Practical Guidance on "How" to Implement ISO 55001

May 4, 2022 Boudewijn Neijens

In previous articles, I provided an overview of the benefits of asset management and the importance of a standardized management system. ISO 55000 is a series of international standards gaining widespread adoption in multiple sectors, with electrical and water utilities at the forefront. 

ISO management system standards typically consist of at least three documents: ISO 55000 outlines why you need a management system and its benefits, whereas ISO 55001 focuses on what processes and systems an organization should put in place to be recognized as competent in asset management. Because ISO management standards are industry agnostic, they are generic, leading to the often-heard criticism that the standard falls short on practical implementation advice—i.e. how to deploy asset management in a specific environment. This led ISO to issue a new version of ISO 55002 in 2018, offering more comprehensive guidance on how to interpret the requirements. In addition, a growing number of industry bodies have developed companion guides to the standard, aimed specifically at their respective industries and diving much deeper into the “how”.

Those who have implemented other ISO management system standards such as ISO 9001 or 14001 will notice that ISO 55001 has a very similar structure. This is intentional: all ISO management system standards share a common core and are built on the popular plan-do-check-act model. This means that all of these standards cover the same topics, in our case with a focus on assets and asset management. These include:

  • Context: requires the organization to take into consideration the needs and expectations of its stakeholders and align asset management objectives to its overall organizational strategic objectives. It also requires the organization to define the scope of its asset management system. For example, a utility might decide to limit the scope to one plant or region only, before adopting the management system across all of its operations.
  • Leadership: requires the organization's leadership team to show its commitment to asset management by putting in place the necessary resources, by developing an asset management policy that everybody in the organization must understand and follow, and by giving people in asset management roles the necessary authority and support to perform their functions efficiently.
  • Planning: requires that objectives are clear and plans are put in place to achieve these objectives, including alignment with other functions in the organization such as finance, human resources, etc. It also requires the organization to document its plans (most notably by maintaining a Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP)) and ensure that it has considered the risks and opportunities related to this plan.
  • Support: ensures that the necessary resources are put in place, that the people involved in asset management are competent, that the rest of the organization is aware of its asset management system, and that the appropriate communication mechanisms are available. It also highlights the need to identify information requirements for specific management systems (e.g. an asset register or a capital planning system). Information might need to be documented, not only for legal or regulatory purposes, but also to conform to the management system (e.g. the need for a SAMP and for a written asset management policy). Financial and asset information is often exchanged between different departments, highlighting the need for alignment on what information is maintained by who, and how. ISO has recently published a new Technical Specification ISO 55010 that addresses this challenge in more detail.
  • Operation: requires the necessary processes and control mechanisms be put in place to execute the asset management plans. It also addresses the importance of change management, which might be required to achieve the asset management objectives. Finally, it requires the organization to assess and control the risks of any outsourced asset management activities.
  • Performance Evaluation: the standard requires an organization to monitor, measure, and analyze the performance of its assets, of its asset management function, and of the asset management system itself. This information should be reviewed regularly by management to evaluate any risks and identify opportunities for improvement.
  • Improvement: finally, to close the plan-do-check-act circle, the organization should engage in continuous improvement of its processes and asset management system. Importantly, it should have processes in place to address non-conformities (including asset failures) and develop preventive measures where applicable.

Copperleaf® has been working at the forefront of asset management best practices for more than 20 years. We have seen firsthand how a robust asset management system with a clearly defined value framework aligned with corporate objectives, paired with rigorous and transparent decision-making processes, enables businesses to make improvements in all of the areas listed above.

Check out our case study to learn how the Copperleaf Decision Analytics Solution is helping Rheinische NETZGesellschaft (RNG) align its Asset Investment Planning and Management processes with ISO 55000 best practices.

Stay tuned for my next article, where we will examine risk, value, and finance in relation to decision making. 

About the Author

Boudewijn Neijens

Boudewijn is the CMO at Copperleaf, a Board Member of the Institute of Asset Management, and Chair of the Canadian committees for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) on asset management and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) on managing electrotechnical assets.

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