SEAMS: The asset investment planning challenge and how to solve it:
Globally, many utility companies report a stark contrast between their strategic plan and their actual delivery plans. For a variety of reasons, the projects carried out often bear little or no relation to the strategic investment plan. The success of individual projects, the way in which new, emerging risks and associated solutions are assessed and approved or declined is often unknown to the central business.
This difference between the strategic and delivery investment plans can pose difficulties within an organization.
Strategic and delivery investment plans have different levels of detail and also often have different content. The process by which strategy is cascaded to delivery and managed on an on-going day to day basis can be challenging, and for many organizations this is not an acceptable position.
Decision support has a key role to play in developing investment strategies for long term planning at both asset and portfolio levels. It’s an area where specialized asset management Decision Support Tools (DSTs) can offer much more than generic corporate solutions and help to understand the implications of changes to strategic investment plans and resultant changes in outcomes.
Management require fast and reliable answers to ‘what if’ questions:
- ‘What are the implications on outcomes from a 5% budget reduction?’
- ‘From which areas of the business can the most cost effective performance improvements be found?’
- ‘How does changes to our performance based rate case affect our investment choices?’
Getting quick and reliable answers to such questions is difficult. This results in business plans often being developed based on just a handful of different scenarios, sometimes even just one! Leading infrastructure organizations are developing business plans informed by guided evaluation of many different options, and also doing it in less time than more manual planning methods.
However the lack of DST functionality in core systems isn’t the sole reason for the lack of strategic insight. Often the supporting process undertaken doesn’t help. Data extraction, manipulation and formatting is often done in a manual fashion, involving multiple systems and individuals. Data refreshes become time consuming and prone to error, which places constraints on the time within which strategic scenarios can be performed as well as reducing management confidence in their outputs.
Plus the traditional approach of designing all schemes from the ground up with a limited role for top down statistical analysis causes a rigid and unnecessarily specific investment profile to be proposed. This limits a company’s ability to get clarity on new ways of working. There simply aren’t enough manually generated schemes to review when things need to change.
So how can utility companies find a way to manage their plan dynamically through an asset management planning cycle?
At SEAMS we’ve developed a system to use combined project and asset data with an innovative modelling and optimization technology to manage, monitor and inform the business in a tactical to operational timeframe. This system provides more regular forecasts of cost, risk and performance and helps organizations to react to real-world change, with the aim to outperform the business plan.
Our Integrated Optimized Planning (IOP) solution is a system to build a dynamic rolling deliverable plan. It’s completely integrated with other business asset management and ERP systems to synchronize and track asset investment lifecycles.
Our clients find they can take control of their operational maintenance expenditure and capital investment decisions through an accurate and timely understanding of their actual position against projected budgets and performance. This agility enables them to answer questions such as “How should our programme change with this overrun?” and “How should we respond when new needs or risks emerge?” so that they maximize performance and customer value.