;
  2. coordinated communication throughout the enterprise.

Every employee must be able to have immediate access to the information they need, respective position and permits. Cross-department and cross-team sharing are also necessary for overall internal alignment and the development of large-scale projects.

Flexibility comes with advance visualization and tracking of enterprise processes. At the beginning of the implementation of the Asset Insider process at a client, we use flow charts and diagrams to present the existing processes in their enterprise and discover opportunities for their optimization. Thus, we significantly facilitate asset management practices from the point of view of invested resources and time-to-value.

Flexibility comes with having the right set of tools and techniques and deploying it across workflows. A key point is the discovery of opportunities to automate repetitive (manual) processes; finding a way to achieve this effect with one tool for several processes. For example, Asset Insider has capabilities to establish 360-degree control over every stage of the asset life cycle – from demand to disposal. Learn more here.

Next, we will examine where and how organization can bring internal alignment.

How organizations can achieve internal alignment?

How organizations can achieve internal alignment?

What is the internal alignment of organizations based on? From an asset management perspective, we will focus on 5 interrelationships.

First, slow-loop and fast-loop of the planning. The key here is to create a strong link between short-term and long-term goals and activities. We can consider this in the context of:

  • The duration of an activity, i.e. how long it takes from start to finish.
  • When are the results of the activity expected? Some bring tangible changes almost immediately after their implementation, e.g., machine repair. For others, it takes time to accumulate added value.
  • We can also talk about short-/long-term forecasting and the launch of a specific project.

The goal of the business is to distribute its resources in such a way that it does not harm any of the two loops.

Next, we need to prioritize data before process modelling. They will guide these efforts and reveal the areas to focus on for process improvement. Focus before tactics and schedules. Objectives are part of the plan and the strategy for asset management, however, they must always precede any tactics, because without focus the efforts and resources invested would hardly lead to the desired result.

We can also look at the alignment at team-to-team, person-to-process, person-to-machine, machine-to-process, machine-to-machine, process-to-process, person-to-asset, machine-to-asset. Basic principles here are those described in the previous two sections, related to timely and accurate communication, the allocation of channels for this purpose and the structuring and storage of organizational knowledge. The specificity comes from who is exchanging information with whom.

In the case when the communication is between teams, it is important to exchange specific information on points that affect both parties. Excess information and too little information equally harm the result of the overall work.

With person-to-process alignment, awareness of the role and coordination of the activities of individual employees is important.

As for machine-to-process and machine-to-machine connections, you must first determine what type of communication you want to establish – one-way or two-way. Should the machine only collect, process and present the data, or is it tasked and return a response (e.g., in the form of a task)?

Think about and describe the specifics of the other types of alignment on your own. Share your thoughts in a comment at the end of the article.

The role of asset data: historical, real-time, and future insights

The role of asset data: historical, real-time, and future insights

When you connect the three types of data—historical records, real-time data, and future forecasts—you build a 360-degree view of the health of your portfolio of assets and the effectiveness of the way you manage them.

Historical data is collected data about past events and circumstances pertaining to a particular subject. Why would an enterprise dedicate storage for this type of data? Here are two basic reasons:

First, it enables companies to understand the past of their assets. For technicians and maintenance managers this means being able to faster diagnose reasons for downtime and therefore foresee future risk.

Then, historical data fuels forecasting which is a prerequisite for effective asset maintenance.

When it comes to real-time data, we are concerned with the functioning of connected devices. They communicate automatically and transmit information to the required destination automatically. This way, the responsible team(s) can immediately act upon maintenance and repair requests, plan their activities in time and mitigate the risk of large-scale downtime. Further, the mail is sent to a field engineer to check the machine and repair it. Hence, real-time data increases over asset reliability and availability.

We can say that future analysis is a by-product of historical and real-time data. It leverages them to recognize patterns and anomalies in key asset parameters and present them in a long-term plan.

In the first of the series of workshops – Agile Asset Management: Navigating the disruption – we discuss the topic of the role of information in building agile practices and how we can use it for their improvement.

