ITIL Case Study ® Managing Digital Inform

ITIL Case Study ® Managing Digital Inform

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White Paper
January 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets
Shirley Lacy, ConnectSphere

Frieda Midgley, Digital Continuity Project

Judith Riley, Digital Continuity Project

Nigel Williamson, Digital Continuity Project

© The Stationery Offi ce 2011

Content

s

Synopsis 3

Introduction 3

1 Information asset management 4

1.1 Why manage information assets? 4

2 What are the digital challenges? 4

2.1 Adapting to manage the growth in digital content and information 4

2.2 Understanding how digital information supports the business 5

2.3 Identifying digital information assets and their relationships 5

2.4 Ensuring digital continuity through business and technology change 5

2.5 Managing the liabilities and risks associated with information assets 5

2.6 Managing information across the supply chain 5

2.7 Reducing redundancy and duplication, and disposing of information 5

3 Where digital continuity fits in 5

3.1 Business or organisational change 6

3.2 Technical change 6

3.3 Identifying business needs and technical dependencies 7

3.4 ITIL principles that support digital continuity management 7

3.5 Organising for digital continuity 7

3.6 Financial management and service portfolio management 7

4 Using your IAR to understand the relationships between your information
assets, business requirements, and technical environment 8

4.1 Defining the scope of your IAR and identifying starting points 9

4.2 Designing your IAR 9

4.3 Adopting the ITIL asset and configuration management practices with the IAR 10

5 Using the IAR to improve the way you manage digital information 10

5.1 Planning for effective and efficient information asset management 10

5.2 Identifing risks to digital continuity 10

5.3 Identifying and planning the realisation of savings and efficiencies 11

5.4 Contracting with new IT service providers 11

5.5 Obligations on suppliers to use an IAR when contracting for IT services 11

6 Manage information assets over time, and during periods of change 12

6.1 Using the ITIL service lifecycle to manage digital continuity 12

7 Conclusion 13

Annex A Glossary of terms and definitions 14

Annex B Key roles and responsibilities 14

Annex C Managing digital continuity 15

Annex D Bibliography and references 17

Acknowledgements 17

Trademarks and statements 17

© The Stationery Office 2011

2 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 3

Synopsis
Information is a valuable asset and needs to be managed
as carefully as any other tangible asset, such as money or
equipment. In particular, you need to ensure that digital
information assets can be used as needed, for as long as
needed, to support business requirements. This is called
managing digital continuity.

This White Paper uses ITIL service management best practices
to explain the principles of providing services to business
customers that are fit for purpose, stable and reliable. It is
complementary guidance to ITIL on digital continuity.

This paper explains what IT service providers, and key points of
contact with external IT suppliers, need to do to manage digital
continuity in relation to their business activities.

In brief, you need to take action to make sure that your
technical environment adequately supports the digital
information your organization relies on. That means making
sure it supports the way your organization needs to use its
information, and provides sufficient functionality now and in
the future.

Key recommendations are as follows:

• Understand what information the business needs and how
that information is used in a business context.

• Define information assets by content and business use rather
than by what system holds the information.

• Define the scope of your information asset register (IAR).
Design it, then use it to improve the way you manage your
digital information.

• Use your IAR to help you to understand and record the
relationships and dependencies between your information
assets, business requirements and technical environment.

• Use your IAR when contracting with new IT service providers,
to ensure good information asset management. Through the
active management of the IAR in the IT services contract,
information assets become true configuration items. This will
help you to effectively manage and maintain digital
continuity, reducing risks as the technology and the
organization itself change.

As part of good information asset management we also
recommend that you assess the impact of asset, business or
IT change on digital continuity. Good change management is
essential if you are to ensure your information assets continue
to support your business requirements.

For more information visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
digitalcontinuity.

This White Paper provides complementary guidance to ITIL. For
more information visit www.itil-officialsite.com.

