Asset management, broadly defined, refers to any system that monitors and maintains things of value to an entity or group. It may apply to both tangible assets (such as buildings) and to intangible assets such as human capital, intellectual property, goodwill and/or financial assets). Asset management is a systematic process of developing, operating, maintaining, upgrading, and disposing of assets cost-effectively.
The term is most commonly used in the financial sector to describe people and companies who manage investments on behalf of others. Those include, for example, investment managers that manage the assets of a pension fund.
Alternative views of asset management in the engineering environment are: the practice of managing assets to achieve the greatest return (particularly useful for productive assets such as plant and equipment), and the process of monitoring and maintaining facilities systems, with the objective of providing the best possible service to users in all dimensions (appropriate for public infrastructure assets).
The most common usage of the term "asset manager" refers to investment management, the sector of the financial services industry that manages investment funds and segregated client accounts. Asset management is part of a financial company which employs experts who manage money and handle the investments of clients. From studying the client's assets to planning and looking after the investments, all things are looked after by the asset managers and recommendations are provided based on the financial health of each client.
Infrastructure asset management is the combination of management, financial, economic, engineering, and other practices applied to physical assets with the objective of providing the required level of service in the most cost-effective manner. It includes the management of the entire lifecycle--including design, construction, commissioning, operating, maintaining, repairing, modifying, replacing and decommissioning/disposal--of physical and infrastructure assets. Operation and maintenance of assets in a constrained budget environment require a prioritization scheme. As a way of illustration, the recent development of renewable energy has seen the rise of effective asset managers involved in the management of solar systems (solar park, rooftops and windmills). These teams are actually more and more teaming-up with financial asset managers in order to offer turnkey solutions to investors. Infrastructure asset management became very important in most of the developed countries in the 21st century, since their infrastructure network was almost completed in the 20th century and they have to manage to operate and maintain them cost-effectively.Software asset management is one kind of infrastructure asset management.
Enterprise asset management is the business of processing and enabling information systems that support management of an organization's assets, both physical assets, called "tangible", and non-physical, "intangible" assets.
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Public asset management, also called corporate[contradictory] asset management, expands the definition of enterprise asset management (EAM) by incorporating the management of all things of value to a municipal jurisdiction and its citizens' expectations. An example in which public asset management is used is land-use development and planning.
An EAM requires an asset registry (inventory of assets and their attributes) combined with a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). All public assets are interconnected and share proximity, possible through the use of geographic information systems (GIS).
A GIS-centric public asset management standardizes data and allows interoperability, providing users the capability to reuse, coordinate, and share information in an efficient and effective manner by making the GIS geo-database the asset registry. A GIS platform combined with information of both the "hard" and "soft" assets helps to remove the traditional silos of structured municipal functions. While the hard assets are the typical physical assets or infrastructure assets, the soft assets of a municipality includes permits, license, code enforcement, right-of-ways and other land-focused work activities.
The GIS platform is only an assisting tool; asset managers need to make informed decisions about their assets in order to fulfill their organizational goals. While geospatially displayed information can assist in decision-making, the deep understanding of markets, engineering systems, and human interaction enabled by analysis and synthesis of information not found in GIS systems is also present.
Increasingly both consumers and organizations use assets, e.g. software, music, books, etc. where the user's rights are constrained by a license agreement. An asset management system would identify the constraints upon such licenses, e.g. a time period. If, for example, one licenses software, often the license is for a given period of time. Adobe and Microsoft both offer time based software licenses. In both the corporate and consumer worlds, there is a distinction between software ownership and the updating of software. One may own a version of software, but not newer versions of the software. Cellular phones are often not updated by vendors, in an attempt to force purchase of newer hardware. Large companies such as Oracle, that license software to clients distinguish between the right to use and the right to received maintenance/support.