What is an asset management plan?

This article looks at arguably the most important documents in any asset management system – the plans that capture the actions to be taken on each asset.

An asset management plan is one of the core documents in an asset management system. PAS 55 establishes the following generic hierarchy for such documents:

AM PLAN Image2

Note that names of the documents are not important – many organisations call asset management plans “whole of life plans” or “asset plans” and this does not affect their asset management performance. Content is far more important and should include the following:

  • Asset description – information clearly establishing what assets the plan covers, what these assets do and how this is important
  • Levels of service – the performance/cost/risk objectives the asset must satisfy in order to deliver the higher level strategy, as well as the current performance against these targets (noting any gaps or issues)
  • Life cycle strategies – the arrangements for acquisition, operation, maintenance and disposal of the asset (noting any gaps or issues)
  • Budget – a comparison of the allocated and required resources (again, highlighting any gaps)
  • Risks – an analysis of the risks to achievement of the levels of service over the long term (largely arising from the identified gaps and issues)
  • Actions – planned actions to close level of service gaps and control risks, including timeframes and resources

The value in this type of document comes from the mere fact of writing it as well as subsequent use. Preparation allows the asset management to identify any uncertainty around the expectations for the asset (for example, it is common for the expected life of an asset and the triggers for retirement to be poorly defined). Once prepared, the document becomes the single point of truth for its contents and can be used to communicate this across the organisation. For example, the plan will show the accountants the on-going maintenance budget needs, show the project managers the likely timing of the next project and show managers of interfacing assets when they can expect a change in the interface. Perhaps most critically, it shows the executive the level of risk inherent in the asset and the robustness of the associated controls.

Development of an asset management plan

It can be seen from the above that the process for generating asset management plans must deliver line of sight (one of the pillars of asset management as discussed in our “What is Asset Management?” article) from the agreed organisational objectives to the specific levels of service levied on a particular asset or asset class. Further, if the plan is to be achievable and optimised at the organisational level, there must be an iterative process of refining the objectives and the actions. A suitable planning process is illustrated in the following diagram:

A diagram describing a common approach to ISO 55001 compliant asset management planning, where organisational objectives are linked to asset management objectives

Tips and Tricks


Many physical assets are complicated things and there is often a sense that the plans for managing them should also be complex – and long! There is clearly a need to capture the technical details of an asset, but the plan is not the place. Remember that the audience includes non-technical parts of the organisation and follow these rules: 

  • Keep it short
  • Make it visual
  • Reference the details for those who want them

The first time

There is a real “chicken and egg” problem with getting into asset planning – how can you write a plan without objectives from the strategy and how can you write a strategy without plans to tell you what’s possible? There is no perfect answer, so just pick a point in the process that works for you. Asset management is a continuous improvement process, so you’ll have a chance to fix whatever you get wrong in the next round! 

A living document

Don’t forget to keep your asset management plans “alive” – they do no good (and may even do harm) if they are left on the shelf and become out of date. In addition to regular review, the plans should be updated whenever a significant event occurs affecting the content.

Good luck and happy planning!

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