Introduction
‘Information is a valuable asset that must be safeguarded.
In the case of information held by public authorities and
businesses … people want to be certain that it is held
securely, maintained accurately, available when necessary
and used appropriately’
Sir Richard Mottram, Foreword, National Information
Assurance Strategy

Organizations depend on digital information to manage and
operate their business. This makes information an asset that
needs managing and protecting as carefully as more tangible
assets such as money or equipment. If you manage your
information assets well, you can operate legally and accountably,
improve customer and public services, and save or avoid costs.
Information asset management can deliver IT efficiencies. It
helps you to identify where you are providing unnecessary
support or where you have under-utilized capability.

If you do not manage your information assets well, you could
lose business-critical digital information. You could also lose
the ability to use digital information as you need to, with all
the associated financial and reputational costs. You could be
storing information that has no business value – and although
technology allows us to store more and more information cost-
effectively, this has knock-on costs which continue to grow.
These include the increased costs of maintaining and backing up
the data, and the need for more expensive technologies to find
and retrieve the right information in a timely fashion.

This White Paper provides introductory guidance for IT providers,
complementing ITIL guidance1. It explains how IT can support
the management of digital continuity; that is, the ability to use
digital information as needed, over time and following change.

It provides guidance on how to manage digital information
assets across an IT service supply chain. This includes what you
can do to identify opportunities and manage risk.

It explains what we mean by information assets, and introduces
the basic concepts and principles of managing them. It includes
advice on why and how to manage digital information assets
as a configuration item, linking into the information asset and
configuration management responsibilities covered in ITIL.

It outlines the obligations for contractors to maintain an IAR
for the duration of their contracts. It also summarizes key
recommendations from the UK government’s Digital Continuity
Project2.

1 ITIL is a Registered Trade Mark, and a Registered Community Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the US Patent and Trademark
Office. ITIL is a collection of best practice guidance on the management of IT services. It is a comprehensive framework from which organizations, and their agents,
can adopt and adapt their own practices and procedures.

2 The Digital Continuity Project is funded by central government and managed by The National Archives. It is developing a service that will help you to ensure digital
information is usable over time, and following change. For more information visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digitalcontinuity.

© The Stationery Office 2011

4 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

This White Paper will also be of use to anyone interested in
managing digital information assets in central government, the
wider public sector, and commercial organizations.

ITIL service management best practices referenced in
this White Paper

• Managing services through the service lifecycle

• Service portfolio and service catalogue management

• Financial management

• Demand management

• Capacity management

• Service level managem

ent

• Information security management

• IT service continuity management

• Availability management

• Service asset and configuration management

• Change management

• Incident management

1 Information asset
management

An information asset is information held by an
organization, categorized from the perspective of its content
and business use rather than by the IT system that holds it.
An information asset is information that has been grouped in
a way that enables you to protect, manage, share and exploit
it effectively. An organization will need to decide how to
group its information to ensure that the asset is both useful
and able to be effectively managed. An information asset can
contain structured or unstructured information and may
range from a single file to many files.

Information asset management is the effective
management, control and protection of information assets
within an organization. Asset management is the process
responsible for tracking and reporting the value and
ownership of assets throughout their lifecycle.

1.1 Why manage information assets?
Information can be a valuable asset, and it needs to be
managed as such. In this digital age, managing information
assets requires input and support from IT and the people
responsible for knowledge and information in the organization.

Good information asset management protects the information
your business relies on – and that means you can operate legally
and accountably, and take informed decisions. It protects you
from risk – the risk that you will lose information, or lose the
functionality required to use the information you have to
support your business requirements.

Specific IT benefits include:

• Understanding where you are maintaining IT to support
information no longer required by the organization. This will
enable you to take evidence-based cost-saving decisions; for
example, on standardizing applications and software, or
reducing the number of licences you pay for

• The potential for reducing storage costs. If you are keeping
only the information your business needs, this could lead to
reduced back-up costs and time savings, reduced electricity
costs and a need for fewer servers

• A clearer understanding of how your technical environment
needs to support the business. You will be helping to ensure
that business-critical information is usable, i.e. that you are
maintaining the required level of functionality

• More effective use of your IAR, with clearer responsibilities
for IT service providers, their customers, suppliers and
business sponsors.

