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A Journey in Municipal Asset Management: Township of Central Frontenac

Client Overview

The Township of Central Frontenac has been using Citywide software since 2012, seeing various iterations and being a strong advocate for its advancements. The Township, nestled in picturesque Eastern Ontario, has a population of just over 4,000 and is headquartered in Sharbot Lake.

Beginning the modernization of their asset management program, Central Frontenac prioritized creating an asset inventory first as it underpinned all of their long-term planning, including budgeting. In this case study, we take a look at their journey. While recognizing that each municipality is unique and has different priorities, the experience of the Township offers fellow municipalities insight into how a small town built a mature asset management program from the ground up.

Throughout the Township’s ongoing implementation, staff have had to overcome several challenges. One of the common difficulties included acquiring buy-in from staff across the organization. Additionally, the Township was also tasked with finding software modules that met all of their organization’s needs and system preferences.

years as a PSD Citywide client
assets in inventory
work orders processed in 2021
estimated administrative hours saved on work orders in 2021

Asset Management Software & Consulting Path

In order to begin the digital transformation of their asset management practices, the implementation of an Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS) became their primary objective. The Township acquired PSD Citywide’s Asset Manager module and worked diligently to fully implement the system and, more broadly, to create an overarching plan to develop an asset management program.

In consultation with PSD Citywide, the Township determined the appropriate structures required of a mature asset management program. As a first step, the Township created an Asset Management Plan (AMP). Treasurer Michael McGovern stated that they partially sought an AMP to meet provincial requirements but found value in the additional elements that PSD Citywide’s Asset Management Plans include. With these additional asset management insights uncovered from developing their asset management plan, Central Frontenac began acquiring other PSD Citywide software and consulting services to further mature their program.

Pain Points & Challenges

The first component of PSD Citywide’s work with the Township was identifying a champion within its ranks. Treasurer Michael McGovern stepped up to the plate, along with valuable assistance from the management team and council, and has worked closely with us since the very beginning.

A core challenge was acquiring funding for the development of their asset management program. By championing asset management as a priority to both council and staff, McGovern was able to allocate a budget for related software and consulting services, in addition to provincial and federal grants that promote modernization of asset management practices. The Township took advantage of both FCM’s Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP) and Ontario’s Municipal Modernization Program in order to secure key funds for their program development.

The next step was obtaining buy-in from staff across the organization. This was a minor struggle for the Township, mostly at the management and staff levels, with some pushback and adversity to change. In the end, buy-in was fairly successful for the Township since stakeholders recognized the value of implementing new tools. McGovern says he understands that’s not always the case within municipalities.

The Township found that some of the resistance was rooted in the lack of internal staff time to drive asset management initiatives. McGovern submits that it would have been useful to have some software modules earlier in program development, however, the Township did not have staff available to utilize them to their full potential. To that end, McGovern’s advice to fellow municipalities is to not worry about implementing solutions or creating processes all at once.

Pick off what you can do. We would have rather had everything perfect from the start but bite off only what you can handle. It’s okay to do things in stages.

The Township of Central Frontenac has overcome typical municipal government challenges of staff buy-in and limited financial resources to create the robust asset management program that exists today. Looking back on their journey, the Township considers what they would and wouldn’t do differently, and provides a path that other municipalities may consider when embarking on an asset management journey of their own.

Ideal Path for Central Frontenac

Citywide Asset Manager – Inputting assets as top priority

The Township began the process of cataloging assets in 2008. If they had the opportunity, they would have chosen to implement Asset Collector and GIS alongside Asset Manager and Maintenance Manager. They stress that there are several factors to consider before committing to these tools but maintain they would have been useful earlier in their journey.

  • Citywide GIS – GIS works better the more refined your asset data and program are. It’s most useful to have GIS in conjunction with Asset Manager and Maintenance Manager, however, it is dependent on the maturity of the program and the amount of resources available.
  • Citywide Asset Collector – Asset Collector would have been ideal right from the start when the Township was initially collecting asset data. It is still a useful tool to the Township — but they recommend ensuring there are enough human resources to use this add-on to the fullest before implementation.

Maintenance Manager (CMMS) – Extending asset data to other departments

This is a step that the Township felt was the best course of action at the time of implementation and maintains that they wouldn’t change anything about purchasing and implementing this product at this phase.

  • Public Works – Once asset data is gathered and structured in Asset Manager, Maintenance Manager can be better utilized by the public works department to create work orders, preventive maintenance schedules, resource calculations, and reports for management and council. This assists with bridging the gap between finance and public works.
  • Other Departments – The use of Maintenance Manager is easily expanded to other departments (i.e. fire, building, etc.) when the public works department is using the module to its full potential and creating more efficient internal practices.

Citywide Budgeting – Modernizing financial management and planning

After building an asset database, the general ledger was the next priority in order to improve overall structures.

The Township was comfortable with using Excel for their financial management and planning, however, they realized the value of Citywide Budgeting and chose to further modernize their processes through the use of the software. They call it a “major win”. Some municipalities may wish to implement this piece first or before Maintenance Manager, but the Township was happy with implementing Maintenance Manager first as it’s more far-reaching.

The system makes financial reporting and report management super simple. Information for council is at my fingertips and saves me tons of time creating FIR backup reports. It’s a godsend.

McGovern did mention that, now that he and his team are more comfortable with Citywide Budgeting, they occasionally have to return to older reports and update them to reflect current skill levels in the system. This can be a minor hitch at times but it’s simple and quick to update reports and see the improvements moving forward.

Citywide Permits – Uncomplicating permit management

Permits were too much and too confusing to track in Excel, as well as in financial software, so the Township sought a more streamlined solution. Citywide Permits allows the Township to track a Permit from start to finish, reduce administrative time, and pull a variety of reports.

They have recently acquired e-Permits to allow citizens to submit permit requests through the Township’s website to further speed up the permitting process.

Enhancements and Earlier Adoptions

The Township expressed there were some tools that would have been useful earlier in their product path. They did, however, stress the need to properly measure the funding and staff requirements to use these tools effectively.

  • Asset Collector – This would have been useful when starting their asset management program, but only if there was funding and staff available to go out and collect asset information.
  • Enterprise GIS – This would have been useful to implement alongside Asset Manager, if the asset program/data is refined enough.
  • Decision Support – The Township suggested Decision Support should be implemented towards the beginning of the roadmap to be able to make more educated, efficient decisions. Decision Support is important to demonstrate this information to council.
  • Budgeting (FIR) – The Township suggested implementing the FIR module (Ontario only) alongside Citywide Budgeting because it allows for information to come from one place and would save an extensive amount of time through automating the FIR process.
  • Citizen Request Portal (CRP) – This could be added earlier alongside Maintenance Manager to reduce administrative time by automating some aspects of citizen requests.

PSD Citywide’s tools are customizable to your municipality’s unique needs.

A Tangible Improvement for the Township

The Township of Central Frontenac has been an excellent partner to PSD Citywide since 2012 and that partnership has enabled open discussion about how they use the Citywide platform and things they would do differently given the chance.

Through the use of PSD Citywide’s software and the support of our consulting team, the Township has seen benefits in all departments such as faster customer service times, easier reporting and traceability, and better communication between departments resulting in an efficient, collaborative approach to their asset management efforts.

The Township of Central Frontenac has been a valuable resource over the years and we look forward to working with them in the future.

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