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The People Who Make Municipal Operations Management Work

A Day in the Life of Marana, Arizona

Last time, I interviewed my friend and fellow traveler, Brendan O’Connor. He is someone I can always count on to help me think through issues, create new modules and discuss the future of asset management as we take this trip together. However, I also have others that are travelling with me in a supportive role.

Teresa Skinner and Bernadette Romero enter all of Marana's Utilities Department data into Cartegraph. But, unlike the family trip where the wild hyenas in the back seat, (who are cleverly disguised as children) keep whining, “Are we there yet,” these two individuals are the exact opposite, providing a constant source of encouragement and help. 

Note-Icon.png NOTE: Creating an asset management system is a lot like being a NASCAR driver; you may drive alone….but you do not race alone. In order to enjoy a successful implementation, you NEED a team.

No matter how passionate you are about creating a municipal asset management system for your enterprise, it is virtually impossible to do it all alone. You need gifted and talented people around you, helping you, encouraging you and being committed to the vision of enterprise-wide asset management.

Building a strong municipal asset management team is a combination of fortuitous circumstances and discovering an individual’s strengths and gifts. For us, the two ladies I mentioned were already in our department, serving as customer service representative and billing specialist. Thankfully, they embraced the challenge: entering 400-500 work orders per month while answering the phone, handling customer’s needs, running billing software, processing payments, etc. I have the pleasure of working with these two every day and have watched them take on these additional data-entry responsibilities, with nearly perfect accuracy.

Over the years, I have discovered a simple formula to use for people who will work with me. It is uncomplicated, but deadly accurate in determining a person’s potential and future effectiveness. If a person possesses all three of these qualities, they are virtually guaranteed success. If they fail to qualify on even one of these traits, I can guarantee that you can expect trouble at some point. They are as follows:


 Do they show up on time every day? Are they the type of person to commit to something and stick with it? Do they set a steady pace and keep going until they accomplish their goals? If the answer is yes, continue down the list. If the answer is no, stop, thank them, and wish them well, but DO NOT allow them on your team.


Are they willing to help with extra duties? Will they do whatever you ask of them, if it is explained properly and thoroughly? These are individuals who never say, “that’s not MY job!”. They are flexible and enjoy taking on a new challenge. “Availables” are people who hang around and ask, “Is there anything else I can do?” with a smile.


This means having a good attitude and being hungry to learn. You can train people to do a lot of different things, but you can NOT teach a good attitude. If someone is teachable, I am not overly concerned about how skilled they are; skills can be taught. If they are not teachable, I don’t want to work with them. You may consider that harsh, but do you want to create a great system or go home with a great headache? It’s your choice.

Teresa and Bernadette are exemplary when it comes to being teachable. I have trained them for hours to be sure they understand why I want work orders and assets entered a certain way. Because of their willingness to learn the system, accept additional duties, and do all of it with a great attitude, our system has become exponentially better than it would have without them. This entry is dedicated to them. I may be the one speaking at Connect conferences and consulting with other municipalities who want to know what to do to get started, but the reason I am able to do that is because of my faithful, available and teachable fellow employees, Teresa and Bernadette. Thanks for all you do!