What’s in a typical SAMP?

Strategic asset management plan

What’s it for?

The international standard for asset management ISO 55001:2014 says it’s “Documentation of the role of the asset management system in supporting achievement of the asset management objectives”.

It also says “Asset management objectives included in the SAMP shall be aligned to and consistent with the organizational objectives”.

So we know it’s documented information, we also know it’s about how we achieve the asset management objectives, and that they have to be aligned to the organisation’s objectives.

But if you feel a bit unsure of what exactly should be in your SAMP, don’t worry, you are not alone. A lot of people have faced the same question. There are many different SAMPs to suit different types of organisations in various sectors. Here are typical examples.

Aligned and consistent with organizational objectives

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good

A great place to start is always the guidance. In our case, ISO 55002:2014 Asset management – Management systems – Guidelines for the application of ISO 55001.

This has a helpful statement about a SAMP: “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” .

So a good SAMP should help the reader to understand:

What the organization objectives are, or how to find them. This information is usually supported by information on the organisation’s context, it’s values and priorities.

How we derive our asset management objectives from the organizational objectives, and how we make sure they are consistent and aligned with them. It’s ok to show that they are consistent today, but objectives change over time, so we need to keep them aligned.

The alignment between organizational and asset management objectives. For example, objectives about service levels can translate into asset reliability or availability requirements, and these link into performance and condition management. Organizational objectives about demand levels or service development can translate into asset portfolio capability (e.g. network capacity, throughput, load, supply capacity) – linking into asset investment programmes and capital delivery management.

How we develop asset management plans. We could say what the general principles are, so that everyone uses the same approach when they are building asset management plans – for example risk based, whole-life, criticality, best value. We may have different types of assets, so we may also need information about how these more specific plans are to be developed

How the asset management system is going to turn these strategic-level plans into delivery plans, resourcing, governance and improvement activities. We are talking about interfaces between the strategic and the operational here, not a detailed manual of every plan and process.

There is a list of typical SAMP contents in the “What’s in it? section below.

The bad

Some SAMPs are created in the style of a “quality manual”, containing a list of the ISO 55001 clauses, with an explanation of how each one is satisfied. This could be a useful document, but it’s not a SAMP unless it contains the right information about “the role of the asset management system in supporting achievement of the asset management objectives”.

If the organisation’s context requires a long-term approach, the SAMP should be appropriate in terms of the strategic planning horizon. It’s unsustainable to have a SAMP that only talks about three or four years ahead, if the organization has assets with 40 year life-cycles and needs to make strategic decisions that could compromise future asset performance or integrity of those assets.

It’s a problem if the SAMP misses out the “Strategic” part. The idea is to put in place the strategic level of a planning process, so that asset management plans for assets can then be optimally created as part of a conscious, balanced approach. A good strategic approach involves spending time defining the issues and considering the options before creating plans for operational delivery.

The ugly

Some SAMPs may be of little benefit, or even actively harmful. These may have been created under time-pressure or without sufficient input from internal and external stakeholder information. Things to look out for and avoid are:

Asset management objectives that are not consistent with the organisation’s objectives. These objectives may sound like great engineering projects, but if they don’t create value in terms of the organisation’s objectives, they are probably taking the management system in the wrong direction.

Asset management objectives and planning frameworks that are entirely about implementing a management system. We need to see strategy for managing the asset portfolio, or this most important area of asset management is going to be carried out in a strategic vacuum – potentially leading to false starts, wasted resources, and poor outcomes.

SAMPs that confuse the real strategic decisions that the organisation has made. For example, if the organization has determined that the service level, reliability, and failure rate performance are just about right, and the customers don’t want to pay for improvement, then a strategic choice has been made. If the SAMP is all about making great strides in improving these areas of performance, it is confusing and wrong, because there will be no investment available to make it happen. It is perfectly acceptable to make plans to keep the level of performance and service indicators at a stable level, or even to allow them to decline, if it’s justified by a robust strategic planning process.

What’s in it?

Typical contents of a SAMP

This is a summary of what many organizations have included – these are for guidance. You should aim for documented information at the right level and in the right format to suit your organization.

  • An overview of the organization context, business, activities, vision and values
  • An overview of customers and other stakeholders’ needs and requirements, the legal and regulatory framework
  • Asset management approach, the strategic direction for the asset portfolio
  • Asset management principles – aligned to the asset management policy, and strategic direction
  • Asset management objectives, ideally with measurable outcomes
  • Strategic approach including how we handle risks and opportunities, demand and service levels
  • Strategic choices – current and future state of our assets
  • The asset management decision-making processes – methods, models, prioritization and optimization
  • Strategic framework – principles and guidelines for development of asset-group specific strategies and plans
  • Strategies for different types/groups of assets
  • Signposting to relevant policies, objectives, processes, and regulations.

What about objectives – where are they?

I often get asked “Do the asset management objectives have to be in the SAMP?

ISO 55001 says: “Asset management objectives included in the SAMP shall be aligned to and consistent with the organizational objectives”.

So that means they have to be “in the SAMP’, right? Well, not necessarily – it depends what you mean by “in the SAMP”. Both the SAMP and the asset management objectives have to be “documented information“. “Documented” mans in any suitable media or format. In many organizations, the SAMP might be a collection of electronically documented information, increasingly likely to be accessed from a browser page that allows the user to navigate to the information that is relevant for their purposes.

So in the world of electronic information, the idea of the SAMP being one paper-style document with everything contained sequentially loses any meaning. The asset management objectives can be included in the SAMP, along with the other content, as a collection of interlinked strategic asset management plan information.

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