2 What are the digital
challenges?

Understanding the digital challenges for each specific business
context helps all the parties to work together and map
information assets to business need.

2.1 Adapting to manage the growth in digital
content and information

Factors driving the growth of information include the increased
computerization of businesses, the improved ease of use, the
decreasing cost and increased availability of digital technology,
and internet applications for e-commerce and customer support.
This growth causes many challenges for IT teams, such as:

• Adopting new technologies and techniques to search, store
and secure digital information

• Supplying the right capacity at the right cost as the business
information needs and technology change

• Adapting to store and manage digital content and
information assets effectively and efficiently

• Meeting the green IT agenda during the rapid growth in
digital information

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 5

• Developing strategies to manage digital information
effectively throughout its lifecycle.

2.2 Understanding how digital information
supports the business

Users need information to work efficiently to deliver business
benefits effectively, and to operate legally, accountably and
transparently. One challenge is to know what information is
required, when, where, by whom, and how it is used (now and
in the future); also, how the underlying IT services and
infrastructure support the delivery of information to users over
time and through change.

2.3 Identifying digital information assets and
their relationships

Information is used in many ways and in many formats, through
different channels and interfaces. The challenge is to identify
information assets, their relationships and dependencies.
Without this understanding, it is difficult to manage the costs
and other impacts of change on information assets.

2.4 Ensuring digital continuity through
business and technology

change

Digital information is particularly vulnerable to change. It is
reliant on complex systems, formats and media to support it,
and the expertise and understanding of the people who
manage it. Although organizations have procedures to protect
and back up digital data, these will not necessarily ensure the
continuing completeness, availability and usability of digital
information. They cannot protect against changes in the
business and technical environments. The challenge is to ensure
that you can use digital information in the way that you need to
as the underlying IT changes, digital information ages, and
organizational structures and business needs change.

2.5 Managing the liabilities and risks
associated with information assets

Information that is not usable or disposed of at the appropriate
time can become a financial, reputational and legal liability; for
example, where there are concerns about privacy, security, and
intellectual property protection associated with digital
information assets.

2.6 Managing information across the supply
chain

Delivering services in today’s world often involves activities that
are carried out by multiple suppliers. This adds to the complexity
of the responsibilities and processes involved in managing data
and information across a supply chain.

2.7 Reducing redundancy and duplication,
and disposing of information

With the complexity of systems and IT services it is often
difficult to know what information to keep. Organizations often
either lack the confidence to make decisions and take action on
what to dispose of or archive, or they do not yet have in place
the systems and procedures to enable them to do this.

3 Where digital continuity
fits in

Complete This means that everything you need to use and
understand the information is there, including the content
and context, such as metadata – so, for example, you still
have links to external files or you have maintained important
connections between files and metadata.

Available This means you can find what you need and that
it can be opened with available technology – so, for example,
you have the metadata you need, or you have information in
versions that can be processed using available IT applications.

Usable This means that it is fit for purpose and can be used
in a way that meets the business needs of the organization –
so, for example, information is not locked into formats or
systems that restrict your ability to use or reuse it, or that
restrict the tools you can use to process it.

Digital continuity is the ability to use digital information for as
long as needed, to meet business requirements. Managing
digital continuity means making sure that anyone who needs
information can identify it, retrieve a copy, read, or otherwise
use the content as required. They will also be confident that the
information is complete, available and usable. To achieve this
you will need to make sure that your business needs, your
information assets and your technical services are aligned (see
Figure 1).

© The Stationery Office 2011

6 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

Digital continuity is about managing digital information
through change. Change of any kind puts digital information
at risk, because it alters the alignment between your business
requirements, your information and your technical environment.
When these things move out of alignment, you might lose
digital information, or the ability to use it as you need to.

