By Jono Ferguson-Pye
Infrastructure Manager, Palmerston North City Council

In November 2019 the Palmerston North City Council established a dedicated Asset Planning Division (APD) as part of a wider restructure of the Council’s Infrastructure Unit. Historically there had been a lack of resourcing and focus on asset management (AM) practice across the Council. The overarching purpose of the APD is to achieve the long-term benefits to the Council and the community of effective asset management practice. These benefits include improved accountability, sustainability, risk management, financial efficiency and optimised asset investment.

The approach was to commit to a whole of organisation focus on AM practice and to separate the operational (present day) focus of the business from the AM planning function (future focus). Standing up and resourcing a dedicated AM function meant AM practice was given appropriate priority and not crowded out by the operational demands of the business. The purpose of the APD has been to move AM practice towards being a whole of organisation responsibility rather than solely the responsibility of those managing core assets which in the past has led to a siloed approach to AM practice.

As part of the setting up of the APD all team members have worked through the first four IPWEA NZ AM digital badges. The benefit of this is that the badges have provided a common knowledge baseline and understanding for everyone. This has created a real sense of purpose for the team, plus has introduced a healthy dose of competition as everyone strives to make sure they complete their badges and retain their space in the AM badge ‘Hall of Fame’.

In addition to this we have made sure that completion of the badges is part of basic training for our graduate programme. In order to give our graduates a good start to their working lives we endeavour to ensure they complete a range of training in various areas such as safety, finance, project management, contract management and, of course, asset management. The digital badges have been ideal for the programme because they provide the basics accessibly and in a way that makes learning easy.

Jono Ferguson-Pye is an Asset and Planning Manager at Palmerston North City Council.