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The Hillsborough County Water Department (Department) provides water, wastewater, and reclaimed water services to approximately 150,000 accounts or about 400,000 customers in Hillsborough County, Florida. The Department was formed in the 1970's originally by purchasing many small franchise utilities and in the early eighties began a major construction program to regionalize the system into two services areas, eliminating all franchises. The County has been growing at a rate of from 3 to 4 percent annually since then, and most of the capital projects have been devoted to expanding capacity to meet demands. Currently, the Department has over 1.2 billion dollars worth of infrastructure that it manages.

Approximately 8 years ago, the Department and CDM, Inc. (acting as the Department's bond engineer) identified the need to better plan for the renewal and replacement (R&R) of its assets. At that time, the Department created a 20-year capital program that included significant funding of R&R projects, significant rate increases, and major refinancing plans that allowed us to shift to a pay-as-you-go capital finance plan. Five years later, the Department realized that we needed to implement a new, Comprehensive Asset Management System to deal with our upcoming aging infrastructure, predominantly reactive maintenance programs, and the wide assortment of software systems that did not communicate with each other. CDM worked with the Department to formulate an advanced asset management strategy that included the design and procurement of an enterprise-wide, sophisticated Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) as the heart of a larger Comprehensive Asset Management System (CAMS). This paper outlines the strategic planning, design, and procurement process for obtaining CAMS.

The strategic aspect of the project involved identifying existing asset management procedures, policies, and work groups. The process began by analyzing the existing systems in use by the Water Department for customer service, work orders, timekeeping, financials, procurement, human resources, GIS, and warehousing. Next, a gap analysis/plan was prepared to show where we were versus where we needed to go. Workshops were held to develop the basic philosophy and principles of asset management that were to be implemented by the Department. A computer architecture was designed using a CMMS that would be the heart of the application; interfacing with other systems, and providing comprehensive management reports.

A rigorous process of workshops with Department User Groups, including demonstrations of currently available CMMS software systems, resulted in the preparation of a highly detailed Request for Proposal (RFP) for CAMS. The RFP carefully defined the functional needs of the Department, minimum qualifications for the potential bidders, and the specific, CAMS implementation plan. Minimum qualifications included; completion of similar, successful projects, project team member experience, ability to meet project schedule, and cost were criteria used to make the selection. The selection involved a three step process of written proposal, site visits to working installations, and oral presentations. The decision to carefully select the contractor and the process took more than 6 months from start to finish.

The design and selection process seems to be working as planned. The project is planned to be a multi-year project with the following main tasks: initial work planning; workshops to familiarize staff to software capabilities; workshops to develop new business processes around the software capabilities; identification, integration, and data migration, pilot testing, training, and full roll-out only after the system is approved. This process is designed to provide two basic benefits, the first to allow the contractor to best tailor their CMMS system to the needs of the County and the second, to train staff in advanced asset management, a complete organizational paradigm shift. At the same time, the Department is also in the process of a major inventory and assessment program to identify all of the assets that will go into the new system.

By allowing staff the time to ask questions and provide input into the creative process, the overall commitment to change has skyrocketed. The workshops have become a place where once isolated divisions are now actively working out solutions to problems that have existed for years. The project has successfully fulfilled one of its goals that of encouraging staff participation and all indications are that, once gone live, all will use the system as planned.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2006

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