You need the right data to make the right decisions about assets, but who you are and the work you are doing means that you have specific data needs. VDAS provides these tools to:

  • help asset custodians chose the right project to maximise the benefits of available funding
  • allow infrastructure delivery agencies to secure the funding they need with strong evidence, and specify the right data for future use from their supply chains
  • empower asset operators to manage cost and risk by allowing assets to be optimised through their lives, and by leveraging digital twin scenarios and options assessment in their planning.

Across the asset lifecycle, from conception to disposal, a lack of relevant data to inform decisions has ramifications beyond the immediate decision; it influences the viability, quality and experience of the asset for potentially decades to come. When these decisions about large scale public infrastructure are made, the impact of the decision is exacerbated, as well as the transparency and accountability of that decision. So how do we recognise the value of data, and its impact on the public good that comes from the assets it records?

The Victorian Government has taken this challenge seriously. The Department of Treasury and Finance, in conjunction with the Office of Projects Victoria, released the Victorian Digital Asset Strategy (VDAS) Strategic Framework in 2019, and has launched the VDAS Guidance document in February of 2020. Together these describe the Government’s vision for creating digital assets, typically arising from capital projects, and getting the maximum benefit from this information. Quality data is identified as the cornerstone of effective decision making, and its management an enabler for government objectives. VDAS answers the questions on how agencies and departments can take the next steps with digital engineering and Building Information Modelling (BIM), especially in the context of major capital and renewal projects.

VDAS is structured into three major documents:

1. VDAS Strategic Framework (released in 2019)

Provides an overarching direction and structure to government, industry and the public on the value of digital engineering. The framework highlights how information formats can be used as sources of data and how they can be leveraged to deliver value. The framework is presented in a management system format to enable for ‘data as an asset’ to be managed in a repeatable and scalable way to meet the objectives of any organisation.

2. VDAS Guidance (new release)

The VDAS guidance provides government stakeholders with detailed guidance, tools and templates to deliver effective digital information management.

3. VDAS Technical Guidance (release TBC)

VDAS technical guides are intended to provide direction using templates as well as assistance on creating, delivering and operating assets within a Digital Engineering environment.

The VDAS Guidance outlines what you need to do to get the most out of using your data as an asset to support strategic goals and decision making. Over three parts (Strategic, Organisational and Application) the guidance describes approaches, roles and responsibilities to deliver a VDAS compliant organisation within government.

Part 1: Strategic

The Strategic section of the VDAS Guidance places VDAS within the context of other legislation guidance and frameworks. Aligning VDAS with these allows for maximum benefit to be leveraged from digital assets through existing strategic priorities and outcomes. The section also defines the target audience at different points in the asset lifecycle and explains the role of the VDAS Champion in implementing VDAS in different organisations. This is a new role aimed at providing leadership, coordination, engagement and sponsorship to ensure successful updates of digital engineering within the organisation.

Part 2: Organisational

The Organisational section is aimed at the coal-face of asset managers. Those that are directly involved in ownership, operation, project delivery and portfolio management are provided with key information, tools and approaches for implementing effective data and information management to support the goals of VDAS across the asset lifecycle.

Part 3: Application

The application section covers the front-end, implementation, and handover phases of the asset lifecycle and is broken into seven sub-sections:

  1. Brief: This stage helps articulate an opportunity statement, and ensures that asset data requirements are integrated into the draft business case, brief and procurement approach.
  2. Concept: This stages begins gathering the Project Information Requirements (PIM) and begin engagement with designers and consultants.
  3. Definition: The definition stage accelerates the maturity of the project, increases the depth of information available and g proving certainty about the project solution. Senior stakeholders are engaged here and their buy-in ensured.
  4. Design: The PIM develops during this stage as the project contract is awarded and the delivery team mobilised. Information begins to flow form the project into established containers.
  5. Build and commissioning: The asset is constructed in this stage and the design PIM is used to facilitate construction and commissioning activities.
  6. Handover and closeout: Construction activities are completed and the transition to operations begins. Operations stakeholders take ownership of the information which supports the Asset Information Model (AIM).
  7. Operate and maintain: This stage is where an asset spends the bulk of its lifecycle and the information gathered is put to work informing renewals, replacements and other strategic decisions on the services the asset provides.

