EVALUATING ASSET MANAGEMENT MATURITY IN THE NETHERLANDS: A COMPACT BENCHMARK OF EIGHT DIFFERENT ASSET MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATIONS

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1 EVALUATING ASSET MANAGEMENT MATURITY IN THE NETHERLANDS: A COMPACT BENCHMARK OF EIGHT DIFFERENT ASSET MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATIONS Telli van der Lei¹, Andreas Ligtvoet 1, Leentje Volker¹, & Paulien Herder¹ ¹ Section of Energy and Industry, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, Delft University of Technology, Jaffalaan 5, Delft, the Netherlands We investigated how asset managers in the Netherlands deal with long-term investment issues. For this purpose we interviewed asset managers in eight organizations that control physical infrastructures (electrical networks, roads, gas and water/sewage pipelines, and waterways), specifically focusing on strategy, tools, environment and recourses to achieve their asset management goals. We find that asset management is still very much focused on preserving existing properties and technical-oriented risk management. Wider systemic risks and new opportunities (options thinking) are rarely addressed. A minimal requirement for successful asset management is a database with objectrelated data that is continuously updated. Keywords: Maturity model, benchmarking, standardization, asset management 1. INTRODUCTION In the Netherlands different asset management organizations are professionalizing their asset management practices. The primary objective of these companies is the design, operation and maintenance of physical networks, such as electrical networks, roads, gas and water/sewage pipelines, and waterways. One of the aims is to cut costs and these companies have invested heavily in the professionalization of their asset management processes (e.g. by introducing a standard for asset management). In this age of tightening budgets, the benefits of well-defined standardized processes could be substantial. In this paper we describe a study commissioned by the Dutch road authority to investigate the state of the asset management processes of different asset intensive organizations in the Netherlands. The objective of the road authority was to learn from other asset intensive organizations. To assist in the assessment of organizational processes maturity models can be used. A well-known maturity model is the capability maturity model (CMM), developed by the Carnegie Mellon University [1]. The CMM model is increasingly becoming a standard for process evaluation and assessment [2, 3]. It was originally developed to assess software development projects. Gradually it has been extended to include a broad array of processes (e.g. people-related P-CMM [4], P-CMM 2.0 [5], systems engineering-related SE-CMM [6], software acquisition-related SA-CMM [7], organizational project management OPM3, and an integrated model (CMMI) that combines different disciplines: systems engineering, software engineering, integrated product and process development, and supplier sourcing [8]. A more elaborate overview is provided in Volker et al. [9]. Recently, maturity models have been gaining attention and some comparisons of different types of maturity models for different organizations have been made [e.g. 9, 10, 11]. Volker et al [9] review different maturity models from an infrastructure systems perspective. Khoshgoftar and Osman [10] conclude in their review that OPM3 is the better maturity model for improving organizational performance. However, Judgev and Thomas [11] note that the benefits of maturity models should not be overestimated and discuss some of the strengths and weaknesses of maturity models. They conclude that maturity models are useful but provide temporary competitive advantage to the firms using them. The use of maturity models provides a number of advantages. First of all, maturity models provide a codification of good practices. That is, the maturity levels are an ideal standard that organizations can strive for. A second benefit of maturity models is that they are a useful discussion tool regarding the processes evaluated. Most often the presentation of the model provides a common language and sparks discussion on where an organization stands. Finally maturity models can be used to benchmark (parts of) organizations [e.g. 12, 13, 14] as maturity models are most often not firm specific and thus allow for benchmarking of organizations. In this paper we present a maturity model that we developed for the assessment of eight large asset intensive companies in the Netherlands. The tool was set up to be able to compare the asset management processes of different infrastructure companies. 2. APPROACH 1

