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How to manage land with your CMMS

Dec. 6, 2016
David Berger says keep track of who’s doing what where on your plant's property.

Land is a physical asset that must be managed like any other asset. So which technologies are your best options for land management? You have a few options. Specialized software applications that support land acquisition and management exist, but these applications are typically standalone. Alternatively, a geographical information system (GIS) can be used to provide a geospatial representation of land parcels and the assets on them. However, a GIS is not hierarchical and is not designed to manage transactions such as projects, work orders, and so on. An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system is helpful in managing some transactions, such as lease payments, land-related document control, and contacts made with landowners, but it may not be fully integrated with other functions. 

Given that land is essentially a linear asset, perhaps what works best is a fully integrated land management solution with a CMMS as the core application for managing land parcels, landowners, and other stakeholders, as well as work order control, project management, contact management, financial management, and integration with GIS. These functions are discussed below. The capability and level of sophistication of your CMMS will dictate how much integration is necessary with specialized land management, ERP, and other systems.

Land parcel management

Central to a land management system (LMS) is a land asset registry to record key information about land parcels (identification number, land type, location information, appraisal value, document reference numbers, etc.). Depending on how sophisticated your CMMS is, this will be accommodated through the CMMS asset register and/or integration with specialty LMS and GIS software.

The location information you’ll need to maintain will depend on the local jurisdiction but may include lot and plan numbers, a Crown description, a survey or map reference, roadway intersections, GPS (global positioning system) coordinates, and latitude and longitude coordinates. Depending on the land parcel’s shape, multiple coordinates can reference the outer limits or corners of the property, or one set of coordinates can represent the centroid.

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There may be multiple assets on the land that require referencing, such as trees, bridges, signs, walkways, furniture, structures, and/or facilities. These assets may or may not be registered as separate assets, depending on the level of granularity required for tracking work history.

Another key feature of the land parcel asset registry is the ability to maintain active and inactive records. For example, if a parcel of land is split or two parcels are combined, both the old and new reference information and history should be maintained with appropriate cross-referencing. This requirement is similar to that of all linear assets, such as water mains that are split, abandoned, replaced, or combined.  Thus, each land parcel should have a status and corresponding “from/to” dates (also known as “since/until” dates) to keep more accurate records of land parcel history.

Stakeholder management

Every land parcel has one or more stakeholders – the landowner, property manager, tenants and/or contractors – who will be referenced As with the land parcel, each stakeholder status should have a “from” and “to” reference date to keep track of active and inactive stakeholders.

Stakeholder name and contact information will be included, and it’s critical that the software accommodate multiple address, email, and phone number fields, as many stakeholders have multiple addresses or phone numbers. Each stakeholder must be cross-referenced to one or more land parcels. Contracts and other documents as well as notes about preferred method of payment or correspondence may be included for a given stakeholder in the records, too.

Your CMMS may be able to record stakeholder information through use of the supplier master or through integration with a specialty LMS and/or ERP package.

Work and project management

Your CMMS work management functionality most likely can plan and track all permitting and maintenance work done on the land parcel itself (e.g., grass-cutting) or work done on individual assets on the land (e.g., replacing a wind turbine blade). The work tracked will depend heavily on your industry but can reflect a combination of condition-based maintenance, routine preventive maintenance, and maintenance resulting from asset failure (for example, cleaning up a pipeline oil leak reported by a landowner). For more-sophisticated work, such as a major dig or construction project, some advanced CMMS packages offer strong project management functionality.

Contact management

Keeping track of all contacts made with stakeholders and the general public likely is a top priority. Some CMMS packages have this functionality built in; others offer it through integration with their ERP or other specialty software. Examples of these records include a history of correspondence sent to landowners requesting land access or notes entered regarding an encounter with a tenant (or his or her dog) during an inspection. Complaints received from a stakeholder or the general public would be recorded, too, regardless of whether they lead to work-order initiation.

Financial management

Companies may have legal agreements with stakeholders to pay on a regular schedule, as with lease payments, or on an as-needed basis, as with access fees. Payment records should be cross-referenced to an agreement’s document ID number, land parcel, landowner, and payee. Companies can use the CMMS supplier management functionality or an interface with their ERP system to manage payments.

Integration with GIS

A key requirement of LMS functionality is seamless integration with GIS.  The GIS interface provides a visual representation of land parcels, fixed assets, points of interest, etc. The GIS interface lets users filter and sort data within the CMMS and display the results on the map. Furthermore, users should be able to draw a polygon on the map to generate a list of associated land parcels and stakeholders for the purposes of, say, setting up a mail merge for all landowners who need to be contacted within a given area.

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About the Author

David Berger | P.Eng. (AB), MBA, president of The Lamus Group Inc.

David Berger, P.Eng. (AB), MBA, is president of The Lamus Group Inc., a consulting firm that provides advice and training to extract maximum performance, quality and value from your physical assets, processes, information systems and organizational design. Based in Toronto, Berger has held senior positions in industry, including for two large manufacturers, and senior roles in consulting. He has written more than 450 articles on a variety of topics such as asset management, operations management, information technology, e-commerce, organizational design, and strategy. Contact him at [email protected].

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