The VDAS is intended to represent a fundamental shift in the way asset information and data is specified, stored, delivered and utilised. The development of the VDAS represents a step change in both potential capability, as well as the expectations of stakeholders both internal and external. Using data to drive decision making has long been the norm, however the management of this data being systematic, specified and managed will be the next major step in this evolution. To support this change a new specified role of the VDAS Champion within agencies is envisaged to deliver a VDAS based approach and realise the benefits of DE. The VDAS Guidance provides job descriptions and roles and responsibilities for this role. The VDAS Champion is intended to lead the implementation of digital information management across the Victorian Government portfolio. How well placed are you to implement these changes? Treasury is recognising the challenge and is offering matched funding for these roles. This is to enable quick adoption of the VDAS principles and move Victoria forward as a digital engineering leader.

Deliver the right projects at the right time using data

The benefits of using data to deliver the right project at the right time are well documented, and data driven decision making forms the basis of most government business cases to some extent. The challenge is increasingly making sure that the required evidence is available to support the decisions. Whilst there has been an explosion of data and information available to decision makers, it is often of mixed quality, incompatible formats and can struggle to support the case being made.

This is a challenge to asset owners and custodians, who are often in the position of having to justify investment without the information they require to make defend the investment needed. VDAS intends to address this through identifying and managing the information being generated by assets across their lifecycle.

All stakeholders are consulted to ensure that their needs are being met through data management, and not just those of immediate operators or finance staff. This can then be leveraged to effectively inform business cases into the future, and support operational and strategic decision making about those assets. This will reduce the amount of inference, estimating and guesswork when creating funding and capital requests. With the right information on hand you can be sure of what you are requesting, and have the evidence available to back it up.

Data driven decision making during asset operation

The power of a VDAS based approach is most evident during the operational phase of an asset. Whilst previously the amount of information provided at handover has been limited to asset lists and basic maintenance schedules, operators are often left in the dark when it comes to more complex decision making and optioneering. They are seen as the people who replace things when they break, rather than having an integral role in optimising and influencing service delivery.

By deploying digital twin capabilities using VDAS, operators will have access to the information required to run complex scenarios on their asset base, so that the impact of their decisions, investment and service loads can be modelled and shared. This enables clear choices and accountabilities in these areas, and empowers decision makers with ability to see future demands balanced against operational realities.

The ready reckoner

So, how ready is your organisation to take the plunge into the world of digital assets? There are already pockets of high maturity in different departments and agencies, with those involved in asset intensive areas in the best position to move into a digital future. The launch of the VDAS Guidance and the matched funding from Treasury provides agencies and departments with an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and implement a digital asset strategy. Early adopters have the opportunity to reap the benefits as well as influence the conversation in the future, using their knowledge and experience as this approach becomes more embedded, and expected, by both Treasury and the public at large.

KPMG is here to help you on your digital engineering journey. We helped Treasury develop the VDAS Strategic Framework and Guidance, and with a dedicated Engineering and Asset Management practice of over 150 people, we can set you up for success as the world moves to a digitally enabled future. We specialise in the development of integrating digital and corporate strategy with needs of physical assets – ensuring that you expend resources in the right places to drive tangible results.

We have a range of products and approaches to suit your organisation, individual needs and level of maturity.

A strong start can be ensured for all use cases with a VDAS Data Readiness Assessment. This will quickly establish the information most important to your business, what you lack to drive targeted interventions and establish a rigorous, achievable improvement plan based on the realities of your business environment. Call today for a discussion with one of our VDAS specialists about your unique situation.