3.8 Developing An Asset Inventory
Once the answers to the questions in the previous sections are determined (what do I own, where is it, what condition is it in, what's its useful life, what's its value, what type and how much energy does it use) the information must be organized in an asset inventory. This step is important, but it should not be allowed to become all-consuming and utilities should not get "bogged down" in this step. The utility should complete this step to the extent possible in a reasonable amount of time and then move on. Alternatively, the utility could do the inventory a little bit at a time while working on the rest of the Asset Management program.
There are a number of systematic approaches to developing the asset inventory, such as collecting data one type of asset at a time (e.g., all the pumps, then all the hydrants, then all the valves), collecting data on one portion of the utility at a time (e.g., pre-treatment, then treatment, then solids handling), collecting the data linearly from one side to the other, collecting newer assets first (where there's likely to be more readily available information) followed by older assets, or collecting the data based on year of installation or based on major construction projects (this approach could be based on as-built drawings the utility has of each of its major construction efforts). Any of these approaches or any other approach that works for the utility is fine.
During the initial data collection effort, it is highly likely - and expected - that there will be gaps in the data. Some information may be missing, such as the manufacturer or the installation date or the value of the asset. During the initial inventory process, care should be taken to ensure that the best data possible is put into the inventory and reasonable estimates can be made for items that are missing. For example, if the installation year for pipe is unknown, the installation date of surrounding pipe may be used or if the construction date for a neighborhood served by the pipe is known, that date can be used. If no other data is available for installation an estimate of the oldest time of installation or an average date of installation may be used. The main point is to collect the best and highest quality data given the available resources of personnel, time, records, and technology during the initial survey. and then allow data quality to improve later.
The sophistication of the asset inventory can be increased over time. The utility may start out with a simple approach and improve upon that as resources become more available. The most important thing is to just get started with the inventory. Anything the utility does towards cataloguing what it owns in a systematic fashion will improve overall management of the assets and decision making.