2 We interviewed asset managers of eight different organizations in the Netherlands. The interviewed organizations are all large Dutch companies that are responsible for the asset management of predominantly public infrastructures. The companies were chosen in such a way that a broad variety of different infrastructures was included. The interviewed companies consisted of: 1 and 2) the two largest energy supply companies of the Netherlands responsible for large parts of the Dutch gas and electricity distribution network; 3) The Dutch rail company responsible for the Dutch rail infrastructure; 4) the largest gas producer in the Netherlands; 5 and 6) two companies responsible for part of the Dutch water systems, one of them being a large integrated company responsible for sewage systems, drinking water systems and water systems; and finally 7 and 8) two provinces responsible for the asset management of for example provincial roads and water works. The goal of the interviews was to assess the organizations on the maturity of their asset management processes. In order to assess the different organizations an interview protocol was made (see Appendix I), which given the allotted time of one interview per organization needed to be comprehensive yet compact. The questions of the interview protocol were defined in cooperation with experts from the Dutch road authority. The road authority experts delivered a variety of questions regarding the management of assets. These questions were categorized into four categories: strategy, tools, environment, and means. We thus created a compact capability model for these categories (see Table 1). The table shows the different maturity levels ranging from initial to optimized. Table 1 Asset Management Compact Capability Maturity Model Dimensions Strategy Tools Environment Resources Levels Initial Repeatable Defined Managed Optimizing Asset management strategy and goals do not exist or are not accepted. Senior management has no clear plan or designated responsible. At the department level there are procedures to set asset management policies and goals. Processes and responsibilities between the departments are set. Policy and strategy are fully supported by management, asset management is fully integrated. Tools are applied sporadically, no communication of uncertainties. A small set of tools is regularly used, uncertainties are sporadically monitored. At the departmental level, a range of standard tools is used. company wide use of standardized methods and techniques; uncertainties are broadly shared / discussed. Tools are continuously improved and updated and communicated, uncertainties are shared with partners. Answers are sought internally / ad hoc with the environment. Views of third parties are occasionally taken into account. There is a standard at the departmental level, how to deal with external parties. Clear protocols for dealing with external parties on an organizational level. Ongoing coordination with policy makers, market parties, partners. No separate funding for replacement. The funds for replacement are regularly deployed. There is a method for allocation of funds for replacement. The allocation method to allocate funds for replacement is set organization-wide. The resource allocation method has a futureoriented flexibility. 3. RESULTS The levels of maturity were estimated by the interviewed asset managers from the different companies. Due to agreements made with the interviewees, we cannot disclose which company scored what level of maturity. Overall, we found that the interviewed asset managers focus more on the day to day operations and have less focus on the long term strategy, confirming some of the results from an earlier study regarding the state of asset management in the Netherlands [15]. Plans for new long term investments are usually made by other departments. The organizations that do focus on long term issues focus more on technical and quantitative uncertainties. 2

3 3.1 Strategy We see strategy as the highest level of decision-making in a company that translates long term goals into organizational plans. According to the model, the first level in implementing asset management is acknowledging that asset management can contribute to better management of the life cycle of assets. Although, it is still regarded by management as a separate topic and is infrequently put on the agenda. At the highest maturity level, organizations have fully integrated assessment management in their plans. In the latter organizations, a reliable list of assets exists as a set of fixed rules on inspection and maintenance, spending and manpower. These organizations can provide in much of their asset management information needs. Some companies stress the importance of good interweaving of strategic and operational staff. At one of the interviewed grid operators (organization B in Figure 1) there is even a separate department strategy realization that translates the broad strategic lines into concrete organizational plans. Decisions are prepared on a number of key criteria (safety, reliability, security of supply, quality, price, risk, failure probability, lifetime) in the different interviewed organizations replacement issues are put on the agenda. 