From project management to asset management

When does a construction ‘project’ become an ‘asset’? I guess sometime around hand-over, when it ceases to be something planned, designed and constructed within a relatively short time-frame and budget by a project team, and becomes something that needs to be managed over a much longer period by/for the owner/operator. (Schemes being delivered as a private finance initiative or public-private partnership (PFI/PPP) are different, of course; here, procurement usually involves the delivery consortium taking additional responsibility for management of the built asset for a concession period that may be 20 or 30 years long – giving a different perspective on the lifetime value of the asset; see also my 2005 post Be Valuable: The Saxon report.)

Information collated from the initial briefing stage, through conceptual and detailed design, to construction, snagging and hand-over has great value during the ‘project phase, but the minutiae of how an asset was created is often less important to the owner/operator than what has actually been delivered. And over time, as further projects are undertaken to repair, refurbish, extend or augment the original built asset, or as additional similar projects are undertaken in other locations, the owner/operator simply wants an up-to-date view of data relating to the current built asset(s), regardless of how and when construction was phased.

I make these points to try to make it clear that construction project data needs to be capable of being constantly reorganised and restructured if it is to be of value to facilities managers and others. During the operational life of an asset, the initial design and as-built information is very quickly complemented by new data about how assets are performing, their repair and maintenance requirements, health and safety issues, energy use, etc. Focus switches to managing issues such as sustainability, the impacts of changing demographics, compliance with new regulatory frameworks and the like (perhaps in the future with a building information model, BIM, as the basis for asset management, as outlined by BSRIA’s Andrew Eastwell at this summer’s BuildingSMART conference – see post). And, in many instances, managers are not solely focused on a single asset, but are looking to make strategic investment decisions across multiple assets (eg: 100 supermarkets within a region, 10 hospital buildings of different vintages, branch offices in 15 different locations, etc), and so need to mashup both pan-asset data and market intelligence drawn from a range of internal and external sources.

(Such issues will, I hope, be covered at Be2camp in London on 10 October, and at a forthcoming SCRI forum seminar on asset management on 16 October at the University of Salford – see events listing.)

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