Launch Slideshow

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Putting it All Together

Putting it All Together

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    Compared to 2007, will your capital-improvement budget increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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    Compared to 2006, will your capital-improvement budget increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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    Which of the following represents your department's greatest challenge in 2008?

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    Why

IBM Maximo, for example, has long provided computerized maintenance management systems like the one deployed in 2006 by the Lower Colorado River Authority in Texas, a nonprofit utility that provides water and electricity to 1 million customers. By integrating Maximo's asset-management and PeopleSoft enterprise application software packages, the authority has a program that links inventory and maintenance scheduling to accounting and labor costs.

If, for example, the authority begins using a new valve at a water treatment plant, it enters the valve identification number into the PeopleSoft system to match all maintenance on that valve to its purchase date and item number. That information is sent to Maximo, which tracks valve inventory and when and where each valve is used.

Until the new system became available, managers could see overall operating costs, but couldn't track them over time. Employees who needed a specific report had to request it from managers, who in turn asked another department—information technology—to produce it. By the time the employee received the requested data, it could be out of date.

The system runs on three Dell application servers running HP Unix and two database servers. Out in the field, 75 technicians pull up work orders on their laptops or PDAs and populate the fields so managers back in the office have a real-time view of asset status and location.

“It's helping us predict resource needs, including head count, costs, inventory, and maintenance,” says business systems analyst Brian Urbanek.

In October, in response to customers who were asking for GIS-centric asset-management software, IMB Maximo released a version of its enterprise asset management software built on ESRI's ArcGIS software. IBM Maximo Spatial Asset Management adds geospatial visualization and query capability to the process of capturing, analyzing, and reporting asset characteristics.

These are just a few developments that indicate how managers harness technology to present costs in ways that are difficult for elected officials and the public to dispute or refute. While you don't have to know the details of how these systems work, you do have to drive the change.

And that's the greatest challenge of all.

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For more information on what this year holds, go to:

In November, when we asked readers to share their budget expectations for the year, 573 of you completed our online questionnaire. Thank you! And congratulations to the 10 respondents who were randomly selected to receive gift certificates: Nicholas Camarano, Arthur Goodfriend, Larry Griffith, Heidi Hamilton, Michael Maloney, Scott Maring, Tony Price, Richard Sasse, Gilbert Sentell, and Dale Topham.