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BUILDING AN INTEGRATED ASSET MANAGEMENT CULTURE: Palm Beach County Water Utility Department's Experience

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Building an Integrated Asset Management (IAM) culture involves a wide range of leadership, technical, human resource and communication efforts to fundamentally change the organizational values, attitudes and behaviors, as well as the work processes of the organization. Cultural values of people are diverse and generally do not change substantially. Organizational culture changes involve changing the values, attitudes and expectations of people at work to influence their future decision making and perspectives, preferably in ways that improve organizational synergies and advance productivity. While great efforts are required to make organizational culture changes, the results can be long lasting and well worth the effort.

IAM affects all parts of the utility business. It provides a framework for changes in employee attitudes, behavior and new business processes. Many asset management programs focus on one or more specific areas, such as maintenance or capital improvements, or on discrete technical or business process issues IAM addresses all areas of the utility business that impact organizational performance including strategy, infrastructure, business processes, technology and human resource development. An IAM plan needs to include all of these areas to be successful.

The Palm Beach County Water Utilities Department (WUD) initiated an Integrated Asset Management program in November 2005. It started with a high level assessment of the utility and “Gap Analysis.” The initial focus of the program was to improve O&M business processes, and integrate data from various technologies. The Gap Analysis identified “People” issues that needed to be addressed to make the IAM program successful. At the same time, the Utility's management team was working to improve its strategic planning process and instill a new leadership culture of openness and cooperation. The IAM program incorporates all of these areas in a multi-year effort using cross functional teams.

Building an integrated asset management culture requires a significant commitment of time, talent, and funds over several years to produce long term sustainable results. This paper will provide details about how the WUD's organizational culture is being changed through the formation of multi-discipline teams, development of work plans, structured workshops, improved communications and team building. Our progress to date has realized tangible, costsaving improvements, and perhaps more importantly, the building of a sustaining asset management culture, both of which are worth the effort.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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