Asset management is not just knowing where your assets are at any given time—it’s also about knowing how your assets are performing. If your assets are spread over a large location, however, it can become expensive to employ enough staff to cover all areas and assets.

In fact, around 55 percent of asset management costs are linked to personnel costs, mainly because of tasks that could either be automated or improved using data science.

GIS mapping is set to become a game-changing technology when it comes to improving efficiencies and promoting decision-making backed by data. Currently, 80 percent of asset maintenance time is spent reacting to issues rather than proactively preventing them.

Organizations that employ GIS mapping to identify problems before they occur will be able to spend more time focusing on strategy rather than worrying about asset performance. Research conducted by Morgan Stanley has shown that the asset management industry as a whole could save 20 percent in costs by automating several employee functions.

In this piece, I’ll provide an overview of what GIS mapping is and go through these 3 areas in which it can improve asset management processes:


 

  1. Data management
  2. Operations management
  3. Cost reduction

What is GIS mapping?

GIS stands for geographic information system—a system designed to manipulate, visualize, capture, analyze, and store geographical data.

GIS mapping entails layering multiple sets of geographical data points so that users can view various combinations of data on a map. For example, sets of data such as population, locations of specific buildings, and locations of utilities can be layered on top of a standard map.

Example of GIS data layering

Example of GIS data layering (Source)

Combinations of data layers can be viewed on a GIS map, which helps to identify data patterns that may be difficult to find within static geographical data. For example, a supermarket that wants to know how many of its neighbors are shopping at nearby competitor stores can use GIS to layer addresses with shopping habits to target marketing at specific customers.

Example of how a GIS map can help determine where network investments should go

Example of how a GIS map can help determine where network investments should go (Source)

How can GIS mapping improve asset management?

Given that assets always have a location base, mapping assets is the most effective method of logging them. But knowing only where your assets are provides you little more than a simple geographical inventory. GIS mapping provides many more layers of asset data, and therefore more opportunity for deeper analysis.

Using GIS mapping can also develop stronger communication and collaboration processes within teams, given that databases can be accessed through multiple devices. This allows multiple stakeholders to be involved in decision-making.

1. Data management

GIS mapping of assets can aid in the collection, organization, and integration of data.

GIS mapping can drive the improvement of asset management practices in the way it configures and collects data. Without collecting asset data, organizations will struggle to effectively strategize for their asset management program.

Eighty percent of asset managers don’t know what assets they own, what their condition is, what maintenance they need, or the necessary budget. The information that can be gleaned from GIS mapping can help organizations:

  • More accurately estimate the lifecycle of assets
  • Identify preventive maintenance needs
  • Determine risks that could arise from the breakdown in assets
  • Proactively plan for any breakdowns.

Overall, GIS asset mapping helps organizations visualize patterns, trends, and relationships. From minor details with low impact to details such as the exact whereabouts of a breakdown, or how many customers an event could affect, GIS mapping can help reduce operational costs by providing more accurate asset information.

2. Operations management

The data collected from GIS mapping can help inform operational decisions by integrating with other software systems.

GIS mapping can also help organizations to be more operationally savvy. By mapping assets and integrating this with facility management software, organizations can improve:

  • Facility management and planning practices, by being able to visualize spaces, assets, and personnel.
  • Work order creation, by using the predictive features of GIS mapping.
  • Efficiency in searching for information on space allocation, accurate locations of facilities, duplication of work, and adding and updating data.

3. Cost reduction

GIS mapping can reduce costs associated with many asset management business processes.

Because of the remote nature of GIS mapping, data can be collected and disseminated rapidly. This can reduce costs and increase efficiency, including costs associated with:

  • Maintenance schedules
  • Inventory tracking
  • Generating work orders
  • Location plotting
  • Extending the service life of assets.

Next steps for implementing GIS mapping into asset management processes

Though GIS mapping can help organizations manage and visualize their assets at scale, not all organizations that undertake asset management practices should employ GIS mapping. Startup and maintenance costs can be high, and the return on investment should be considered before implementation.

Organizations that want to implement GIS mapping to improve their asset management practices should follow the instructions below before investment:

  1. Undertake a complete inventory of all assets
  2. Record asset data such as age, condition, location, associated costs, renewal expectations
  3. Determine risks associated with assets
  4. Establish an asset management plan.

Once your organization has a full view of its assets, associated costs, and a long-term plan, you can determine whether your organization has a need for GIS mapping software.