Accountability-who is responsible for ensuring that the asset is functional and providing the value for which it was purchased.
For infrastructure elements there will typically be several accountable people. For example, a database server might include the following accountabilities depending on functional role:
Device maintenance-IT administrator(s) responsible for the physical maintenance of the server hardware. This person may also be responsible for configuring that server with the core database application.
DBA-one or more people responsible for creating and maintaining the actual databases. This might include access control, table creation and maintenance, software updates and general database engine maintenance.
Data owners-the individual contributors responsible for ensuring that each database contains the right information for their respective purposes.
Continuity/disaster recovery-the person responsible for ensuring that database files are backed up and a plan is in place to restore or recover from unexpected loss.
The goal here is to provide quick and easy lookup of accountable people for both audit and business management purposes. Simple analysis enables asset managers to identify gaps in coverage and ensure input to asset decisions by key stakeholders.
For end-user devices or software, there may only be a single IT accountability-or the assignee and the accountable person may be the same. The goal here is the flexibility to track any and all people who may be accountable for content, configuration or maintenance of the asset.
Life-cycle status-where in its functional life cycle a particular asset is at the moment, and whether it's capable of providing its intended value. This is the foundation datum for reconciling the asset's planned use versus actual use.
Oddly, this is both the most important and the most neglected asset data point. If you know the current life-cycle state of an asset at any moment in time, you can intelligently plan IT update/replacement, budget, IMAC (install, move, add, change) and procurement activities.
For example, if you know that an asset is available but not assigned, you can manage internal stores and plan inventory levels-or identify key assets that are not providing direct value. If you know an asset was ordered but not received, you may need to track a shipment status. If you know that an asset is retired, you can begin physical recovery and disposal activities.
Assignment-who physically possesses the asset. This is distinctly different from ownership (financial burden) or accountability (who answers for asset integrity). Assignment tracks the actual possession-and presumable use-of the asset.
As obvious as this seems, many organizations can't physically verify either the presence or use of many key assets. In conjunction with life-cycle status, assignment data gives the organization the information needed to physically account for critical assets and ensure effective use.
For active commodity assets, accountability and assignment may be to the same person. For active service or network infrastructure assets they will tend to be different. For inactive assets, accountability may lie with the asset team and assignment may be a storeroom. Having the data to physically locate an asset closes the loop on accountability and many regulatory requirements.
The key issue here is to resist the urge to track too much asset information.
Starting with the KOALA factor will provide the core data most organizations need to demonstrate immediate and significant value to both IT and the business. Start small and track a few key elements, then expand asset data only to meet specific needs tied to specific accountabilities.
That will help tame the vast stew of available data and make it specifically and pragmatically useful.
Scott Parkin is a product manager at LANDesk Software, currently focusing on IT asset and service management solutions. Scott has been an active technology advocate for more than 20 years and has helped drive innovation around endpoint provisioning, standards management and corporate governance. He can be reached at Scott.Parkin@landesk.com.