March 26, 2017

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Why companies need ISO 55000 accreditation

The ISO 55000 Asset Management standard is a recognised game changer in an industry struggling to find an identity. Tom Bürge, GM of the new asset management division at SMEC South Africa, talks about the importance of having ISO 5500 accreditation.

Acknowledging the British Standard Institute (BSI), the International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) took the decision to brand ISO 55000: 2014 (ISO 55k) as comprising the standard itself (55000), its management system requirements (55001), and the guidelines for implementation (55002) [ISO, 2014].

The standard was published for the first time in 2014. It was developed by a consortium of the world’s leaders in asset and operations management, with the consulting industry very excited about the prospects of the new standard.

The industry had done all that was required to formulate a standard providing an excellent framework to clearly define what asset management is, and what it aims to achieve. However, the question remains: Why should my business look at implementing ISO 55k when it is costly, consultants are expensive and hard to find, and there is no real pull from industry?

Some industry professionals are even suggesting we go back to focusing on the assets and forget about the complexity of asset management systems altogether (Kirsten, 2016). It is not uncommon for organisations to seek ISO 55k alignment, but not to pursue accreditation.

This is like some of the more popular standards such as ISO 9000, ANSI, MIL SPEC, FDA, AN and CE, where the need is not governed by supply-and-demand principles. The more popular standards are used typically to govern some kind of exchange of goods, and are there to ensure some form of quality is managed between companies. As yet, ISO 55k is not meeting that requirement.

This begs the question: Who is the benefactor of ISO 55k as a standard, and if there is no pull in industry, then why should I consider accreditation? To answer the first question, we need to understand what asset management aims to achieve.

The simple answer is that this comprises the coordinated activities of an organisation to realise value from assets (ISO, 2014). Or it can be seen as the activities within an organisation that will lead to realising the best return from assets in a sustainable manner while balancing risk, cost or opportunities, and performance (The Institute of Asset Management, 2016).

It is fair to surmise therefore that the major beneficiary of good asset management is the owner of the assets (the company), the financiers of the assets (should they be different) and possibly even the insurers of the assets.

Major financiers such as the World Bank and funding agencies like the Millennium Challenge Account and African Bank are all awakening to the need for responsible asset ownership as prescribed by ISO 55k. It is not uncommon to see advertisements for asset management programmes as part of their investment bid to develop what would be deemed to be major capital investment projects.

But what about privately-owned organisations that are not funded and that do not have major investment houses governing their actions? Why would small-, medium- and large-sized companies that contribute greatly to our nations, our communities and our livelihood want to apply ISO 55k?

The organisations that have achieved ISO 55k certification are few and far between. Discussion with them has revealed a rather compelling case to support certification, transcending the popular belief of mere compliance.

ISO 55k has the ability to equip even the most meagre of middle management with a powerful external motivator. This would translate into a general feeling of achievement and pride, a visual tool to recognise achievement or, conversely, sometimes a fear of failure in attaining certification or the fear of loss of certification.

The managers that have achieved and maintained ISO 55k certification use the certification process as a positive motivator to bolster their case for change, to ensure executive support and to motivate a change in behaviour in the workplace (Burge, 2014).

The possibility of becoming a globally-recognised asset management practitioner provides the focus and leadership that is often needed in achieving success in these multi-disciplinary programmes. It is this possibility that packages the need into one simple achievement that everybody within the organisation can understand.

With the simple goal of achieving certification comes all the underlying benefits of asset management thinking: reduced downtime, dissolved silos, extended useful life of assets, improved decision-making, higher productivity and, ultimately, higher returns on your investment in physical assets.

References

(2016). Retrieved from The Institute of Asset Management: www.theiam.org.

Burge, T. (2014). Productivity Improvement Through ISO 55000. Johannesburg.

ISO. (2014). Retrieved from ISO 55000:2014 Asset management – Overview, Principles and Terminology. www.iso.org.

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