ISO 55000 – It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it

By David McKeown – CEO, Institute of Asset Management

David McKeown

When AMT-SYBEX invited me to contribute a piece to their Know How series last year, I wrote about how the new ISO 55000 standard needs to be more than just a tick-box compliance exercise – it’s an opportunity to re-think the philosophy behind asset management and make sure that those assets are delivering the right kind of value to the organisation as a whole.

Following the launch of ISO 55000 in January this year, now is a perfect time to look at the topic in more detail, and explore how the new standard can help support the evolution of both asset management strategy and day-to-day practice.

First, ISO 55000 is more inclusive than previous standards. It recognises asset management as an activity that many different types of organisations engage in, with many different objectives. For companies in the essential industries, which have traditionally been the main focus of asset management standards, this may seem like a dilution. But looked at in a different way, it’s an opportunity to re-think existing practices and learn from other industries.

For example, many utilities have traditionally viewed the growth of their asset base as inevitable, and never really questioned whether or not new assets will actually add value. But in industries such as property or manufacturing, companies are constantly assessing the costs, benefits and risks of acquiring, building and maintaining new offices, factories or production lines.

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As utilities face increasing pressure to become more agile and make smarter infrastructure investments, learning from best practices in other industries could be a vital differentiator – helping companies boost operational efficiency and take greater advantage of regulatory incentives.

The scope of the standard is also broader in another sense – it sees asset management as a financial issue as much as an operational one. By providing a management system that helps engineers speak to accountants in business terms, and accountants understand the risks and rewards of different asset management strategies, the standard aims to help companies make smarter decisions. For example, instead of seeing maintenance simply as a cost to be cut, finance teams will gain a better idea of how it can extend the life of assets and reduce or defer future capital expenditure.

The onus is on organisations to take these cues offered by ISO 55000 and run with them. Achieving compliance with the standard is only the first step in a continuous process of driving cultural change. The standard itself sets a framework for an organisation to develop good practices – but within that organisation, you must have the right culture and leadership as well as asset management practitioners with the right skills and competences. This is transformational and on-going – not a quick project you complete!

Although the ISO 55000 standard is important in itself, it’s how the standard is applied to everyday working practice that really matters. Only on-going cultural change and professional development will really allow companies to manage their assets in a way that delivers the greatest value to the whole organisation. As in so many parts of life, it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it that counts.

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