3.1 Business or organizational change
If your organization is given new responsibilities, for example,
you might be required to do new things with your information.
If your IT or information management do not allow that to
happen, then you are at risk of losing digital continuity. That
could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your IT service
contract is not flexible enough, so making changes to meet your

new needs is too expensive. Or perhaps your metadata policy is
now inadequate, because it does not provide the rigorous audit
trail you now require.

3.2 Technical change
Changes to your IT environment can also impact on digital
continuity. You can lose essential bits of your information,
such as metadata, during transfer to a new IT system. Or you
could lose functionality if formats or applications are no longer
supported or are upgraded.

Technologies can also become obsolete. If you do not have a
plan in place to migrate at-risk information to new formats
or systems that provide the functionality you need, you could
easily lose digital continuity.

Technical Services and
Environment

You are maintaining
technical capability that

you don’t

need

You are maintaining
information assets that

you don’t need

You don’t have the
right technical

capability to use your
information assets to
meet your business

needs

You don’t have
the right (form
of) information
assets to meet
your business

need

You are
maintaining

technical
support for
information

assests that you
don’t need

Effective and
Efficient Information
Asset Management:

You have the right
information assets and

the right technical
capability to meet your

business need

You have business needs
that are not being met

Business Needs

Information Assets

Effective and
Efficient Information
Asset Management:

You have the right
information assets and
the right technical
capability to meet your
business need

Figure 1 Effective and efficient information asset management

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 7

Managing digital continuity means defining and managing
information from a content perspective and a technology
perspective.

3.3 Identifying business needs and technical
dependencies

Effective management of digital information assets means
that you have the right capabilities and resources to meet your
ongoing business needs, as shown in Figure 1.

This requires that:

• You understand how your organization needs to use its
information to support its business requirements (i.e. what
information you need, for how long, who needs to use it and
in what way)

• You then make sure that your technical environment and the
way you manage your information assets support the
identified business requirements.

Your IT should provide support for your information assets in
the way you need to use them – not just today, but as business
needs and technology change, and digital information ages.

The National Archives’ Digital Continuity project is developing a
service for the public sector that will support digital continuity
management. You can find guidance at www.nationalarchives.
gov.uk/recordsmanagement/dc-guidance.htm

3.4 ITIL principles that support digital
continuity management

ITIL defines a ‘service’ as a means of delivering value to
customers by facilitating the outcomes that customers want to
achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

If we consider a business service such as ‘payments’, the
business outcomes are making the right payments on time,
with the expected resources, and without any unexpected
costs or risk. The ‘payments’ business services are supported
by a number of technology services such as ‘information access
administration’, ‘database service’ and ‘storage administration’.
Managing the entire business service along with its underlying
components ensures that we are delivering the required
functionality (or utility – i.e. accurate payments) and service
levels (or warranty) to the business customer.

Managing digital continuity is about making sure that your
technical environment supports your organization to use its
digital information assets as it needs to, now and in the future.
This fits with the ITIL principles of delivering service utility and
warranty:

• Utility Delivering a service that has a positive effect on the
performance of tasks associated with desired business
outcomes. This is fitness for purpose.

• Warranty The positive effect is available when needed, in
sufficient capacity or magnitude, and dependable in terms of
continuity and security. This is fitness for use.

The following examples illustrate how ITIL is used by many IT
service providers to ensure that the warranty is delivered:

• Demand management and capacity management to
ensure that sufficient capacity is provided to deliver the
current and future demand for services; for example,
payment workload and digital storage needs

• Service level management to ensure that agreed service
level targets can be met; for example, performance levels for
a specified workload

• IT service continuity management to support business
continuity

• Availability management to ensure that all IT components
are appropriate to deliver the agreed service level targets

• Information security management to ensure the
confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organization’s
assets, information, data and IT services

• Incident management to restore service as quickly as
possible to users.

Managing digital continuity will help you to ensure that the
utility and warranty you are providing support the ongoing use
of digital information to fulfil business requirements, at the right
cost.