3.2 Tools We define tools as those processes and methods that help asset managers assess asset information. The starting point is an overview of the various assets that the managers control. This seems rather obvious, but in practice companies have decentralized, incomplete knowledge of the status of their assets. In our interviews, several organizations conveyed to have set up an asset database with data on lifetime (plus uncertainty), maintenance planning, and inspection planning. For the gas grid, the status of certain critical items is monitored continuously. The electricity grid operators use databases with linear and non-linear risk registers. One of the provinces we interviewed divides the assets in classes in which public interest and safety are acknowledged. Most organizations do not have a specified way to deal with uncertainties (which is at the high end of the asset management process maturity). Only one organization said they make and use (broad, societal) scenario s to handle uncertainty. Measures that ensure flexibility and robustness on the assets are mentioned by two companies. E.g. the water company has already laid pipes under certain roads in preparation for further urban expansion. One of the grid operators mentioned they had added fiberglass pipes to a replacement project in order to be able to facilitate the possible (future) remote operation of switches for the 20 kv grid. 3.3 Environment An organization does not operate in a vacuum: it is dependent upon suppliers, contractors, clients, policy makers, etc. Their infrastructures overlap and/or interact with those of other organizations and citizens are mostly impacted by repairs and replacement. For example, maintenance on bridges (maintained by water authorities or provinces) has an impact on traffic flows (road authority or municipality), and restricts access for citizens and (transport) companies. A low level of maturity with regard to the environment means that the organization does not actively engage with external stakeholders and parties. A high level implies an active, ongoing coordination that acknowledges the goals and perspectives of the parties involved. Most of the interviewed organizations work together with the surrounding citizens, municipalities, companies and other organizations. For the provinces (F and G in Figure 1) this level scores relatively high compared to the others. This deviation can be explained by the role of the organization as deliberation is considered a part of good governance. 3.4 Resources Resources refer to financial and human resources. A low level means that budget and people are assigned to projects as problems arise, in an unplanned and ad-hoc fashion. In the interviewed organizations problems are traditionally solved in this way, budgets and people are freed for those projects that are most urgent. However, in recent years this situation has changed somewhat as managers have become aware that there are problems (e.g. large replacement need of old infrastructure, possible adaption to climate change) that require considerable budgets and workforce. Still, no separate reservations are made for long term replacement and their budgets do not distinguish between construction, maintenance, and replacement. As the interest in asset management increases, some organizations have created training programs that provide the necessary competences to the work force, e.g. organization B and H. 3

4 Figure 1 Resulting levels of asset management maturity found in eight different asset intensive organizations in the Netherlands. For each of the four dimensions, the bar indicates what level is achieved (1 = initial, 5 = optimizing). The dark color indicates certainty about the achieved level, whereas the lighter color indicates that there is ambiguity or room for discussion. 4. DISCUSSION The results of the compact capability model analysis provide an overview of the maturity of asset management within the different organizations. Most companies claim to be at a standard to managed level of maturity and all indicate that they are working to improve their asset management processes. It is worth noting that the companies that have adopted the PAS55 standard have the highest rankings (Company A and B in Figure 1). The adoption of the PAS55 could be a means to improve the asset management processes of the companies that have not adapted this standard. On the other hand, the PAS55 is a broad standard and early adoption should be considered well, as organizational changes are required [16]. In the Netherlands, the PAS55 has for example been adapted to an industry standard in the Netherlands making it more specific for the energy industry. In general we note that companies that have an updated database of objects are performing well. We conclude that in order to be able to improve asset management processes a database of all managed objects is essential. There are some limitations to the study. First, given the limited time allotted per organization, a choice had to be made for questions at a high level of abstraction. This was needed as the matrix had to be applicable for a wide range of organizations. On the one hand, the questions allowed for some differences in interpretation or focus in the answers on the part of the interviewees. Second, as only one or two key representatives were interviewed in one interview per organization, one can question whether the answers are shared throughout the organization. In the selection of the interviewees, however, we did target the asset manager or maintenance manager level. Third, one can question the different categories that were developed (the columns in the matrix). The columns were developed together with the experts of the road authority. Their questions were specific for long term investment issues and may not be suitable for short term asset management (i.e. life cycles < 10 years). 