Asset Management: 7 steps to success – build your roadmap
How the steps are organised
We’ve used the common ISO structure for this guidance to help you to implement asset management.
We’ve organised our 7 steps in the same way as ISO 55001 (and other management system standards) are designed. This is to help you get a feel for this logical approach — and because it works pretty well!
We have made the 7 steps into a useful asset management action plan. You can use this to build your roadmap, or as the basis for a more advanced project plan.
About the structure
The ISO 55001 standard was one of the first to be developed under the new ISO “Annex SL” protocol. All ISO management system standards are (or will be) drafted under a “template” that consists of 8 harmonised clauses and 4 appendices that provide a “high level structure”, plus shared terms and definitions, with even the same wording in some cases. This is quite useful for organisations that use multiple management system models, such as environment, health & safety, quality and asset management. It helps with integration, a common vocabulary and streamlined systems.
- Asset Management: 7 steps to success – build your roadmap
- Step 1. Context
- Step 2. Leadership
- Top management — leadership and commitment
- Sell the benefits to your organisation
- Alignment with the organisation objectives
- Integration into business planning and processes
- Roles and responsibilities
- Top management role
- Project board/steering group
- Project manager
- Other roles
- Step 3. Planning
- Step 4. Support
- Step 5. Managing the project
- Step 6. Performance evaluation
- Step 7. Improvement
Step 1. Context
The organisation context and objectives
ISO 55000 defines asset management as: “coordinated activity of an organization to realise value from assets”. The project must have a focus on realising value — in other words, contributing to achievement of the organisation’s objectives.
The organisation requires assets to achieve these objectives and to deliver its plans. The implementation team must take several factors into account when thinking about the significance of assets, and the way the assets are managed. These can be summarised as:
- The nature and purpose of the organization
- Its operating context
- Its financial constraints and legal and regulatory requirements
- The needs and expectations of the organization and its stakeholders.
Understanding the needs and expectations of stakeholders will be an important part of the asset management system. For the implementation project, the needs and constraints of internal stakeholders are also critical. You will be able to prevent many avoidable obstacles and unforeseen objections by taking stakeholders into account in the project planning, and building a co-operative cross-functional approach.
An asset is an “Item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organization”. This means that you have to think about what assets will be included in your asset management system, and should be considered in the implementation project.
That “value to an organization” can be financial or non-financial and may vary between different organisations. This means that, in addition to physical assets, some intangible assets such as know-how, supply-chain alliances, software and intellectual property can also be managed in a way that meets recognised asset management standards. You may need to think about how this affects the scope of your asset management system and the implementation project. It will have a significant impact on the policy, strategic approach, and the processes that will be included.
Part of the scoping exercise should also be the clarification of the project objectives, including time-scales, milestones and measureable outcomes. These can be established and monitored by a project board or steering group (see below).
You should also start thinking about whether you want external certification, or alternatively, if you intend to use the standard as a model but not apply for certification. Read our FAQ on this subject (“Do I need certification?”).
Asset management system – gap assessment
You really need to carry out a gap assessment — this will answer the question “We have an asset management system, but where are the gaps that we need to address?” The outputs from this assessment will form the basis of your project plan.
You have three main options:
- Read the requirements in ISO 55001, make a checklist, and carry out a gap assessment
- Commission an external consultant to carry out a gap assessment
- Commission an assessment using the ISO 55001 Self Assessment Methodology (SAM) tool (Developed by the Institute of Asset Management). This tool goes beyond a gap assessment to provide a maturity score in each area, but the amount of time and resource to complete it should not be under-estimated.
It is possible that internal audit resources may be available to assist in this task, as they should be familiar with the assessment process. However, a suitable level of competence in ISO 55001 requirements would be important.
We can help you with gap assessment and SAM assessment, as well as any necessary training. Find out more here: Gap assessment and Training for assessment and auditing.
Step 2. Leadership
Top management — leadership and commitment
One of our key tips is that top management have to be committed to the project. They may already have made their unshakeable commitment totally clear — if so, that’s a huge advantage. In any case, you can promote this essential support by showing how the project and the benefits are fully aligned with their own priorities and objectives. This is the key to engagement, buy-in and ownership.
