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Charles Corrie, from British Institute of Standards Secretariat, reports on success, progress achieved at ISO/PC 251 workshop
Issued by: Pragma  
[Johannesburg, 1 March 2012]

The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO)/PC 251 workshops, held in Pretoria recently, is testimony to the fact that the ISO 55 000 for asset management is well on its way to becoming a reality.

The ISO started a process about two years ago to develop a standard for asset management. The departure point for this standard was Publicly Available Specification 55, or PAS 55 (PAS 55-2008 parts 1 & 2), which has been developed by the British Standards Institute (BSI), in conjunction with the Institute for Asset Management UK (IAM) and numerous public and private sector organisations.

Following the second ISO/PC 251 meeting, held in October last year, Committee Drafts of its three standards were released for review. These included the ISO/CD 55000 asset management, an overview, principles and terminology, which received approximately 460 individual comments; the ISO/CD 55001 asset management management systems requirements received approximately 420 individual comments; and the ISO/CD 55002 asset management management systems - guidelines on the application of ISO 55001 received approximately 170 comments.

Says Charles Corrie of the BSI Group: “Overall, this was about a 25% reduction when compared to the comments received on the earlier second Working Drafts of the standards, reflecting the increasing maturity of the documentation. The primary purpose of the third meeting was to revise the drafts and to improve the texts to a point where they would be ready for ballot as second Committee Drafts.”

Approximately 30% of the delegates were attending a meeting of the PC251 for the first time. Says Corrie: “There was a definite increase in participation. We now have very little time until the next meeting, which is planned for June this year. It would require us to give consideration to the length of the proposed ballot for the Committee Drafts following this month's meeting, and the need to balance the time available for preparing the next set of drafts versus the time member bodies would have for translating and consulting on the drafts.”

Following the open forum at the recent meeting, which enabled delegates to contribute to the discussion, the design specification for the standards were amended and then used to co-ordinate the development work. “Initially there were lengthy discussions on whether the scopes of the standards should be focused on just addressing the management of physical assets or whether they should remain generic and applicable to all asset types (with limitations on their application to financial or human resources assets). Eventually, revised scope statements were agreed that would keep the standards generic, but noting that they would be based primarily on the management of physical assets.”

Presentations were also received on the need for the language in the standards to be improved so that the topic of asset management could be communicated more effectively to financiers, accountants and board members; the need for consistency in the application of defined terms across the drafts, and the need to review whether so many terms were actually required; the alignment of elements within the standards between high level organisational objectives and asset management objectives; and lastly, the use of the revised Draft ISO Guide 83 definition of "risk" versus the ISO 31000/ISO Guide 73 definition. “It was agreed to use the ISO 31000 definition, supplemented by additional notes specific to asset management,” says Corrie.

During the five-day meeting, working groups were formed and then divided into task teams to deal with specific clauses and issues, as highlighted by the received comments. Corrie continues: “In addition, a co-ordination team was established to examine overlaps between the three standards, to examine how they met the design specification, and to recommend actions to the working groups on how to resolve any identified issues.

“All-in-all, good progress was made before an open forum session was called to receive the closing reports from the working groups. In the end, by a large majority, it was agreed to maintain a three-month consultation period. The report of the co-ordination group also highlighted the extent of the work that had been achieved, by showing that while each of the standards had started with around 70 co-ordination issues against them, most had been resolved. Many of the outstanding items are expected to be addressed in the final preparations of the Committee Drafts, prior to their release, which is expected around 26 February.”

Corrie believes the meeting achieved its aim of producing the second Committee Drafts, following the resolution of some very difficult issues, through some exceptional hard work by the delegates. “This would not have been possible without the magnificent support we received from our hosts, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the South African Asset Management Association (SAAMA), and their sponsors, and for the wonderful social events they provided. Many of the delegates also availed themselves of the opportunity to make short safaris and to visit other parts of the country, where they had a wonderful time,” Corrie concludes.

The next international meeting will be held from 10 to 15 June, in Prague.

Editorial contacts
Pragma
Alan Tait
(011) 318 0641
Alan.Tait@pragmaworld.net