In an earlier article: Asset management strategy vs Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP) – A practical approach, we recommended that an organisations strategic approach to asset management be split between two documents:

  • An asset management strategy, which outlines the high level, strategic approach that the organisation takes to asset management. In other words, how it proposes to manage its assets
  • A Strategic Asset Management Plan, which contains the longer-term, higher level strategic initiatives that the organisation must take in order to execute its asset management strategy.

Taking this approach results in documents that are shorter in length and are:

  • Aimed at different audiences for different purposes, and therefore more likely to be used
  • Able to be more easily updated, and therefore more likely to be current and relevant.

In this article, we go into more detail regarding what a good asset management strategy document may look like. In another article, What Does a Good Strategic Asset Management Plan Look Like?, we discuss the key elements of a good Strategic Asset Management Plan. 

Asset management strategy vs Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)

The definition of the Strategic Asset Management Plan contained within ISO 55001 states that it is “documented information that specifies how organizational objectives are to be converted into asset management objectives, the approach for developing asset management plans, and the role of the asset management system in supporting achievement of the asset management objectives” (ISO 55000:2014 p.14 – emphasis added).

This suggests that the SAMP should specify how things are to be done, rather than what should be done. This is reinforced by statements in ISO 55000 that state that “The principles by which the organization intends applying asset management to achieve its organizational objectives should be set out in an asset management policy. The approach to implementing these principles should be documented in a strategic asset management plan (SAMP)” (ISO 55000:2014 p8).

ISO 55002 further reinforces this view by stating that “The SAMP details the asset management objectives, explains their relationship to the organizational objectives and the framework required to achieve the asset management objectives” (ISO 55002:2018 p.6).

This, to our (and most people’s) way of thinking is not the definition of a plan. It is, however, a pretty good definition of an asset management strategy. The confused thinking in ISO 55001 relating to the difference between a Strategy and a Strategic Plan is only highlighted by the notes in both ISO 55000 and ISO 55002 which state that “A strategic asset management plan can be referred to by other names, e.g. an asset management strategy” (ISO 55000:2014 p8), and “A SAMP can be referred to by other names, e.g. ‘asset management strategy’”(ISO 55002:2018 p.6). No wonder there is confusion among those trying to interpret ISO 55001.

We think it essential that you consider who will use the SAMP and/or asset management strategy and what they will use them for. Further, you should carefully consider the size of each document, and the amount of effort involved in updating them.

We find it helpful to visualise the difference between strategies and plans using the following diagram.

Diagram outlining the difference between strategies and plans
Figure 1. Differentiating strategy from plan

The asset management strategy plays an important role in the asset management document hierarchy. It builds on the organisation’s overall strategic approach to the way it delivers on its mission and vision and translates this into the supporting strategic approach to be adopted for asset management within the organisation.  This, in turn, provides guidance for supporting processes and procedures which describe how the strategic approach for asset management is to be realised within the business.

It is, therefore, a key communication tool, both upwards and downwards. Consequently, the asset management strategy will be “good” if it delivers the right information to the right people in the right way. Let’s look at each of these individually.

Having the “right information” includes ensuring that the strategic approach for asset management is aligned with the organisation’s overall strategy. This is mostly dependent on carving out an appropriate role for asset management strategy setting within the organisation’s overall strategy setting process. It is essential, therefore, that asset management has a seat at the table at a strategic level within the organisation. It also requires the asset management strategy to provide sufficient guidance for the development of supporting processes and procedures, as well as providing adequate guidance for the development of the Strategic Asset Management Plan. Both of these elements support delivery of the asset management strategy. 

While the “right people” will clearly vary with organisational structure, the users of the asset management strategy will include those both within, and external to, the asset management function. The most common users are:

  • Executives, who need to understand the strategic approach to asset management system, who need to have assurance that this approach is consistent with the organisation’s overall strategy, and who may be called upon to approve the asset management strategy.
  • Technical and/or Asset managers, who may need to develop or modify asset management processes and procedures, and who will also be involved in developing the Strategic Asset Management Plan
  • Other managers (administration, finance, human resources, learning and development, procurement and project), who need to understand the asset management system and what they need to deliver to support it

Delivering the information in the “right way” relates to the method of delivery. The key is to ensure that the document is presented in a way that lets the “right people” get the information they need, which implies a short, readable document that clearly lays out the strategic approach to asset management in an way that is easy to understand, yet with enough background to understand why this strategic approach has been taken.

