Perhaps the trickiest and most difficult aspect of asset management is bringing order to the human aspect of technician accountability.
Here on our blog we have covered the mechanical and informational aspects of inventory and asset management and especially how important it is to have the right software platform in place to manage everything. We've discussed, for example, how ensuring that safety stock levels are appropriate can mean the difference between a normal operations day and a service outage—and today we cover the biggest variable involved in asset management, people.
Even with the best software, planning and processes in the world, human error can derail the most well-intentioned asset management program. Alden employee Suzanne Knott knows this first-hand. As an expert in the CO world, she’s seen all manner of human consequence in central office operations, especially in the misplacement or lack of identification of critical equipment, like plug-in assets. With her expert help, we put together some scenarios worth sharing:
The "Where did this come from?" situation.
Whenever assets are moved or replaced, the equipment should be accounted for, noting its status as excess, working, non-working, etc. If a technician lays a piece of equipment down randomly without documenting its movement in the company’s asset management system, that causes a problem. Potentially, in this scenario, bad assets may be mistaken for good ones. “We come across...tables full of circuit packs." You ask, What are these? Spares? Defective? For new service? How would you know?
The "We know where this came from, now how did it get here?" situation.
On the wireless and mobility side of the CO arena, assets such as plugs are often outfitted with tags—a specific number unique to that circuit pack that helps track its movements between trucks to warehouses to COs and back. Often, however, circuit packs will “wander,” and when their serial numbers are checked against the system, it is found they are not physically where they are supposed to be. This happens when a technician does not update the system when an item is moved. Again, this is problematic, as not having specific equipment where it is needed, and not knowing that critical items are not where they should be could cause significant problems with regard to service continuity.
All in all, notes Suzanne, “This is how stuff gets lost, how things get written off that do not need to be, and how thousands of dollars of assets are shown as missing or lost—all because of a lack of human accountability.”
So, consider good asset management a double-sided coin. On one side, you have software and process; ones and zeroes. On the other, you have people; much more organic and complicated. Get a handle on both, and you will have mastered both the art and science of asset management.