Disciplined Agile

Types of Assets

An important philosophy for succeeding at asset management is to understand that you have more than one option at your disposal. There are many types of assets that you can reuse, as you see in Figure 1. First, assets fall into one of two categories: Tangible assets and intangible assets. Tangible assets are physical in nature and are made from atoms. Intangible assets are virtual in nature and are made from bits. Second, we distinguish between five levels of asset: Personal, templates & examples, components, large-scale components, and ways of working (WoW).

The left-hand arrow indicates the relative effectiveness of each category – component reuse is generally more valuable than template/example or personal reuse in practice. Similarly, the right-hand arrow indicates the relative difficulty of succeeding at each type of reuse. Personal and template/example reuse are relatively easy to achieve because you simply need to find the asset and work with it. Other forms of reuse become hard to achieve; with large-scale component reuse you need to procure or build the assets, both of which take time and money.

Asset Management Assets

Potential asset types

The asset categories, from most effective to least effective, are:

  1. Way of working (WoW). This includes descriptions of procedures and guidelines as well as automated processes such as regression test suites or even robotics.
  2. Large-scale components. A large-scale component is an assemblage of smaller components, where both scales of component are of interest to you.  Where the individual components bring potential value to your organization, the assemblage brings greater value than the sum of the values provided by the individual components.
  3. Components. The use of pre-built, fully encapsulated “components” that your teams employ in their work. Whether something is considered a component or a large-scale component depends on your context.  For a car manufacturing a vehicle is a large-scale component build from smaller components, whereas a car rental agency considers a vehicle to be a component that is part of their larger fleet.
  4. Templates & examples. This is the practice of using a common set of layouts, or examples of, common artifacts such as documents or slide decks that people create.  When it comes to tangible assets, this includes casts and dies.
  5. Personal. Individuals have their own cache of assets that they use regularly.  This may include example documents that they copy then update, their own horde of sticky notes or markers, their favorite tools, and so on.

Your organization may have assets in all ten combinations of asset type and category simultaneously or it may take advantage of only a subset.

Related Resources