Sell the benefits to your organisation
You can expect several benefits from implementing optimised life-cycle asset management:
- Enhanced corporate governance and risk management
- Effective management of capital investment and maintenance programmes
- Improved delivery of capital investment programmes
- Increased efficiency and effectiveness of operation and maintenance of the assets
- Stronger control and clearer relationships in framework or alliance contractual arrangements
- Disciplined long-term planning with improved performance and availability
- Robust decision making, planning and expenditure control with auditable information and risk inputs
- Protection and enhancement of investor asset value and organisation reputation
- Enhanced customer satisfaction as a result of effective performance and control of product or service processes
- Improved environmental, health and safety and financial performance
- Compliance with legal, regulatory and other requirements.
These are very compelling messages for top management, which should help to maximise their engagement and support.
You may not yet have a clear schedule of all the resources that will be needed, but there must be an acceptance that initial resources for the project are needed. Many of the people resources will be made available by assigning responsibilities and tasks to existing functions and roles, but additional resources will be needed for internal and external services, training, and possibly additional information systems.
Top management have specific requirements under ISO 55001 and they must be ready to play their part in establishing the management system, and promoting asset management principles and concepts as described in the standard. This should be built into the project planning. The requirements are listed in clause 5.1 of ISO 55001. We can advise you on how to interpret these, and what kind of evidence is required for external certification.
Alignment with the organisation objectives
ISO 55000 also says that adopting the standards:
“… enables an organization to achieve its objectives through the effective and efficient management of its assets. The application of an asset management system provides assurance that these objectives can be achieved consistently and sustainably over time.” ISO9000/2014
Therefore, the whole project should be aligned to the organisation’s objectives. The objectives should be clearly identified so that a clear “line of sight” can be maintained into policy, asset management objectives and strategy. If this information is not available, or not clear to the implementation team, it will be difficult to make decisions about the direction and deliverables of the project.
Integration into business planning and processes
The project team should ensure that asset management system requirements are aligned and integrated into the organisation’s business processes. This means that existing business processes, and the respective people involved, should be included in the project as necessary. These could include a whole range of processes, such as:
- Stakeholder engagement
- Business and financial planning
- Risk framework
- Capital programme and project governance
- Operation and maintenance
- Talent and competence management
- Performance framework
- Information systems governance
- Management information
A co-ordinated holistic approach that informs and includes colleagues from these disciplines will give the best foundations for a successful implementation.
It’s a good idea to develop an outline of the main principles of your asset management policy at an early stage. Top management must be involved in establishing the policy. This will allow you to start communicating about concepts, principles, and alignment with organisation strategy and objectives.
Read our guidance on this subject (“Create a great asset management policy”).
Roles and responsibilities
The extent of roles, responsibilities and people resources that are needed will depend on the size of your organisation and the complexity of the management system to be established. In most cases, the following specific roles will be needed although the level of formality and the time commitment will vary between different organisations.
Top management role
Top management have to ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned. They can assign the project lead role and responsibility to anyone suitable – this does not have to be a top management role, but it is immensely helpful if there is a member of the top management team who has an assigned brief and provides a regular communication line into the top team.
Project board/steering group
It’s a great idea to set up a governance structure that includes a project board or steering group with appropriate defined terms of reference. This topic is covered in more detail in the performance evaluation section below.
A project really needs an assigned project manager, who has the right competence, responsibility and authority to provide continuous oversight of the project plan, while handling interfaces with other disciplines and sub-projects.
As the asset management system is progressively developed, the expectations on other people throughout the organisation will be identified. It is part of the ISO 55001 approach that responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned, and that top management demonstrate leadership and commitment by communicating, directing and promoting the required support and engagement.
Step 3. Planning
Risk and opportunity management
The approach used for managing risk in asset management must be aligned with the organisation’s risk framework. It’s an important principle that this concept is built into the implementation project from the start. It’s problematic if the asset management risk framework is developed independently, and later has to be re-configured to align into the corporate or enterprise-level risk framework.
ISO 55001 is a risk-based model that ensures that asset management processes provide real benefits in managing the organisation’s risks and opportunities. Visibility of how asset related risk is aligned to corporate level business risk will provide the right environment for board-level and executive management support.
Good project management practice includes identification and handling of project risks and opportunities. This should be built into the governance and reporting arrangements.
Asset management project objectives should be identified at an early stage, and these should be approved by the project board or steering group. This will allow monitoring of the project’s progress against known, measureable milestones and performance measures. Lack of clear, approved, measureable objectives is often the cause of implementation projects that run out of steam and get displaced by other pressing issues and priorities.
The project plan should be integrated with the organisation’s wider strategy, plans, investment proposals, key issues, and any other transformation projects. In many case, good co-ordination can provide synergy and avoid overloading people with multiple initiatives.
