Guest Post: Criticality Analysis and Making Better Decisions

June 30, 2015 Tacoma Zach

This is a guest contribution from Tacoma Zach, a Certified Reliability Leader™ and CEO of Uberlytics, experts in criticality analysis.

Fundamentally, successful asset management depends on making good decisions. If we can take it a step further and make the best decisions, we can get that much closer to achieving excellence in asset management.

Of course, there are many challenges that get in the way of making the best decisions. Not the least of these challenges is knowing where to start. A good criticality analysis can be invaluable for helping you get started with Asset Investment Planning and Management. By identifying your most critical systems and assets first, you can narrow the focus for the next steps in your value-based decision making process.

So what is a good criticality analysis? Criticality is often misunderstood and misapplied so let’s take a look first at what criticality means and what a criticality analysis sets out to accomplish. [Myths and Misperceptions About Criticality]

Criticality is a measure of the relative importance of something, usually a tangible system or asset, to the corporate mission, objectives and values of your organization. Often the criticality of a particular asset is obvious, but sometimes it is not and will only be discovered through an intentional process called a criticality analysis.

A criticality analysis is a way to determine which systems and assets are most essential, in order to set priorities for further reliability initiatives and deeper analysis.

A good criticality analysis will be marked by the following:

1. It is properly grounded in organizational aims.

A clear understanding of your corporate objectives is essential to the success of the criticality analysis. What are the stated goals and mission of your organization, public or private? What is important to the Board of Directors, the town council, and the senior management? Without a clearly defined set of objectives or clearly defined mission statement, a criticality analysis, no matter how well executed, will not deliver results reflective of the organization’s needs, and will ultimately reduce the potential ROI on the whole asset management program.

2. It includes all necessary stakeholders.

Evaluating criticality requires input from more than operations and maintenance. Getting the right participants in the room is vital to the ultimate value of the analysis. Representatives from environmental, health and safety, engineering, finance, executive leadership and other departments as appropriate will help ensure that your results are truly reflective of necessary values and considerations  – see next point.

3. It accurately reflects the specific values and context of the facility.

As we noted, the viability of an organization depends on more than production uptime. In preparing for an analysis, many categories of evaluation must be considered for inclusion. In addition to production capacity and quality other categories would be safety, environmental, regulatory, commercial terms, public perception or relations, stakeholder impact, and more.

It is also important to factor in the local context of the facility being evaluated. For example, an organization with identical process design plants but in different locations will likely have different criticality results for each site based on geography, climate, local regulation and other similar constraints.

4. It can be completed efficiently.

A criticality analysis that is never finished or is way too costly is of limited value. In fact, this is one of the main objections to doing a criticality analysis in the first place – people expect that it will take too long and cost too much money. In fact it is possible to complete an excellent criticality analysis in a fraction of the time many expect. The key is starting the evaluation at the functional system level and quickly zeroing in on critical systems first, then moving on to evaluating critical assets.

5. It is carefully documented and repeated appropriately.

With the advent of the ISO5500x standards for asset management, appropriate documentation is even more important. A good analysis will capture and document the results in a way that can be easily audited and updated in the future.

There are other important considerations in setting up an effective criticality analysis to support optimal decision-making—you can read more on the Uberlytics blog and in my book Criticality Analysis Made Simple.

Understanding criticality will help you get started on the journey toward excellent value-based decision making. You can learn more about how a criticality analysis supports Copperleaf’s AIPM solutions in this joint webinar I had the privilege of participating in with Copperleaf CMO Boudewijn Neijens.

View Boudewijn’s article on this topic here.


About the Author

Tacoma Zach

Tacoma Zach, P.Eng (Ontario and Alberta) is a Certified Reliability Leader™ and CEO of Uberlytics, experts in Criticality Analysis. With over two decades in operation under his belt, Tacoma now helps organization discover what’s most critical to their mission and use that information to optimize their asset management. His first book “Criticality Analysis Made Simple” was recently published by

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