Strategic Asset Management Plans (SAMPs) often fail in the development phase. In some cases, the plan reaches no meaningful conclusion. In other cases, the failure in development is masked until the more costly implementation phase. Here are ten ways SAMPs fail in development and what to do about it.
A US Gulf Coast chemical company had multiple plants at the same site. Plant 1 funded the creation of a SAMP; however, other plants did not want to participate. Midway through the plan development, it was obvious that shared infrastructure would be a major element. The plan stalled. The effort collapsed six months later due to lack of funding.
A moderate-sized US city's water and sewer department embarks on a SAMP development project. The need for other city departments, such as IT, GIS, and Parks & Recreation, is realized at the chartering meeting. The city manager and utility director decide to let other departments participate in an advisory capacity. There is a changeover in the city manager position. The new manager wants holistic participation across all departments. The plan is completed, but significantly misses its original budget and its schedule by a year.
Planning versus Implementation
We normally think about SAMPs failing in the implementation phase because the plan was poor or the lack of follow-through. However, SAMPs fail under their own weight in development. Even worse, the plans often fail in development, but the shortcomings are masked by completing the paperwork.
Top Reasons Strategic Asset Management Plans Fail
10. Lack of Plan Funding
Lack of funding is more common in the implementation phase. However, lack of funding in the development phase is a big reason for shortcuts that lead to failure.
9. A Cookie-Cutter Template Approach Is Used
Sometimes related to lack of funding and sometimes to lazy consultants, templated approaches are a 50-50 prospect, at best.
8. Staff Transitions and Turnover
SAMPs take 6 to 12 months to complete. Typically, 6 to 8 decision makers and up to two dozen staff are involved. Turnover and role changes must be incorporated.
7. Death by Committee
Committee work is normally part of the SAMP process. Where used, committees must have strict deadlines and deliverables.
6. The Right People Are Not Involved in Development
Plans involve planners. Plans also should incorporate the input of front-line staff, who are most close to the action.
5. Poor Gap Analysis
Poor gap analysis is less about the questions and format and more about how the gap analysis is administered and analyzed. Gap analyses are qualitative and subjective. The applicability of results is a function of survey design, analysis, and administration.
4. Inadequate Data Analysis
Planners have varying degrees of quantitative data analysis skills. Implementable strategic asset management plans require both qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques.
3. Poor Facilitation and Decision-Making Processes
Facilitation is a structured session(s) in which the meeting leader (the facilitator) guides the participants through a series of predefined steps to arrive at a result that is created, understood, and accepted by all participants. Not all asset managers are great facilitators.
2. Scope and Detail of SAMP not aligned with Organizational Context
Asset management experts and consultants often lose the perspective that the plan must be relevant to front-line staff and the organization as a whole. The SAMP must add meaningful value.
1. Lack of Executive Support
Lack of executive support is more common in the implementation phase. However, it is also common when executives are pressured to "do something" for compliance or accountability in the planning phase.
So, what do we do about the ten ways Strategic Asset Management Plans fail in development? First, begin with these ten items in the project risk register and discuss them on day one. Second, monitor these risks and comprehensively review them when the plan is finished. And third, get some facilitation training.
Register now for this free webinar on how to become more effective at "Developing and Facilitating Strategic Asset Management Plans." (sponsored by Communicating with FINESSE).
JD Solomon Inc. provides solutions for facilitation, asset management, and program development at the nexus of facilities, infrastructure, and the environment.