What is PAS 55?

This article discusses the British Standards Institute's Publically Available Specification 55 (PAS 55), including its history, content and application.

History & Content

Firstly, PAS 55 is actually a two part document, with full titles as follows:

  • PAS 55-1:2008 Specification for the optimized management of physical assets
  • PAS 55-2:2008 Guidelines for the application of PAS 55-1

The first version of PAS 55 was published in 2004 in response to issues arising from the privatisation of the utilities and transport sectors in the United Kingdom. In particular, some significant asset failures with serious failure consequences called into question whether the asset management systems in place adequately safeguarded the longer term integrity and safety of the privatised assets. As the discipline of asset management developed, issues with this version began to appear and a full revision was released in 2008. The 2008 version remains current as of writing and is the focus of the remainder of this article.

As a publicly available specification, PAS 55 is technically a step below a British Standard and a couple of steps below an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard. PAS 55 has, however, had the physical asset management area to itself for most of its ten years of existence and has therefore been widely adopted as a de facto international standard. It provides guidance on how to build an asset management system that will support optimal management of physical assets. Key features are:

  • 28 requirements for a suitable management system for physical assets, the absence of any of which would constitute a "deficiency" regardless of the industry
  • Linkage to the accepted Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle to support successful implementation and alignment with other standards
  • A clear but broadly applicable generic model for a suitable system

The 28 requirements are arranged into the following groups:

  • General requirements - a separate section for key requirements, such as the need to control outsourced asset management activities
  • Asset management policy – requirements for the head document of an asset management system
  • Asset management strategy, objectives and plans – requirements for the core documents that identify and deliver improvements for both the assets and the management system
  • Asset management enablers and controls – requirements for people, processes and data to effectively manage the system
  • Implementation of asset management plan(s) – requirements for the execution and control of "life cycle activities" and management of the tools, facilities and equipment as required to deliver the asset management plan(s) – NOTE – this is a short section, reflecting the PAS 55 focus on the management system rather than the assets
  • Performance assessment and improvement – requirements to audit, measure and otherwise monitor the asset management system, as well as to identify and manage the actions required to improve it
  • Management review – specific requirements for top management to monitor the performance of the system and take action as required to correct it

The introduction of PAS 55 has been primarily instrumental in establishing the following concepts as pillars of "good" asset management:

  • Line of sight – the concept that there must be direct alignment from the organisation's strategic goals to the actions taken to manage the assets
  • Life cycle management – the concept that assets must be managed across their entire life cycle to optimally achieve the organisation's objectives


Some regulators – particularly in the UK – recommend accreditation to PAS 55 as evidence of appropriate asset management practice. Most organisations, however, are free to ignore or embrace the document as they choose. The key benefits of adopting PAS 55 as the basis for an organisation's Asset Management system may be summarised as:

  • Establishing clear line of site and alignment of an organisation's overall strategic goals with the actions being performed on assets
  • Providing a mechanism for considering short term decisions in the context of longer-term asset integrity and performance requirements
  • Providing a framework to facilitate collaboration and alignment between functional silos
  • Ensuring that all factors impacting on asset decision making are adequately considered prior to making decisions
  • Providing an audit trail for asset decisions that meets the requirements of regulators and other third party stakeholders
  • Alignment with a well-defined and globally accepted standard

In addition, PAS 55 and the Institute of Asset Management provide excellent support tools, including competency frameworks, training curricula (and training provided via endorsed trainers, of which Assetivity is one). It also provides a free tool on the IAM's website (www.theiam.org) which can be used for either self-assessment or external audit.

Although it originated primarily in the utilities and transport sectors, the concepts are universal, and PAS 55 is applicable to almost any industry.

While certification may be required for some organisations, the benefits listed above can be realised without the need for formal certification. Consequently, for most organisations we recommend that they use PAS 55 as the basis for benchmarking their Asset Management systems, and that they seek alignment of their asset management system with its requirements. Formal certification may not be required in most instances.

ISO 55000 and the Future of PAS 55

In 2010, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) commenced development of its own suite of standards for Asset Management – ISO 5500X. This took PAS 55 as one of its major inputs, and the Institute of Asset Management, as well as many other similar organisations worldwide, participated in the development of this standard. This culminated in the publication of ISO 5500X in January 2014.

Following the publication of ISO 5500X (actually ISO 55000, ISO 55001 and ISO 55002), the British Standards Institute has announced that PAS 55 will be superseded and formally withdrawn in January 2015, 12 months after the release of ISO 5500X. During this transition period, organisations can choose to certify against either ISO 55001 or PAS 55.  After January 2015, organisations that have been formally certified against PAS 55 will need to transition their certification to ISO 55000, but there is no need for them to be significantly concerned about this. ISO 55000 is a higher level, and therefore more generic, document, but its roots in PAS 55 show clearly, and mapping a PAS 55 compliant system to the new standard is a relatively simple exercise with few changes required. The British Standards Institute, in conjunction with the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) have also assisted by publishing a free guide to transitioning from PAS 55 to ISO 55000.

For more information on ISO 55000, see What is ISO 55000?


Scott Yates

Assetivity, Principal Consultant

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