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​​Data and information

Asset management information is used to inform and enable asset management activities. It is derived from three main categories of data: financial; physical; and operational data.

Financial data is asset data gathered and managed in accordance with financial policy and accounting standards. This is typically captured and managed in a FAR held by an agency’s finance team. Physical data captures asset attributes such as size, age, condition, location etc. and is typically held in a PAR. Operational data is asset data typically linked to maintenance activity (eg deferral maintenance), maintenance dates and personnel.

Asset management information systems are used to store and analyse asset data. An asset register is a database or spread-sheet within an asset management information system that enables storage of data (IIMM, 2011b, pg.8).

Why gather and analyse asset data?

Asset management data is a necessary foundation for most asset management activities (IIMM, 2011b, pg.8). Financial asset data ensures that assets, as they are acquired, are registered and subsequently treated according to financial policy and accounting standards.

Physical asset data is typically used to generate asset condition information. This information is used to inform and enable asset management programmes focused on asset maintenance, renewal and replacement requirements (IIMM, 2011b, pg.9). Asset condition information is also used as an indicator of asset risk. That is, what is the likelihood that the asset will physically fail and no longer be able to fulfil its function? (IIMM, 2011b, pg.9).

As lessee assets are mostly non-mechanical they typically require less maintenance over the course of their lives compared to other asset types, and have a low likelihood of physical failure. Also, because lessee assets are frequently replaced before the end of their physical life; either for reasons of aesthetics, or because of the adoption of new ways of working, or because of other organisational changes such as relocating to new premises, rehabilitation and renewal is less common.

Even when an organisation does not have a significant requirement for asset condition information holding appropriate physical asset data can enable agencies to better understand what assets they own and where they are located. This is fundamental to efficient and effective asset management. Physical asset data, if gathered and recorded at the appropriate level, can also be used to inform asset tracking, space-utilisation, space-planning and insurance activities. For agencies with larger portfolios of office accommodation and lessee assets especially, there are potentially significant cost and efficiency benefits to be gained by being effective in these areas.

How to gather and record asset data

All agencies are required to record financial asset data sufficient to adhere to their financial policy and meet accounting standards as they apply to capital assets. Some agencies also collect and hold physical asset data.

Developing a PAR and collecting physical asset data can involve a significant amount of staff time as well as cost. It is important to collect and hold only necessary data. The first step for agencies thinking about building a physical asset register therefore is to ask: what data is needed, why it is needed and how will it be used once it has been collected?

Asset Hierarchy and Classification

An asset hierarchy is a structure for dividing an asset base into appropriate classifications (IIMM, 2011b, pg.8). Agencies can use hierarchy and classifications to organise data, enabling efficient analysis and use of the data. Data can be organised by:

  • Group: the highest level categorisation of assets which are defined by their nature and location. For example interior finishes, services, and exterior works/sundries.
  • Component Type: asset or cluster of assets with a similar or identical function. For example, fixtures and fittings, security, and fire services.
  • Component: the detailed categorisation of assets. This level is characterised by an independent physical or functional identity. For example the fixtures and fittings asset type would include components desks, tables and chairs.

Refer to NAMs, 2006 for more information.

What data to collect and record and to what level?

Fixed asset register data

Government agencies are required to hold financial data on their lessee assets at a level which enables those assets to be registered, depreciated and disposed of in accordance with financial policy and accounting standards. The data fields to meet this requirement are typically:

  • Asset type classification: lowest level
  • Asset location: eg 222 Smith’s Lane
  • Asset description: eg Smith’s Lane fit-out
  • Unique Asset Identifier: eg 111234
  • Capitalisation date: eg 01/06/2010
  • Acquisition value: eg $2,100,000
  • Accumulated depreciation: eg $775,000
  • Book value: eg $1,325,000
  • Life (years): eg 10 years.

For many agencies the asset data in their FAR is the only lessee asset data that they collect and hold.

Physical Asset Register data

When developing PARs for lessee assets, agencies should collect data that locates and identifies assets:

  • by group, component type and component
  • by records core component attributes such as asset location or address, size and shape
  • identifies the supplier
  • records asset life and warranty information.

Some agencies also may choose to record financial asset data such as the acquisition price in their PAR to allow easy calculation of remaining book value.

Basic PAR fields:

  • Site address: eg 1 High Street
  • Unique lease identifier: eg 1234
  • Location (ie floor): eg Level 8
  • Asset Group: eg 789
  • Asset Component Type: eg Fixtures and Fittings
  • Asset Component: eg meeting table 1200 mm, round, white
  • Quantity: eg number of units
  • Supplier: eg XYZ Office Supply’s Ltd
  • Life (years): eg 10 years
  • Capitalisation date: eg 1/1/2010.

Additional PAR fields may be:

  • Asset Component serial number
  • Cost centre owning the component if decentralised purchasing
  • Fixed Asset Register ID cross-referencing the asset to the FAR
  • Condition rating
  • Replacement values
  • Warranty: eg 10 years
  • Acquisition value (purchase price per unit).

If a PAR is developed it is important that it is aligned back to the FAR, ie the PAR needs to be consistent with the FAR as the FAR is what is externally reported. The PAR and the FAR can be linked by a common fixed asset number, as shown above, to make any required reconciliation easier.

Data management and collection

How asset data will be managed and maintained should be addressed by agencies when determining information and associated data requirements. This is typically during development of the asset management strategy and asset management plan. A key consideration is the type of asset management information system required to store and analyse the data.

Agencies will typically store their financial and physical asset data in separate systems due to the differing goals and requirements of the finance and the facilities or asset management teams.

Financial asset data is usually stored in an agency’s financial management system, and specifically in the FAR. This data is recorded at a relatively high level (group and sometimes component type rather than component) and is frequently derived from a purchase invoice. The attributes of and level at which this data is recorded means that it is usually not able to be used to either inform or enable other asset management activities.

Agencies that hold physical asset data will typically do so in a spreadsheet environment or database system designed for asset management. It is desirable to utilise an asset management information system integrated with the agency’s lease management information system to allow easy cross referencing and location of the assets.