ISO 55000 and ISO 55001 – Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ on international Asset Management System standards ISO 55000, ISO 55001 and ISO 55002.

What’s the difference between ISO 55001 and ISO 55000?

ISO 55001 is the international standard issued in 2014 which provides a model for developing, implementing and maintaining an asset management system.  It is one of three standards which collectively are referred to as the ISO 55000 Series:

ISO 55000 Asset Management – Overview, Principles and Terminology

ISO 55001 Asset Management – Management Systems – Requirements

ISO 55002 Asset Management – Management Systems – Guidelines for the Application of ISO 55001

ISO 55000 and ISO 55002 respectively contain guidance on asset management principles and on implementing ISO 55001. Confusion can arise when you hear people using the term “ISO 55000” when they really mean ISO 55001.

What is ISO 55001 meant to be used for?

ISO 55001 is the global standard which specifies requirements for and asset management system.  It has three uses. Firstly, it enables development an effective asset management system for any organisation of any type or size which manages assets. That is to say, it serves as a model for building the system. It does so by specifying system requirements generically. It therefore necessitates skill and knowledge to interpret those requirements, but this enables the system to be tailored exactly to the organisation’s needs. ISO 55001 also specifies requirements to ensure that the system is implemented effectively and is continually improved.

Secondly it provides a set of universally accepted criteria for a 3rd party assessment body to perform and audit of an asset management system and, if it satisfies those criteria, to award an ISO 55001 certificate.

Thirdly, other external bodies such as regulators, investors, government agencies can use it to audit an organisation’s processes and formal controls for asset management. In a sense, ISO 55001 is then being used as a universal benchmark for good governance of assets. Of course, the alternative, is to accept the evidence of 3rd party certification to ISO 55001.

What exactly is meant by an “asset”?

The ISO 55000 guide defines an asset as, “an item, thing or entity that has potential or actual value to an organisation”. By this definition, assets may be physical or tangible, such as buildings, ships, trains and industrial plants. Assets may also be non-physical or intangible, such as intellectual property, brand and corporate reputation.

Are there big differences between PAS 55 and ISO 55000?

The differences are not huge. That is not surprising because ISO 55001 was derived from the tried and tested PAS 55-1. Certainly, if work on developing an asset management system was based on PAS 55, the additional work needed to “upgrade” to ISO 55001 is not onerous. One of the important differences is that the scope of an asset management system now also covers non-tangible assets such as brand and intellectual property. PAS 55 was concerned only with physical assets such as buildings, vehicles, plant and equipment. Some have opined that ISO 55001 is less “jargony” and easier to understand.

If you are interested, read the article PAS 55 and ISO 55001 – The Main Differences

Why is it called ISO 55000?

Simple. The success of the Publicly Available Specification PAS 55 for over a decade across the world, led to The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) developing a series of standards for an asset management system. In recognition of the PAS 55’s pioneering work, the series began with “55”.

Incidentally, when ISO creates a new standard or series of standards, it assigns unique number e.g. ISO 9000 (Quality), ISO 14000 (Environment) etc. The number itself has no special meaning.

What types of organisation are adopting ISO 55001?

ISO 55001 can be applied to any organisation which manages an asset.  Based on recent take up of the standard and of its forerunner PAS 55, the following types of organisation are typical users:

  • Airlines
  • Shipping
  • Railways
  • Construction
  • Energy generation (conventional, nuclear and renewable)
  • Mining
  • Petrochemical
  • Manufacturers
  • Water utilities
  • Electrical power distributors
  • Gas utilities
  • Civil amenities
  • Urban authorities
  • Telecommunications
  • Property developers
  • Military

The list is not exhaustive.

Asset management has been around for a long time. Does ISO 55001 offer anything new?

An asset management system as specified in ISO 55001 is not intended to replace the policies, strategies, plans, programmes, tools and best practices which make up asset management. It is designed to provide a cohesive framework within which all these elements work together effectively. For the first time, we have an international standard for a complete asset management system.

As anyone who has worked in the fields of operations or maintenance or within major projects will know, things go wrong and go wrong very expensively. Oil rigs and power plants catch fire, trains get derailed, project costs skyrocket, installations suffer forced outages, the maintenance function inherits problems due to poor design and so on. ISO 55001 is not a panacea for all ills. However, it gives an organisation the means of ensuring that asset management is driven top-down, is properly resourced and co-ordinated in a way which displays joined-up thinking. Significantly, the system and the trail of evidence it creates demonstrates all of these things to the organisation and its stakeholders.

For a discussion of these points, see the article, ISO 55000 and ISO 55001 – What You Should Know

What is meant by the “whole life cycle” of an asset?

It is widely known that work done on design during the early phase of a capital project will have significant effects on the cost of ownership of the completed asset. There are innumerable examples where maintenance could have been made easier, much less expensive, safer and with reduced environmental impact if better decisions had been made at a much earlier phase. It is well known that poor planning and control during design and construction have led to chronic reliability and maintainability problems, sometimes forced expensive modifications and ensured much higher cost of maintenance over the working life of the asset. Even, so organisations have continued to suffer a fragmented approach to asset management.

For these reasons, ISO 55001 provides an asset management system model which, as a matter of good practice and sound governance, takes a whole life cycle approach (see Fig 1).

Fig 1 Asset Life Cycle - Simple Representation

Fig 1 Asset Life Cycle – Simple Representation

Following this approach, attention is given to the early phases where there are the biggest opportunities for reducing the total cost of ownership of the asset.

Why should our top management care about ISO 55001?

Because it would be good for them and their organisation. However, that is a claim. Surely top management deserves the respect and courtesy of being given facts and reasoned argument? In many cases they will have become aware that competitors and other asset-intensive organisations in other sectors are already beginning to implement ISO 55001. Also, their current and potential future customers may have begun to move towards making ISO 55001 certification a pre-condition for contract award. Perhaps your top management are already thinking about it?

