John Woodhouse: Asset Management is an Organic Process

Founder and President of the panel of experts from the Asset Management Institute, creator of PAS 55 standard and general director of Woodhouse Partnership Limited, he was present in the 7th World Congress of Maintenance in Cartagena. After his lecture, Woodhouse talked about the importance of international quality standards, the transition from PAS 55 to ISO 55000 and the evolutionary character of.

The lecture “Migration of Maintenance in Asset Management” showed, in a brief way, the vision of someone who has set pace in this area. We are talking about John Woodhouse, founder member of The Institute of Asset Management (IAM) in England and author of the international standard PAS 55, and who recently attended this year´s World Congress in Maintenance and Asset Management, which gathered the most compromised representatives of the discipline.

With a Masters in Science from the University of Cambridge, Woodhouse is Founder and President of the panel of experts from the Asset Management Institute. He has been Project Director for the British Standards Institute and main expert representing the U.K. in the Asset Management international standard formulation team. He is also general director of Woodhouse Partnership Limited and, without a doubt, someone who has a lot to say on the matter. Predictiva21 had the opportunity to talk to this expert, who has proved to be really passionate about asset management.

Predictiva21: You are the creator of pas 55 standard, which then generated ISO 55000 international standard. How was the experience? Which was the foundation to create pass 55? Tell us about this experience, what it meant to you as a professional and also at a personal level.

John Woodhouse: We started the Institute of Assets Management in 1994 as a group of passionate individuals, literally around the table saying: “Look, we have a lot in common even though we are from different industries”. For the first few years, it was like a club, with a love for common interests and passion. Then, it became clear that we had to be a little more serious if we were going to get organizations to take the subjects seriously and see the big prize that we could see ourselves as possible. It was in a conference like this: a group of us, five of us, in the evening, around several beers, decided that we actually needed to develop a checklist that was independent from the type of assets and independent from the public or private ownership or the organizational structure or industry sector, that is, what was always needed to be done for assets management. We decided that we would not do it just as a publication from a little institute. We needed a structure that guaranteed objectivity and a validation process, so we approached British Standards for that. British Standards had this model PAS or Publicly Available Specifications, with rules of language, structure and consultation and validation. So we adopted that in collaboration with British Standards we developed what then became 55PAS.

P21: And how was the experience to go from pas55 to ISO55000?

JW: Well, it has already become a collective effort. I was lucky enough to be in a position of coordinating, but really it was quite the combination of a lot of people working very hard to do the big revision of PAS55 in 2008. We had over 1,300 proposals for refinement, to seek, review, refine and de-conflict, and find the best of the best. So, when it came to the next cycle of revision, it was the obvious time to say: this thing is no longer just an agreement of good practice. It probably needs some bigger teeth, and that’s when we made the proposal to ISO in Geneva, and they accepted the PAS to be the basis of an international standard. It is very hard to create the right compromise for an international standard, so at the beginning it may not be as clear and crisp as we were able to develop in PAS55, but it would have a wider applicability. For example, PAS55 is physical – asset centric, but not physical-asset limited, so it can apply to the human factors and their financial assets as well. ISO55000 is for any type of asset from day one. And making that migration inevitably means that we had to use more generic language, we had more time to explain to different cultures and industries, so there was a certain lowering of the degree of ambition, but much wider applicability. That is the compromise. It also made some very good advances, better than PAS55, in putting some real demands on the organization, to understand the context and the direction, and the role of good leadership. And the role of ISO55000 is the role for all management system standards. And so all the other management systems standards like ISO9000, 14000, and the new version of 18000 that will come out next year, are all being re-structured to map exactly into the same titles and layouts of 55000 so there will be much more integrating which means that organization will have an integrated management system. That is a big step that having something for individual aspects like assets management, or quality or environment managed independently.

Woodhouse junto a Enrique González, en el área de entrevistas de Predictiva21 durante el 7mo Congreso Mundial de Mantenimiento.
Woodhouse junto a Enrique González, en el área de entrevistas de Predictiva21 durante el 7mo Congreso Mundial de Mantenimiento.

P21: What other goals does the Woodhouse Partnership LTD have in terms of international standardization of asset management?

JW: The Woodhouse Partnership TWPL is a slightly unusual organization. We should be having our 2oth birthday party next week. We started out as a group of gray-head guys from industry trying to stop the short term habits of temporary enthusiasms by practical experience about work and how to join it up in a case-by-case personalized way. So, we hate being called “consultants” because consultants tend to preach a solution, and our style is to say: Look, every single organization has to have its own solution, and our role is simply to provide some gray hair about works and practice and how to combine stuff to be sustainable. What we have is something which is growing very fast, the subject of assets management, and we are lucky enough to work with some of the best international companies in the world, and we are seeing particularly in the Latin American market a real hunger for this. So we are making Latin America a big priority for our group. I only have 45 guys, every one of them with at least 30 years in the industry, and we are currently working in 27 countries. But form all the regions in the world, the Middle East and Latin America are the ones making the biggest demands on our time and attention. Also having seen the rate of change that is possible, people have a real attitude of “can do” attitude here. When you get down to the real people and their desire to make things better, it’s fantastic. We are building infrastructure here. We have an operation in North America. We have 4 major clients in Colombia, we are working in Chile, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. So the whole sector is emerging in good asset management, and we are looking forward to see some good case studies come out in a few years.

P21: Which are the main obstacles that you have been able to perceive regarding the application of ISO 55000?

JW: I think the main barriers to implementing these sorts of standards are rather the main barriers to be better in assets management, that is, the cynical model of people protecting their own patch. There is a group of people who have great interest in not changing, and so we have to give them a bigger price to collaborate than what they have for not changing. And that’s a really subtle thing: every organization have a different way forward of solving their practical program, and the biggest problems are nearly always human factors, and they’re also the biggest prices to get them right. It’s not a pre-defined plan of step one, step two and step three. Those people are looking for a copy-paste formula and that does not work in assets management. It has to focus on searching for the local existing good practices and building out from that, but it has to be a dialogue. It’s very much an organic process, not a revolution nor a formula. And that makes it very different from previous attempts of improving businesses.

P21: Finally, what is your opinion on this congress?

JW: (In Spanish): “Este congreso ha sido impresionante. Muy activo. Mucha gente, mucha pasión, intereses en cualquier tópico. Mezcla de los técnicos y los interesados en los factores humanos, y tengo gran expectativa sobre el desarrollo del siguiente” (sic).

Text: Alimey Díaz M
Photos/ Correspondent: Miguel A. Guzmán
Translation/ transcription: Richard Skinner

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