5. FUTURE RESEARCH Developed as a quick scan, the Compact Maturity Model provides a first overview of the state of asset management in the Netherlands from a maturity perspective. It makes organizations comparable on a high level, but note the interviews were to a large degree dependent on one to two informers per organization. When applied more often we believe the model may be a good method for identifying asset management trends in different companies. More interviews within the organizations would be useful to improve certainty about the maturity levels in the matrix. However this would require significantly more time, more interviews per organization and longer engagement with interviewees, possibly over a period of several weeks or months. The approach could also be refined by adding more questions for the different categories or to evaluate the number of categories. We are for example developing the matrix into a tool for the comparison of different departments within an organization. For the Dutch road authority we have done this and will do the same for the Port of Rotterdam. 4

5 6. REFERENCES 1. Paulk, M C, Curtis, B, Chrissis, M B, and Weber, C V (1993) Capability Maturity Model for Software, Version 1.1 (CMU/SEI-93-TR-24, ADA263403). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. 2. Paulk, M C (1993) Comparing ISO 9001 and the Capability Maturity Model for Software. Software Quality Journal, 2(4): p Tingey, M O (1996) Comparing ISO 9000, Malcolm Balbridge, and the SEI CMM for Software: A Reference and Selection Guide. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall. 4. Curtis, B, Hefley, W E, and Miller, S (1995) Overview of the People Capability Maturity Model (Maturity Model CMU/SEI-95-MM-01). Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. 5. Magdaleno, A M, De Araujo, R M, and Da Silva Borges, M R (2009) A maturity model to promote collaboration in business processes. International Journal of Business Process Integration and Management, 4(2): p Bate, R, Kuhn, D, Wells, C, Armitage, J, and Clark, G (1995) A Systems Engineering Capability Maturity Model, Version 1.1. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Software Engineering Institute, Carnegie Mellon University. 7. Agrawal, M and Chari, K (2007) Software Effort, Quality, and Cycle Time: A Study of CMM Level 5 Projects. IEEE transactions on software development, 33(3): p Paulzen, O, Doumi, M, Perc, P, and Cereijo-Roibas, A (2002) A Maturity Model for Quality Improvement in Knowledge Management. In ACIS Volker, L, van der Lei, T E, and Ligtvoet, A (forthcoming) Developing a maturity model for infrastructural asset management systems. In 10th Conference on Applied Infrastructure Research (Infraday 2011), Berlin: TU Berlin. 10. Khoshgoftar, M and Osman, O (2009) Comparison of maturity models. In 2nd IEEE International Conference on Computer Science and Information Technology. 11. Judgev K, J Thomas (2002) Project management maturity models: The silver bullets of competitive advantage. Project Management Journal, 33(4): p Tiku, S, Azarian, M, and Pecht, M (2007) Using a reliability capability maturity model to benchmark electronics companies. International Journal of Quality & Reliability Management, 24(5): p Marshall, S and Mitchell, G (2007) Benchmarking international e-learning capability with the e-learning maturity model. In EDUCAUSE in Australasia, Melbourne, Australia. 14. Ligtvoet, A, Van der Lei, T E, and Herder, P M (2010) Leren van andere organisaties (Learning from other organizations). Delft: Delft University of Technology. 15. Wijnia, Y C and Herder, P M (2009) The state of Asset Management at infrastructures in the Netherlands. In 4th World Congress on Engineering Asset Management and Intelligent Maintenance Systems (WCEAM 2009), Athens, Greece: WCEAM. 16. British Standards Institute PAS 55-1 and -2 - Asset Management: Specification for the optimized management of physical infrastructure asset. 2004, The Institute of Asset Management: Bristol, UK. APPENDIX I Interview Protocol Category Strategy Tools Environment Resources Questions 1) What does the process of agenda setting for (long-term) replacement issues look like for your organization? 2) How and in what way does your organization prepare for replacement decision making? 3) What are the assessment methods used to write-off long term investments? 4) How does your organization deal with an uncertain future when taking decisions on major investments related to the replacement of an infrastructure? And how do you deal with flexibility and robustness? 5) How does your organization decide what is uncertain and what is more or less certain? 6) How are users and partners on the networks and on connecting networks involved in the planning process? 7) How does your organization fulfil the role / responsibility of the manager / asset manager in relation to other stakeholders (policy makers, politicians, and partners in the region)? 8) How is knowledge of the market partners used in your own process? 9) How is replacement financed (publicly, privately, pps,...)? 10) How are funds for the replacement of infrastructure allocated in relation to operation, maintenance and construction? 11) How are the training and staff development needs met? 5

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