The Benefits of Asset Assessment

In honor of July’s Box of the Month, we interviewed Pragmatic Institute instructor Steve Gaylor about asset assessment and tips for creating and maintaining an asset registry. Q) What are the assets we are assessing? A) To answer this we need to understand the purpose of the assessment. We are trying to identify things in our company that we can leverage to get to market faster and with less expense than if we had to start with a blank sheet of paper. With that background in mind, the assets could include knowledge of a process or industry, like a specialized understanding of chemical or physical properties of environments we work in. It could be skills developed working in a specific area. Certainly, it would include items of intellectual property and any patents. Of course, it could also be technology or products that we previously developed. We could leverage product components currently in the market or even ones that have been withdrawn. And we all have that sandbox where we play with capabilities that have never seen the light of day outside our office. All these things are assets we want to track and leverage in the creation of future products. Basically, we want to track anything we have within the company that will get us to market faster and with less expense than if we had to build from the ground up. Q) What is an asset registry and how do I create one? A) An asset registry is the physical record of the assets identified during the asset assessment. Think of it as an inventory of the assets in your organization. To create the registry, define a template that includes all the relevant information you want to capture about each asset. Pragmatic Institute has created an asset registry template to serve as a starting point for you. Once the registry format is defined, you can populate it with your available assets. There are a number of approaches to collecting the information. Some companies email a blank registry and the goals of the exercise and ask recipients to complete it on their own for their specific functional area. Other companies hold an informational meeting or webinar to explain the goals of the process and to answer any questions before they provide the registry template. The most effective process that I have seen for creating an asset registry is a kickoff meeting to explain the goals and objectives of the assessment, followed by face-to-face meetings with subject matter experts from the company. These could be experts in our markets, processes or technology. These face-to-face meetings create a sense of urgency and allow us to gain a better understanding of the company assets. Their interactive nature also allows for a more complete picture of the inventoried assets. They may even uncover assets that could have been overlooked if we simply filled out a form. Regardless of the method used to collect the data, all information should be consolidated into a single asset registry. This registry should be shared throughout the organization so that others can leverage the assets any time new projects are initiated. The asset registry should also be consulted when we are evaluating new opportunities to see if we have assets that may allow us to shorten time to market or reduce the project’s overall cost. One note of caution: Because of the asset registry’s strategic value and the proprietary nature of the information it contains, treat it as extremely confidential information. Q) How do I maintain an asset registry once I have created it? A) There are three critical information capture points to be aware of when maintaining the asset registry. The first is the initiation of a new project. Here we should capture any new assets that we plan to create during the project. Once the project is completed (or canceled) we should review the registry and update the status of any assets that were added to the registry at project kickoff.  We should also add any new assets that were created during the project that were not included at project kickoff. The third import milestone for the asset registry occurs when we sunset or withdraw a product from the market.  We need to review the registry and update the status of any assets that are in the registry that will be withdrawn from the market as a result of discontinuing the product. We should also perform a periodic review and verification of the information to make sure the registry is up to date and accurate. The periodic review should occur once every six or 12 months, depending on the pace of change and creation of new assets within the organization. Remember, the only thing worse than no asset registry is one that is out of date.

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