Compliance requirements and guidance

Since ISO 55000 conflates both asset management strategy and Strategic Asset Management Plan into one document, we need to understand the ISO 55001 requirements that may relate to the asset management strategy. Surprisingly, we find that the standard does not actually require very much of the asset management strategy at all. In fact, it only specifically requires documentation of the role of the asset management system in delivering the asset management objectives (ISO, 2014b, p.2). There is an implied requirement in clause 4.3, which requires the scope of the asset management system to be aligned with the SAMP (ISO 55001:2014, p.2) and therefore implies that the AM Strategy must provide a basis for this.

There are also two other items that are required by ISO 55001 as documented information and are therefore candidates for inclusion in the asset management strategy (ISO 55001:2014, pp. 4-5). These include:

  • The method and criteria for decision making and prioritising
  • The processes and methods for managing assets over their life cycles

Overall, however, there is little guidance on the content of an asset management strategy within ISO 55001.

The 2018 version of ISO 55002 provides more detailed guidance and recommendations regarding the content of the SAMP in Annex C (ISO 55002:2018, pp. 51-55). This includes a recommended list of 18 individual content elements, some with sub-elements that include the following:

  • an overview of the organization’s context, i.e. external and internal issues
  • the role of the asset management system in enabling the achievement of asset management objectives, and in turn organizational objectives
  • the approach for implementing the asset management policy
  • decision-making criteria

Asset management strategy – suggested table of contents

While we will call this document an asset management strategy, it could also incorporate elements of what others may call an asset management framework. As indicated previously, the intent behind this document is that it describes how asset management is performed within the organisation. Its possible contents include the following:

  • Scope and purpose of the document – what it covers, what it is intended to be used for, and who its intended audience is

  • Scope of the asset management system – the boundaries around the asset management system to which this strategy applies: e.g. what assets or asset management processes
  • Organisational context – enough information regarding the organisation and its operational context to allow the reader to understand why it has chosen to manage its assets in the way that it has. This may include brief discussion of the following:
    • Organisational Strategy
    • Stakeholder needs (regulators, customers, staff, owners…)
    • High level view of the asset portfolio and capability – its role in contributing to the achievement of organisational objectives
    • Internal and External Constraints
  • Strategic approach to asset management – a high level outline of the broad, strategic approach that the organisation takes for managing its assets. This could include describing the nature of the Asset Management activities that the organisation wishes to undertake itself vs outsource, and almost certainly will include reference to the Asset Management Policy – the guiding principles for Asset Management for the organisation.
  • Asset management decision making – how decisions are made regarding Asset Management including:
    • How strategic asset management objectives are developed and cascaded down to lower levels
    • How the SAMP, Asset Management Plans and Asset Life Cycle Plans are developed
    • Asset Management Decision making criteria and processes
  • Asset management processes – an outline of the key processes that form your Asset Management system, their scope and purpose and how the processes relate to one another. This could include:
    • Asset Lifecycle Processes
    • Risk Management Processes
    • etc.

Ideally, for clarity and brevity, relationships between processes should be presented in a graphical format, and links included to the relevant processes. The detailed processes should exist as separate documents.

In summarising all of the above, we believe that a “good” asset management strategy has the following key characteristics:

  • Driven by and consistent with the organisation’s overall approach to achieving its Mission and Vision
  • Clearly describes, at a high level, how asset management is to be performed in order to deliver on asset management objectives
  • Provides an easily understood, preferably pictorial, representation of the organisation’s asset management system or framework
  • Does not include strategic initiatives required to improve asset management within the organisation – these should be included within the Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)
  • Is linked to, and consistent with, the Strategic Asset Management Plan
  • Links to and summarises details of supporting Processes and Procedures, but does not repeat their contents within this document
  • Is clearly communicated to all relevant stakeholders
  • Forms the basis for asset management improvement activities throughout the organisation

How can Assetivity help?

We have helped many organisations to align and certify their asset management systems and associated documentation with the requirements of ISO 55001:2014. Our practical approach helps clients move beyond compliance and allows them to deliver greater business value through more effective and efficient asset management.

If you would like help to create an asset management strategy for your organisation, contact us now.

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