Documenting your SAMP

What should I put in a strategic asset management plan (SAMP)?

Do I need a SAMP?

If you already had an asset management strategy, why do you need a SAMP?

You may find that your existing asset management strategy is just fine as a SAMP. You don’t even need to change the name – you can call it anything you want. However, you will probably find that you can bring a lot of extra value to your organisation by refreshing the strategic planning level of your asset management system.

Here are some tips to help you to do this.


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Our advice is DON’T jump straight into making a document. The standard says that the SAMP should be documentation of the role of the asset management system in achieving asset management objectives, so it’s definitely a document for people to refer to. Many people get stressed and fixated on a document, but it’s more about developing principles, a framework and the capability to achieve your objectives. Remember the SAMP is meant to answer the question “how is our asset management system going to be used to achieve our asset management objectives”. Documentation will help in consolidating, communicating and codifying the information but it’s what it says that’s more important.

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5 common mistakes in developing a SAMP

Image by B Rosen

We often come across these issues during certification audits:

1. Making a manual that just describes your whole asset management system, but doesn’t say how it’s going to achieve asset management objectives

2. Documenting how you comply with each element or clause of ISO 55001 and saying it’s your SAMP

3. Creating a SAMP that is just details of this year’s plans for groups of assets

4. Unrealistically defining exactly what your strategy, objectives and detailed plans are for the next 20 years

5. Thinking of the SAMP as a one-off documentation event rather than part of a strategic planning process.

Ideas for creating your SAMP

10 useful tips

1. Don’t get stressed and anxious. Developing the SAMP is a logical process, which should be interesting to be involved in. It should be really beneficial to the organization and its stakeholders.

2. Work with people from all relevant parts of the organization – we are talking about high level strategy here, so a team approach is called for. Plus you need buy-in to the SAMP when it’s developed.

3. Take a long term view. Your strategic planning has to work for the present but it also must allow the organisation to be successful in the future. Work with at least three possible scenarios – can your strategy cope with all of them (see the notes about strategies for the future)

4. Focus on making all the parts of the asset management system integrated and aligned with each other.5. Start from the organization context, get a handle on the internal and external issues. How much is already identified? Don’t re-invent the wheel, but make sure everyone knows what values, priorities and objectives are driving the business.

6. Make sure you identify all the relevant stakeholders, not just customers. Consider their requirements and expectations – these could have a huge impact on the way you evaluate the importance of certain assets.

7. You need to show strong alignment from the organizational objectives into the asset management system. Is there already a long term business plan, corporate strategy, key objectives?

8. The policy should be related to these objectives, and set out the principles by which you are going to achieve them through asset management. Those principles then have to be embedded into the SAMP and asset management system.

9. The SAMP should show the link from the organizational objectives to the asset management objectives. Remember you are  documenting the role of the asset management system in supporting achievement of the asset management objectives. Be practical and think about specific objectives or outcomes that the business is committed to. What do these mean for asset management strategic planning? Are there different scenarios for demand or technology, if so how do you cope with these in your asset planning decision making? 

10. A useful SAMP will describe the framework that you use to achieve the asset management objectives – structures, responsibilities, decision making principles and criteria. What are the processes to use good decision making criteria and methods to deliver on the objectives? How are you going to update your strategy and plans as the future becomes clearer? What are the uncertainties and how will you handle the risks associated with them?

Where to put your strategy, objectives and plans

Let’s start by reminding ourselves what asset management is all about. The ISO 55000 standard says it is “coordinated activity of an organization to realise value from assets”. It also helpfully mentions that value is defined in terms of how something contributes to the organization’s objectives.

So we need to create a system where the organization’s key objectives can be traced into the asset management objectives, and the SAMP information states how these are going to be achieved by the asset management system.

ISO 55001 states that asset management objectives should be established and updated “as part of the SAMP”. The guidance in ISO 55002 says that the asset management objectives should be “in the SAMP”. Some organisations create one SAMP document that includes asset management objectives; others create a set of  interlinked SAMP documented information, including asset management objectives (often in digital format). Just remember objectives are live information, so when they change, you need to review the rest of the SAMP information to keep it relevant. And remember you must keep documented information on them.

You must make sure there’s a clear alignment from them “up” into the organisation objectives and “down” into the SAMP. 

The more detailed plans for the different asset systems or groups can be in separate documents or processes. For a smaller organisation, you may be able to keep everything together in one place, although this can make for a complicated document. Just make sure the plans align with the principles, methods and  strategic direction in the SAMP.

In most organizations, the different asset systems are highly inter-dependant and their respective plans don’t really work unless they are integrated at some level. So it’s common to see a top-level master plan that maps the inter-connections.

Make the SAMP work for you

Create a SAMP that is going to give a lot of value to the business.

Don’t write a document that is mainly intended to satisfy the ISO 55001 standard.

Depending on the size and complexity of your organization, your SAMP can be comprehensive or it can be relatively simple and short.

Just make sure that it describes how the above things fit together so that you can support the organisation’s business objectives, through well planned asset management activities.

Strategies for the future

It would be great if we could create a SAMP that was a document showing the perfect plan for the future ahead. However for nearly all organizations, this is just not realistic. We can’t know the future, so we just have to do our very best at preparing for what we reasonably expect, while making sure we can adapt to what could happen.

Here’s part of a quote from Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke, the great Prussian military leader (1871): “One cannot be at all sure that any operational plan will survive the first encounter with the main body of the enemy”

)Neatly summarised by the boxer Mike Tyson (October 1987): “Everybody has plans until they get hit”

However, this does not mean that don’t need a strategy! von Moltke continues: “Certainly the commander in chief will keep his great objective continually in mind, undisturbed by the vicissitudes of events. But the path by which he hopes to achieve it can never be firmly established in advance.”

Final quote –  Sun Tzu, The Art of War (6th Century BC): “The general who wins a battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses a battle makes but few calculations.”

So you definitely need a strategic asset management plan with long-term objectives, but it has to be flexible. The process of identifying the context of the organization should give you a good understanding of the key issues and drivers now and also what you anticipate in the future. Use this to build a realistic and suitable strategic asset management plan.

1. Use a logical approach to develop a SAMP given what we know today

2. Accept that the SAMP is part of a process, not a static document

3. Identify possible scenarios for the future and allow for them in the SAMP

4. Accept that some options and decisions may need to be kept open until the future become clearer – for example lifetime requirements for assets

5. Establish principles, frameworks and capabilities that allow the organization to continually adjust strategies, objectives and plans

6. Make sure your risk management framework is able to identify uncertainties and make these visible to decision-makers so that they can handle the risk in a planned way.

We can help you

We help our clients to develop and implement non-bureaucratic management systems that are aligned with their objectives.

If you want to talk about your SAMP, or anything else, please Contact Us.

In addition to our tips, I would also advise you to buy a copy of the excellent guidance published by the Institute of Asset Management: “Developing and maintaining a Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)”. It’s part of the very useful IAM Handbook series.