Why do companies need a standard to help them achieve alignment?

The ISO 5500X suite of standards exists to provide a framework for aligning the organizational objectives and bringing together the different stakeholders from senior management to field technicians.

The role of the individual components of the family of standards is:

  • ISO 55000 – Defines overview, concepts, and terminology in asset management
  • ISO 55001 – Defines the requirements for an asset management system
  • ISO 55002- Guides the interpretation and implementation of such a management system
  • ISO 55010 – Guidance on the alignment of financial and non-financial asset management functions
  • ISO 55011 – Guides developing government asset management policies (UNDER DEVELOPMENT)

The standards also support consistency in decision-making. They guide the process to achieve balance in resource investments and the planning of asset-impacting activities. Last but not least, the ISO family aims to put the focus on balancing the short- and long-term outlook for asset management and business planning cycles.

This is the main role of the ISO 5500X suite in terms of agile practices – to connect the short- and long-term planning loops. Often treated as an outdated tool, this type of resource can help overcome the challenge of training specialized asset management teams.

Unlocking “agility-on-demand” with digital twin management

Unlocking “agility-on-demand” with digital twin management

The journey towards Digital Twin Management begins with laying the foundations of the Agile approach in Asset Management. It happens through integrating the technical and operational components of the System to enable remote operations. Finally, the conceptualization of the approach and the new system architecture should find their place in day-to-day operations.

We have explored the transition from conventional practices to Digital Twin Management and summarized it in a 10-step roadmap:

Roadmap to digital twin management: Turn the notion for enterprise agility with assets

First, an organization should begin with (re)defining their long-term Asset Management Strategy. At this stage, it should evaluate the applicability of standards (ISO-issued, industrial, technological, regional, etc.). The by-product of the first stage is a structured business case with desired outcomes and Objective Key Results (OKRs).

Then, the organization should draft an agile Asset Management Manifesto. Take ours for an example:

We are uncovering better ways of managing assets by applying them ourselves and enabling others to do the same. Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working assets over comprehensive documentation
  • Stakeholders collaboration over offline communication and reporting
  • Responding to change over following a plan
  • That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more

To become and remain agile a company will move on to build and train agile teams. It will align the short- & mid-term agility with the long-term strategy. All through this the business should keep focused on the values and principles in its’ agile manifesto.

For a stable framework the data should be reliable and prepared for utilization. From a technical viewpoint, the company should centralize data streams and build end-to-end data management processes.

The fifth step sounds like this: “Integrate, interface, connect.., integrate!”. Ultimate integration leads to ultimate efficiency. Inside the organization things that are subject to integration are:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Assets

Furthermore, you should consider the technology stack and corelate it with predefined use cases for the Digital Twins. The cases are based on:

  • What the business needs?
  • What the technology can create?
  • What’s the impact on the PnL?

Step 8. and step 9. go together. The first implies that the asset management transformation into digital twin management is a journey. The latter supports the approach that chooses to “start small and expand” over relying on the “Big Bang” approach.

The final step is very simple. Act.

“I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.“

– Leonardo Da Vinci

Towards a data-centric agile asset management and digital twin management

Towards a data-centric agile asset management and digital twin management

We will conclude by reiterating our manifesto for Agile Asset Management:

We are uncovering better ways of managing assets by applying them ourselves and enabling others to. Through this approach we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working assets over comprehensive documentation
  • Stakeholders’ collaboration over offline communication and reporting
  • Responding to change over following a static plan
  • That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more

First of all, you establish the need to restore alignment and coordination in the company. Subsequent efforts will be focused on several pillars:

  • Slow-loop & fast-loop planning
  • Data and process modelling
  • Plans, objectives, and strategies
  • Person-to-person, person-to-process, person-to-machine, machine-to-process, process-to-process alignment
  • Results analysis and optimization opportunities

At the end of this article, we put the described agile principles into a 10-step framework for creating and implementing Digital Twin Management.

You will find a full walkthrough and material on the topic in the recording of the Grand Finale of the Reimagine Asset Management event. Register here.