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Rational selection of a course of action amongst alternatives, or opinion or judgement after consideration. 

Decision making has a profound impact on the allocation of capital and standard of care applied to assets

Decision Criteria
  • Risk
  • Cost
  • Performance
Criteria are defined in the dictionary as the principles or standards by which something may be judged or decided. Listed below are some of the criteria for making decisions in the best interest of the organization:
  • Safety – Keeping humans away from harm is often the first criteria that is considered when making decisions. However, the provision of additional safety features carries a cost and the organization will invariably find itself having to make difficult choices. Building “safety” and building “security” are sometimes at odds with one another – for example, the building residents may want to lock certain exterior doors for safety reasons but the fire department may require the door be left unlocked for the purpose of egress in the event of an emergency. There have been cases of people that have died in stairwells when they became trapped by doors that had been locked for security reasons.
  • Risk – Risk is a broad term that covers all the different types of consequences that could arise from a decision. These consequences could be grouped into categories such as financial, legal, social, technical, environmental. Consequences of decisions can also be ranked by their level of impact, such as: catastrophic (loss of life), significant (injury or property damage), moderate, and negligible.
  • Cost – Money often has the strongest influence on how decisions are made. In some circumstances this is reasonable but in many circumstances it is short-sighted and can result in poor decisions. There is a wonderful saying to keep in mind when thinking about cost and the driver for decisions: “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”. The O&M team needs to ensure that the organization recognizes that low cost is often associated with low quality.
  • Performance – Every organization wants its assets to be reliable with minimal downtime and interruption. Performance is a criterion to measure how well the asset will behave over time. For example, the organization will need to make decisions to purchase durable and good quality products if they seek reliability. Performance is closely tied to cost and risk -- these three criteria are often considered a decision-making triad.
  • Aesthetics – People often assume that operations and maintenance (O&M) is principally about keeping the property looking good. While this is an important facet, it is only piece of a larger set of decision-making criteria. The challenge for the O&M team is that some stakeholders only have awareness of the things that they can see in the common areas and tend to suffer from the “out of sight out of mind” syndrome. In an context of budget constraints, aesthetic items are important but not necessarily urgent.
  • Sustainability - The triple bottom line (TBL) is a helpful framework for making decisions that are sustainable. This is achieved by finding the right “balance” between measurement of how the decision affects people (the community), the planet (the environment) and profit (financial incentives).
The figure below illustrates the triple-bottom line TBL between people, planet and profit with respect to the simple decision of acquiring a new vacuum cleaner.
  • People (Community) – The vacuum cleaner is required to effectively remove dust and other particulate from the carpets. This helps to improve the indoor air quality of the building for the benefit of the people who live and work in the building. Clean carpets also contribute to the aesthetic appearance of the property, which impacts upon community pride and reputation.
  • Planet (Environment) – The vacuum cleaner does not have a direct impact on the planet. Indirectly, however, it has environmental consequences when it comes to disposal of the parts, some of which should be recycled as appropriate. Furthermore, a good quality vacuum cleaner would be more efficient in its use of electricity over its operating lifecycle and therefore have a smaller energy footprint on the overall energy utilization of the building.
  • Profit (Finances) – While social housing is not motivated by profit, there are significant financial considerations to be made in operating efficiencies. A good quality, durable vacuum cleaner will last longer than a cheap one and will therefore have a positive affect on lowering overall operating costs (Opex) and extending the intervals between capital costs (Capex).
Decisions in the real world are seldom able to achieve a perfect score on each of the decision-making criteria. Inevitably, some trade-off occurs
A trade-off is defined as “a balance achieved between two desirable but incompatible features; a compromise.” A trade-off is considered appropriate if the organization understands where it is has made compromises and those compromises are in alignment with the organization’s objectives.

The next figure illustrates conceptually how an organization has made trade-offs between risk-cost-performance, between people-planet-profit, and between operational-tactical-strategic considerations. 

Decision Theories/Styles
Alignment across different decision-making criteria (such as risk, cost and performance) is required for ISO 55000 conformity
Fig. Alignment across different decision-making criteria (such as risk, cost and performance) is required for ISO 55000 conformity.

Retrofit of elevator hydraulic cylinder with PVC corrosion protection
Fig. Retrofit of elevator hydraulic cylinder with PVC corrosion protection.

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