The New Magic Word: Empowerment

Written by Steve Schwabe, IAM

Recently, I had the opportunity to run several workshops for an asset management system (AMS) implementation project. The workshops served as a meaningful transition for the project as we wrapped up planning and prepared to configure the software. We began by introducing the future end users to the new AMS solution, and we demystified the project by demonstrating the software and answering questions about its capabilities and the implementation process.    

During demos like this one, it’s important to connect with the audience. If we can discover and understand their pain points, such as duplicate entries, paperwork overload, missed communications or inaccessible information, we can relate to them by sharing stories of peer cities that overcame similar challenges by implementing enterprise AMS solutions.

While the client faced typical challenges, the term that resonated most with the utilities department operations and maintenance staff was empowerment. The staff showed extreme pride in the services they delivered, and they longed for the ability to step up and do more.   

I had the impression that every person in the room wanted to be his or her own supervisor. The overwhelming sentiment was, “Give me the information I need, and I’ll make the right decision.” With AMS solutions, organizations can decentralize asset information and empower a distributed labor force to work more autonomously. 

The staff’s excitement about the AMS implementation grew exponentially through the short software demonstration, and by the end, the fundamental question was, "When can we get it?" AMS implementations take time, sometimes a year or more, but when an organization has full buy-in, the process can go very quickly. The city staff unanimously asked for a fast-track implementation.   

At the end of the workshop, I received handshakes, fist bumps and other various gestures of appreciation from folks streaming out to thank me for the information. The most telling expression was from the field crews' supervisor, a bear of a man whose entire staff wanted to be empowered to do his job. From him, I got a hug.

Steve Schwabe, IAM

Steven Schwabe is a Project Manager in Woolpert's Information Technology and Management Consulting (ITMC) group. An expert in enterprise asset management programs and software solutions, he draws his experience from a diverse background in engineering, operations management, manufacturing, business consulting and various software implementations (EAM, CMMS and ERP) across private industry and public-sector organizations. Steve’s strength is in bringing large and complex solutions into focus across all levels of an organization while managing all phases of service delivery.