Once you have good information about the context of the organisation and the gap assessment, you are ready to build your project plan. The extent of the plan will depend on the needs of the organisation and the complexity of the project. A simple plan is often very effective – for example a table or spreadsheet with a list of the actions required, the action owner, outcomes required, targets, resources and progress status.
Some organisations like to use a responsibility assignment matrix or RACI chart – the acronym comes from the four key responsibilities most typically used: Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed.
In larger, more complex organisations a full project management structure is often necessary, supported by detailed Gantt charts.
The project plan should systematically address the gaps that were identified in the gap assessment, taking care to handle the logical order and inter-dependencies of the management system elements that need to be developed. In addition to the planning for these management system elements, it’s essential to think about the change process itself. Just sitting in an office and writing documents is not going to be enough. You need to include the necessary actions to support the change process in a coherent and logical way. The most important areas for your change plan are covered in the next section – Support.
Step 4. Support
Resources will be needed for the project to establish and implement the asset management system, and after that for maintaining and continually improving it. It’s essential that the need for resourcing is recognised and planned for, since financial, human resource and information systems planning can’t be done as an afterthought. The right resources need to be identified on a short, medium and long-term basis, so that they can be accommodated in the business plans.
Most organisations arrange staged resourcing, building flowcharts or “swim lanes” that help to identify financial, people and information needs at the different stages of the initial implementation process and thereafter for a “business as usual” level.
The earliest stages are easier to plan out in some detail, while the longer-term resourcing is usually more broad-brush and flexible.
Asset management—“coordinated activity of an organisation to realise value from assets” —is going to depend on people in every functional area, at every level, having the right competence to play their part effectively. The organisation has to identify the competencies that are needed, and ensure that these are acquired. This applies to the project team in the first instance – a strong project team will bring in existing expertise from the organisation, providing professionalism and also locating ambassadors in important functions, such as human resources, finance, risk and audit, planning, operation and maintenance.
The need for different competencies and people resources will vary at different stages, so a flowchart or swim lanes analysis is a good planning tool.
The Institute of Asset Management (IAM) has created a Competences Framework as well as a useful list of 39 asset management subjects mapped against the roles and competencies in the Global Forum for Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM) landscape. Access the document here.
If you can call on the support of your human resources team, they will be the ideal people to adapt competence frameworks, training plans and role definitions.
Competence management applies to internal employees and also outsourced service providers and contractors.
We can support you with advice, guidance, awareness briefings and training services for your project team, senior management, operational management and employees at every level. We can also provide specialist asset management training for auditors to carry out gap assessments, maturity scoring, supplier and internal auditing. More information is here.
Awareness is raised by planned communication activities, but also by a number of other channels including training and induction, as well as the behaviour, informal direction and influence of managers.
The project plan must include the necessary activities that will be used to ensure the right level of awareness.
Both internal and external people who do work for the organisation can have an impact on the achievement of the asset management objectives. These people must be aware of:
- The asset management policy
- The contribution they make to the effectiveness of the asset management system – this includes the benefits that come from improved asset management performance
- How their work activities are related to relevant risks and opportunities
- What could happen if they don’t conform to the asset management system requirements.
To address these requirements, you will need to consider adding these topics into your communications plan and taking specific actions such as awareness briefings, adaptation of induction and training content, role profiles and other related steps.
A “touch map” is a useful tool used by some of our clients to identify and communicate a holistic view of asset management activities and how the activities of each employee contribute to effectiveness of the asset management system. These can be based on the organisation’s role profiles, supported by reference to useful mapping aids. These include the IAM list of 39 asset management subjects and the Global Forum for Maintenance and Asset Management (GFMAM) landscape mentioned under Competence. Access the document here.
Another useful communication aid is the IAM’s Big Picture video and the “People Do Asset Management” picture – view it here.
We can advise and support you in developing these tools.
Communication for the implementation project
Internal communication is a critical area, because if it is handled badly, it will compromise your asset management system implementation. If perceptions about the programme become negative, it could make it more difficult to implement improvements now and also in the future.
Communication activities in your implementation plan, whether handled internally by the project team, the organisation’s communication team or by outsourcing, should include:
- A communications strategy
- Identification of the intended audiences
- Objectives for what is going to be communicated
- Development and updating of a detailed communications plan
- Metrics and KPIs for outcomes from the communications activities.
ISO 55001 has specific requirements for awareness and communication that need to be included in the implementation plan. These are also covered in our guidance.
