Create a great asset management policy

Have you been given the job of writing the asset management policy?

  • Want to create a great asset management policy?
  • Wondering what to put in and leave out?
  • Not sure if the policy will be OK during an assessment?
  • Taking ages, going round in circles?
  • Worried about the implications of getting it wrong?

Read our helpful guidance – written by our experienced ISO 55001 certification auditors

Why is the right policy so important?

The policy statement is going to be really important, so you need one that will work for your organization. This is why:

1 If you are considering external certification, the external auditor(s) will be very interested in your policy statement. They will want to verify that it meets all the requirements in the relevant clause (5.2). Our certification Auditors have made a useful guide on these below.

2 More importantly, the policy (as defined in ISO 55000) is the “intentions and direction of an organization as formally expressed by its top management”. Whatever is communicated by the policy statement is going to influence the way asset management activities are carried out now and in the future.

3 If the policy isn’t a completely true reflection of the intentions and directions that top management have committed themselves to, there will be a bumpy road ahead. Real-world decisions and actions by management will conflict with what is stated in the policy, causing disillusion and cynicism in the organisation.

4 The policy sits at the top level of the asset management system. It has to be consistent with the wider organization plan and objectives, and the asset management system has to be aligned with the policy. That way, everyone can have visibility that both long-term asset management plans as well as day-to-day activities are delivering on the objectives of the organization. If there are clashes and inconsistencies, people could see this as evidence that you are not serious, or it just won’t work.

Here are some tips to create a great asset management policy:

1 Top management have to establish the asset management policy. They are the people who are responsible for deciding on the direction the organization should be going in. Make sure they are fully involved. Get their knowledge and experience. More importantly, get in touch with their real intentions and make sure that they are committed to what goes into the policy. They need to be invested. They need to own the policy. This will pay big dividends later, if the going gets tough.

2 Read the standard (clause 5.2). It’s actually a useful checklist. You don’t have to use the same words, or put things in the same order. But cover all the points (we will go through these in a section below).

3 Why not map it out with the team before knocking the words into a nice one-pager? Get a big piece of paper, maybe a pile of sticky notes. Can you take into account to the organisation’s purpose, it’s plans, objectives? Think about possible future scenarios – will this policy make you successful in the world that is coming?

4 Don’t think in a linear way. The policy can emerge as you work out your asset management objectives and your strategic asset management plan (SAMP). Go back and reverse-engineer the policy so that they all work together. Go around a few times until you are happy. Everything must fit together without inconsistencies. You are aiming for a coherent “line of sight” that goes from the organisation objectives, into the asset management policy, then into the asset management objectives and SAMP. This will steer all the plans and activities in the right direction in a consistent way.

5 Think of the policy as a communication tool. Make the wording easy to understand by everyone in the organisation. Use internal language. Make it a bit aspiring and energising but avoid unrealistic lofty management-speak. Try to get it reasonably short and impactful – you are going to bring this message to everyone.

The requirements of ISO 55001 clause 5.2 Policy, and what they mean

(The bits in italics are the actual requirements)

Top management shall establish an asset management policy…

When it says “Top management shall establish”, it means that top management (person or group of people who directs and controls an organisation) have to establish the policy. No giving the job to someone and forgetting about it. External auditors will ask for evidence of them establishing it – minutes of meetings, records of them discussing it, notes in their notebooks, whatever is actually used. OK, maybe a signature on the policy itself might do it – but you can do better, right?

that:

  • is appropriate to the purpose of the organization;

You need to think about the purpose of the organization and make sure you get a policy that is right for you. Don’t mirror a policy from a different organization that has a different purpose.

  • provides a framework for setting asset management objectives;

Think about the decision-makers who will be setting asset management objectives – they need a framework to guide them now and in the future. Do you need to state some must-have criteria? Set out the main principles to be followed? Link to key stakeholders’ expectations or deliverables?

  • includes a commitment to satisfy applicable requirements;

Make sure you clearly state that the organization is committed to comply with applicable requirements. You can specifically refer to legal requirements, but this commitment has to be to all applicable requirements. You could say what they are, but it’s often more practical to have this information available outside the policy.

  • includes a commitment to continual improvement of the asset management system;

Say (in your own words) that the organisation is committed to/will have processes to achieve continual improvement of the asset management system. Don’t say continuous, it means you never stop, night and day. Don’t say you will continually improve your assets – it’s just not realistic, unless you can show that you really do have plans to make unlimited investments.

The asset management policy shall;

When it says “the policy shall”, it means that top management don’t have to personally do this themselves, but they have to ensure it is done and by the right people.

  • be consistent with the organizational plan;

We already talked about this, right? You need to be able to show a clear consistency from the organization’s plans and objectives into the policy.

  • be consistent with other relevant organizational policies;

Ideally, your asset management system will be integrated with other systems including environment, health, safety, risk and finance. If these are still managed separately, you need to check for any inconsistencies and resolve them. If the asset management system says to do something one way, but the safety system says do it a different way, that’s going to be a big problem. People just want clear information about how to do provide a great service, looking after our assets and the environment, while keeping everyone safe.

  • be appropriate to the nature and scale of the organization’s assets and operations;

Be realistic and think about the types of assets, the standard of service you will deliver and the operational constraints. Don’t copy a policy from a larger or different organisation.

  • be available as documented information;

We are definitely talking about a policy that is documented. But what does that actually mean? Read our FAQ in this subject in the FAQ section.

  • be communicated within the organization;

So there’s a copy pinned on notice boards. But is anyone reading it? Think about how communication is happening, or should happen. Include it in training and induction, briefings, newsletters, intranet. Give it to suppliers. Use the adage “tell them a million times”. Don’t expect everyone to recite the policy – you want everyone to understand the main principles, believe in them, and deliver on them in their work. External auditors will be impressed if people articulate the actual meaning of the policy ideas in their own language, as it applies to their work.

  • be available to stakeholders, as appropriate;

This means making the policy available, in the right way to the right people – especially if they ask for it. It does not mean you have to send the policy to everyone, whether they want it or not. If you have PR professionals in the company, now is the time to get friendly with them. They can field requests about the policy and give out the right information. They can add the policy dissemination into the communications plan. If you don’t have a PR team, you need to identify who is going to identify stakeholders and make the policy available. Remember that stakeholders include the supply chain, so include how you will make the policy available to service providers, contractors or partners.

  • be implemented and be periodically reviewed and, if required, updated.

This is where the involvement and commitment of top management pays off. The policy is going to be implemented, because top management own it and they are going to make sure it is happening and that everyone complies with it. The policy must be reviewed to check if it’s still suitable, especially if the organization plan changes or as the future scenarios become clearer. “Periodically reviewed” means it is done at regular intervals – you decide what these are, taking into account the changing internal and external issues.

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