John Woodhouse, managing director of the Woodhouse Partnership and founding member of the Institute of Asset Management (IAM) (pictured), complains about the phrase by which it has come to be known. “Asset management is, in some ways, an unfortunate title as it sounds like housekeeping, but it’s far more than simply looking after things,” he says. “It takes a depth of understanding to do the right thing for the right reason at the right time, and demonstrate that it’s appropriate value for money, taking into account risk and sustainability.”
The Woodhouse Partnership participated in developing the published standards for asset management, originally BSI PAS 55 (the first ever such standard), and its evolution into the current international derivative ISO 55000/55001 (see box). These standards define the requirements for an effective asset management system, covering the policies, strategies, plans and governance needed to manage assets over lifecycles for maximum value to the organisation.
“An asset management policy sets out the must-do items,” states Woodhouse. “Beneath that we develop objectives and strategies over different time horizons: the SAMP. Specific asset management plans are what you distil out of the SAMP, providing more concrete commitments to tasks, timings and responsibilities. In addition, the delivery of different lifecycle activities, such as design, construction, operations and maintenance need coordination, breaking down the functional silos for collective best-value outcomes. There must also be contingency planning, risk management, change management and continual improvement.”
Different people within an organisation benefit from a SAMP in different ways. “Stakeholders with different interests, such as health and safety, regulatory assurance, customer service and so on, want reassurance that the organisation is on the appropriate path and in safe hands,” explains Woodhouse.
He continues: “Perhaps the primary beneficiaries, however, are those who need to ‘make it happen’; the ones who must build plans and deliver the actual scopes of work. For example, the SAMP may include a desired programme to migrate to a new generation of technology, or renew certain ageing assets, or expand capacity in a particular region. The SAMP states the intentions, the desired approach and the required outcomes. Planners use this to target the work, relying on the SAMP as the guiding framework and touchstone.”
Another key role of the SAMP is to help focus on improving asset management capabilities: the skills, competencies, processes, governance, enabling technologies, risk management methods, culture change and other essential ‘enablers’. This is so those involved in organisational development also see and use the SAMP as a catalyst for improvement.
Says Woodhouse: “This set of ‘enablers’ represents organisational maturity in asset management, ensuring that the adoption of new methods, technologies or processes does not run ahead of the ability to exploit them. Such joined-up thinking is a crucial attribute of practically effective and implementable SAMPs.”
UPDATING A SAMP
Depending on the volatility of the organisation’s sector or context, a typical SAMP requires periodic updates to reflect changes in priorities and opportunities. Typically, therefore, a SAMP will receive a major revision every three to five years, but also an annual review to adjust for any changes in stakeholder expectations and problems encountered at ground level. Sometimes there will also be event-triggered revisions for changes in context, economics or legislation, for example.
“There is one non-negotiable in both SAMP creation and maintenance: it must be a cross-disciplinary, collaborative effort,” says Woodhouse. “You cannot delegate or outsource the development of a SAMP. It requires building by decision makers working together, otherwise you don’t get the ownership and programme commitment.”
The Woodhouse Partnership has case studies involving many global organisations, helping them drive corporate transformations and achieve real, sustained gains that exceed their best business case forecasts.
A good example is Grupo Energía Bogotá (GEB), the second largest power transmission utility in Colombia, which achieved $6 million of cost/risk/performance benefits from changes to asset investment timing decisions. It also saw greater efficiency in total operating costs across the whole transmission business (11.4% reduction compared with baseline), and lower total asset lifecycle costs (with added value benefits of $5 million). The story is similar at global facility management company Sodexo, where the Woodhouse Partnership helped to establish an asset management business model that delivered a 30% gain in operational efficiency through improved asset management planning, while total cost of operations reduced by 7-12% per annum.
It is possible to develop and implement a very basic SAMP in a matter of weeks, but an iterative process over three to six months is more typical. Can templates or software help? The answer, it appears, is no. “It would be absolutely the wrong approach to try to automate the development of a SAMP,” states Woodhouse. “Trying to simplify the process would distil out the important part, which is having the difficult discussions, listening to different viewpoints and priorities, addressing misalignments, and establishing the compromises. I would strongly advise against any form of procedural automation.”
To understand more, those responsible for strategic planning might want to consider a training course. The Woodhouse Partnership, in association with the IAM, runs a regular course on creating and maintaining a SAMP, providing practical insight into the development of effective strategies, including alignment with organisational objectives, workforce engagement, risk management and cross-disciplinary collaboration. The next virtual course takes place 1-2 November.
BOX: REVISED ISO 55000/55001
The 2008 edition of BSI PAS 55 became the fastest-selling standard of all time, even overtaking ISO 9001, and remains a useful educational tool. In 2014, with the publication of the ISO 55000 series, the concepts and requirements gained international recognition, increasingly becoming a regulatory requirement in different industries and countries.
Today, the standards are being updated (and are due for publication in early 2024), with expanded clarity on the requirements for an effective SAMP, for asset management decision-making, and for better management of asset management information. Supplemental guidance is also about to be published for public policy, aligning financial and technical approaches and culture and competencies.