This spring, I’ve had the privilege to visit the electricity IOUs (Investor-Owned Utilities) Elenia, Elektrilevi and Caruna which have all obtained the ISO 55000 certification for their asset management system. The certification - or its comparables ISO 55001 or PAS55 - gives companies guidance for the best practices in their asset management, an essential area for the utility business. Rasmus Armas, Head of Asset Management at Elektrilevi, describes: “ISO 55000 is an overview of how the asset management system should work. It doesn’t give you answers or tell you what to do, but it gives you a way to decide for yourself what you want to do.”
Jorma Myllymäki, COO at Elenia reflects: “In our type of asset-intensive industry, asset management in general and applying standards like ISO 55000 has high strategic importance. We saw the importance very early and wanted to take a really professional approach to it, because it encourages us to manage our assets in a very sustainable way.”
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
One of the key factors that all three utilities highlight in the certification process is commitment. Sauli Antila, Head of Strategic Asset Management at Caruna pinpoints: “It’s very important that everybody is committed - the management, the project team - actually everybody who is participating.” Jorma’s thoughts are very similar: “The commitment of the senior management in the company is extremely important, everything starts from there. It really needs to go from the top to the lowest level in the organization and be implemented very widely in various processes and daily work. Without that, you don’t really gain the benefits to which you have potential.”
“Trimble has gotten lots of recognition during the audits. The auditors have told us several times that our IT systems are really state-of-the art, more or less the best ones they have ever seen.”
Jorma Myllymäki, Elenia
Getting the entire organization to work on the asset management processes will also naturally bring benefits in how teams organize themselves.
“It was an intensive period, for sure,” Sauli adds, “Everybody had a lot to do, but we knew what we wanted to do and had it very well structured. We had the best people in place in-house, and a very good communication with the auditors.” For Caruna, the certification was also a basis for developing an ongoing 2 billion euro investment program that everybody is already committed to. “Then, it was just pushing the last mile to make the certification happen.”
Utilities Describe: IT Systems in ISO 55000
But the certification is not about the certificate. That is what came across in all these three interviews. “It’s not some external certificate to polish your company image,” Sauli smiles. Supporting that, Rasmus pinpoints the benefit to the internal preparation work, not the certification itself: “It’s a good exercise for your own to look over the way you do everything, to clarify it and put it in a fixed system, ensuring that it’s sustainable and finding a better understanding through that. That’s the real benefit, not the paper you can put on the wall.”
Also Jorma emphasizes that the work continues even after the certification: “We have defined clear roles and responsibilities to ensure that we continuously improve our asset management routines and principles. It’s really really important not to just let things be once we have the certificate. It’s equally important - or even more important - that we keep continuously developing even after the certification. And this we have seen to be very beneficial.”
The certification is followed by a 3-year follow-up period with a commitment to continuous development. “That’s a very good encouragement for the organization to keep it up because you always have the next auditing coming, and you have a schedule for your improvement actions,” Sauli concludes and smiles: “And of course, at least the Finnish mentality is so that you do what you have promised. So for us, we will do it, no other option. After reaching that, we’ll have to consider whether we set the ambition level even higher and go further, or is there some specific topic that we want to focus on, or maybe the environment is changing, we will see in 3 years.”
“Don’t tell the auditors what you would like to do. Instead,
tell exactly what you are doing and how, that’s very important.
Otherwise, it’s totally impossible to audit you.”
Sauli Antila, Caruna
For anyone out there considering to start the certification process, the message from my interviewees is clear. “I would definitely suggest everybody try and obtain it,” Rasmus states, and Sauli supports that: “It’s not that complicated, it’s just that you have to have the commitment, and the clarity and openness in the organization, and you have to simplify the process. Those are the key things.”
Hearing all this, I’m both impressed and excited to learn what actually lies beneath the work of our customers, too. Even an international standard like this is not about the company image. It’s about looking at your own work and striving to improve it to it’s best potential. And that, truly, all of my team can relate to, too.
PS. Want to learn more about what the certification process for these utilities was like? Download the free PDF and read the stories of Elenia, Elektrilevi and Caruna!
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