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News, insights and perspectives

May 2020

Long Term Planning in our new world: Be agile and flexible


By Priyani de Silva-Currie

Long term plans are getting a lot of attention right now, with not only the delivery of them being required by July, but with the need to re-look at them in light of the world we find ourselves in. In two previous posts I’ve covered the need to understand what is essential, followed by the need for Councils to balance their role in stimulating the economy with focusing on what's important. Today, I’m covering how strong Asset Management is the foundation to effective delivery.

The immediate future is uncertain - no one knows what our communities will look like in three, six, 12 or 18 months, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be well prepared for any scenario. Councils may need two or even three plans;

  • The ‘fast track’ plan

  • The ‘business as usual plan’, or

  • The ‘essential only’ plan.

Now is the time to be flexible, responsive and agile.

Councils also need to be aware of the impacts each of their decisions, even if the decision is to do nothing now and wait and see. If government funding is cut or reallocated, or applied to a certain geographic area and not your area, what is the impact to Council’s Long Term Plan affordability and associated programme?

Essentially, right now Councils should be having a good look at their forward works plan and decide how to reprioritise and reprogramme through these different scenarios by applying ‘tension’. Previous experiences in New Zealand have shown that it is key to assess demand and supply right now.  Talk to contractors, suppliers and experts to close any information gaps.

For example, should Council’s plan move to the ‘fast track’ version, Councils need to know what the contractors’ capacity is in their area and if they can source resources from other areas. If we experience a drop in domestic housing demand over the next two years, identify what indicators mean it's the right time to invest in the required infrastructure again.

One of the key strengths of Asset Managers is their ability to communicate across organisations. The work they do right now will greatly increase the robustness of Council’s Long Term Plan. As articulators of demand and supply, and assessors of the current and future environment Council operates within, their story is a compelling one and should form the strategic lens Councils use to communicate to their own teams and also externally to their communities.

All in all, strong asset management and planning is at the core of responding to this new world we have found ourselves in, and just like we act in times of uncertainty - be prepared, have a plan and move quickly only if you need to. What’s important may have changed in your community and that’s ok.

Should you need any help to work through what we’ve raised, our team have experience across asset management, risk management, effective decision making and prioritisation frameworks, social impact assessments and a range of other skills that enable you to prepare for the future.

Contact Priyani de Silva Currie: | 021 347 107

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