A time-efficient way of outlining the case to members of top management is to arrange a formal presentation explaining what ISO 55001 is, how it works and what it can do for the business. Gablesmead offers this service in the form of the ISO 55001 Management Brief.

Another way of assisting top management is to arrange a management system survey which includes a gap analysis against ISO 55001. It should take only a few days and would deliver a great deal of information which includes major opportunities for improvement. Gablesmead would be happy to conduct an ISO 55001 gap analysis for you.

How can I get my work colleagues to see the value of ISO 55001?

Well, if you have received extensive training in ISO 55001, you could try talking to them. However, your colleagues are very likely absorbed in their task. That makes engagement difficult unless you have amazing powers of persuasion. There are many good reasons you could cite or perhaps refer them to argument in print – see the article 10 Reasons to Implement ISO 55001.

If top management has already approved an initiative to develop an asset management system, then communication should be a major component of the strategy for getting everyone onboard and supporting it enthusiastically. In that case, they can gain a deeper appreciation of the good sense of ISO 55001 and a clear understanding of its requirements from a training course. We would probably recommend the ISO 55001 Foundation Training Course delivered in-house and tailored to your organisation.

What steps should my organisation take if it decides to adopt the standard?

There is no standard formula, idiots guide or checklist which covers this. Anyone who suggests there is should be treated with extreme caution. Every organisation is different, not only with respect to its type and size of business, but also its present culture, processes and existing system of controls.

For an asset management system to be effective and deliver lasting benefits, it must be tailored for the organisation. This is achieved through having the right strategy and an action plan which defines the steps for applying that strategy. A sensible first step is to talk to a consultant to verify that he or she has the ability to explain ISO 55001 and its implementation clearly in plain language. The second would be to ask a consultant to propose and perform a gap analysis. That should deliver a great deal of understanding, a recommended strategy and an estimate of costs within a few days. In addition, you will have given the consultant the chance to demonstrate valuable knowledge and skills which you need. You should also get a feel as to whether the working relationship will be a good one.

We already have ISO 9001 certification. Will it help us to get ISO 55001 certification?

Most likely it will. A quality management system which complies with ISO 9001 should also satisfy many of the requirements of ISO 55001. The two standards have many requirements in common.

Can it be wise to implement ISO 55001 but not go for certification?

Yes, under certain circumstances. It is important to understand that implementation and certification are not the same thing. By interpreting and applying ISO 55001 intelligently, an organisation can establish an excellent asset management system. Using ISO 55001 as a model makes it far easier than trying to design an asset management system from first principles. The result will be a system which enables the organisation to manage an asset or portfolio of assets efficiently and to realise greater value. The benefits will more than justify the costs of developing and maintaining the system.

It is a quite different question as to whether the organisation would derive sufficient benefits in financial and non-financial terms by also incurring the additional cost of 3rd party certification.  In more than 50% of cases, the answer is Yes. To help you decide – see the article ISO Certification – Is it for us?

Does ISO 55001 conflict with ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and other ISO standards?

No. This would not be the cause of conflicting controls as you implement ISO 55001. Any such conflicts would be due to system design and other factors. Conflict avoidance needs to be tackled when planning your ISO 55001 initiative.

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) which oversees the development of all of these standards, ensures that conflicts are prevented. ISO appointed a group (Project Committee 251) to develop ISO 55001 with contributions from over 30 countries. Similarly, each of the other standards has its own committee or working group. As well as creating a standard, each committee remains in place in order to continually review and update it every 6 years or so. As this process takes place, drafts of standards are circulated between the committees. They have a formal obligation to prevent conflict between standards. That has been the case for many years.

More recently, ISO have established a document called Annex SL (formerly ISO Guide 83) which defines the framework for a generic management system. Its purpose is to ensure that all ISO management system standards will be consistent in style, format, content and terminology. All new ISO management system standards will adhere to this framework and all current standards will migrate to the framework at their next revision.

Does ISO 55001 work well with an integrated management system?

For many organisations, an integrated management system will be the ideal solution.  Even better would be an integrated management system which is process-based. ISO 55001 specifies requirements for an asset management system, but does not say that it must be integrated with other systems.

Some of the requirements of ISO 55001 present a strong case for integration. These include: the asset life cycle approach, links between asset management strategy and corporate strategy, collaboration between functions and others. However, there are situations in which integration is the ideal solution, but it would not work in practice.

How long does it take to establish an asset management system?

There is no single, correct answer to this question. The time required to develop an asset management system and implement it satisfactorily will vary according to many factors. It will depend upon the type of business, scale of the asset or portfolio of assets, the intended scope of the system and certainly on the maturity or immaturity of existing management systems and so on.  Timeframe will also be influenced by the pressure to achieve ISO 55001 certification, if indeed that is also a corporate objective. If it is, you should allow 3 to 6 months between system launch and the first on-site (Stage 2) audit by the certification body. This is to allow sufficient documentary evidence to accumulate and thus enable to auditor to verify compliance.

The best way to determine the overall timeframe is to arrange for an ISO 55001 gap analysis to be conducted. This will provide a recommended strategy, timeframe and other vital information for developing the action plan. If you would like to know more about such a gap analysis – Contact Us.

Who needs to be involved?

I would be easy to assume that only the technical disciplines need to be involved. However, ASSET MANAGEMENT IS EVERYONE’S IS BUSINESS. It involves design and development, contracts, procurement,  operations, maintenance, marketing, public relations, customer services, human resources, risk, document and data control, health and safety, environment, legal, finance and others, where they exist in your organisation. This is true at any time. It is especially important that these disciplines and functions are engaged when developing an asset management system.