The implementation project is going to handle large amounts of information, both in receiving it and in making it available to the right people. Lack of capability in this area can restrict coordination, openness and team-working. Most of our clients adopt an information-sharing platform at an early stage in the project to promote cross-functional working and the ability for “self-service” access to project information without the continuous intervention of the project team.
Information systems are critically important in asset management. It is beneficial to engage with information systems professionals in the organisation to get their involvement, and to integrate asset management information requirements with wider information strategy and transformation programmes.
ISO 55001 has specific clauses relating to information requirements. We can advise you about these, and this topic is covered in our training courses.
The asset management system will include documented information – almost certainly a lot that already exists, plus some that will need to be developed.
The implementation project will have to address the need to:
* Identify the documentation that is required
* Control document creation, approval and updating
* Provide access to it by the appropriate people
We have provided a useful guidance paper on documentation that is required by ISO 55001.
Step 5. Managing the project
Implementing the plan
Once the implementation plan is established, the focus will shift to implementation in accordance with the objectives and outcomes for each of the stages and actions. The project manager should be monitoring progress and making regular progress reports to the project board or steering group. Any project risk register and performance information should be kept up to date and shared with the project team.
It is good practice to manage any exceptions to the project plan, including missed deadlines, unexpected events or external issues. Exceptions are normally reviewed to understand the impact on the overall plan, with reporting to the project board or steering group.
Management of change
The implementation programme will almost certainly involve changes to roles, processes, operating methods and systems. Any risks that are associated with these changes must be managed as part of the organisation’s risk framework.
What to outsource
Many organisations outsource aspects of the implementation process, usually because they do not wish to develop the necessary capability in-house to accommodate a temporary need – for example for training services, gap assessment or specialist consulting support. However, it’s a good idea to identify those capabilities that are going to be essential core competencies in the future – for example, asset investment planning and optimisation, or asset data management – and make sure that this knowledge is captured and retained in the company, so that you do not become dependent on external providers.
Controlling the services
It’s essential that outsourced activities are controlled and integrated into the project plan. Outsourcing controls should include:
- Information about the processes and activities that are to be outsourced
- Identified responsibilities and authority for managing the outsourced activities
- Sharing of knowledge and information with the service provider
- Competence requirements for the provider
- Monitoring the performance of the outsourced activities.
Step 6. Performance evaluation
Monitoring, measuring, evaluating
A good project plan will have clearly identified objectives, outcomes, milestones and KPIs.
This will allow monitoring of progress as the project is implemented, with regular reporting to the project board or steering group.
ISO 55001 has specific requirements for monitoring and measurement, analysis and evaluation. The project plan will address any gaps in this area that were identified in the gap assessment.
We can provide help and guidance in the required areas of evaluation, including:
- Asset performance
- Asset management performance
- The effectiveness of the asset management system
- The effectiveness of the processes for managing risks and opportunities.
ISO 55001 requires the organization to conduct internal audits at planned intervals. The project plan will include actions to set up this capability and to establish an audit programme. A well planned and managed audit process will assess the strengths and weaknesses of the management system and provide significant benefits. The audit process should be seen as an important management tool for independent assessment of processes and activities, and hence the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation.
The audit process can be used to monitor and evaluate progress of the implementation project, and also readiness for external certification. A useful conformity matrix can be used to track compliance with the various requirements and the progress of improvement actions. Contact us for examples of these.
Some clients also commission their corporate audit team to evaluate the extent of conformity with requirements.
Internal asset management auditors — what is required
Audit procedures have to address the responsibilities and requirements for audit activities.
Auditors, like all personnel, have to be competent on the basis of appropriate education, training or experience. The organisation determines the necessary competence and provides training or other actions to satisfy these needs. There is no requirement to attend a particular course or achieve a specific qualification unless there is an additional regulatory or customer requirement – the organisation decides what competence is needed and arranges the necessary learning activity.
The organisation has to retain appropriate records of education, training, skills and experience. In practice this normally means retaining evidence that an auditor has completed a suitable training course.
We can help with guidance and training for auditors. Read more about internal audit training here.
We also have useful FAQs on these and other topics.
Management review – Project Board
One of the key steps in the Leadership section is to set up a project board or steering group
This group can meet regularly to agree project deliverables and objectives, justify support and resources, monitor project performance, approve reports, arbitrate important decisions, handle risk, manage change and authorise project exceptions.
This group can later provide support to management review, as required by clause 9.3.
Step 7. Improvement
The implementation project will have a defined end-point, after the necessary processes and governance arrangements have been integrated into business processes. This must include processes for continuous improvement of asset management and the asset management system.
We can help you
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