3.5 Organizing for digital continuity
Digital continuity should fit within a wider spectrum of activity
within your organization, including the appointment of a senior
sponsor for digital continuity who champions governance. The
senior sponsor may delegate responsibility for this to someone
like a chief information officer, head of knowledge and
information management or chief technology officer – that is,
someone who has the authority to escalate issues to board level
if required. Your organization may also have information asset
owners – senior individuals who have been given additional
responsibility for managing information risk. Every organization
is different, and job titles may vary.

We recommend that you work closely with other disciplines
to manage digital continuity effectively. Find out who is
responsible for knowledge and information in your organization
– they should understand their information assets and map
them against business requirements. You could also talk to your
enterprise architects or strategists, your information assurance
specialists, the people responsible for change management, and
procurement or contract managers.

Annex C provides more detail on these roles and their
responsibilities, and how what they do can support you.

3.6 Financial management and service
portfolio management

Financial management provides the business and IT with the
quantification, in financial terms, of the value of IT services,
the value of the assets used to provide those services, and
operational forecasts.

© The Stationery Office 2011

8 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

In ITIL, service portfolio management helps organizations to
consider all the relevant factors when deciding which IT services
to offer to which customers and which to withdraw from their
service portfolio. Robust service portfolio management must
factor in digital continuity. The process of managing digital
continuity will enable you to understand where your technology
is supporting unneeded information, where essential
information assets are not adequately supported by technology
(or are likely to become unsupported; for example, as a result
of technological obsolescence or changes to systems and
contracts), and where technology could improve information
asset usability.

The service portfolio can be a valuable tool in decision
making, supporting you to manage changes to information
assets, model the resource requirements required to manage
information assets and deliver digital continuity. Within the
service portfolio, the view of the operational services is the
service catalogue.

The service catalogue management process ensures that
information in the catalogue is accurate and reflects the current
details, status, interfaces and dependencies of all services that
are being run or being prepared to run in the live environment.
It helps to set the customers’ expectations of the value and
potential of their IT service providers.

4 Using your IAR to
understand the relationships
between your information
assets, business
requirements, and technical

environment

The five stages shown in Figure 2 provide a framework of the
actions your organization can take to help you assess and
improve the management of your digital information assets (for
more detail see Annex C). One of the principal ways you can
manage your digital information assets is by adapting your IAR.

The IAR is a conceptual rather than a physical entity. In practice,
your IAR is likely to consist of a number of separate registers,
documenting particular aspects of your digital information and
its environments. It might build on existing lists of information
assets or use the ITIL service asset and configuration
management process to link the various elements. This does
not matter, as long as you can understand what information
assets you have, how the business needs to use them, the
technical dependencies between them, and you can identify
the information assets dependent on each component of your
technical environment. Whatever way you develop your IAR,
you need to be able to use it to assess and manage the impact
of change.

Within an IT services environment, the IAR identifies the
information assets as distinct configuration items which relate
to the technology that enables them and the business outcomes
that they are required to support. Once the IT services IAR
is under active management (including with outsourced
IT suppliers), any impacts on the information assets can be

Figure 2 Key steps to improve the management of your information assets

1. Understand
the issues and

take action

2. Identify your
scope,

information
assets, how they

are used and their
technical

environment

3. Assess current
capability, risks,

opportunities and
implement

improvement

4. Manage
information assets

overtime and
through business
and technological

change

5. Establish and maintain the Information Asset Register (IAR)

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 9

more easily assessed at times of change. This ensures that the
business outcomes continue to be delivered, both at the time of
the change and for the duration of the IT services contract.

4.1 Defining the scope of your IAR and
identifying starting points

• Which information assets are you going to focus on initially?
Are there priority areas of the business, IT services or key
information assets that should be tackled first? For example,
new or business-critical services, their applications and
information assets and technology platform.

• What level of detail do you require? You may want to start
with a high-level overview, and take a phased approach to
developing the underlying detail.

• Are there plans to change or implement information systems
that would provide opportunities for developing sections of
your IAR?

• Are you due to renew or replace your service contract?
• Do you already have components of the IAR in place that

could be built upon?

4.2 Designing your IAR
• Decide how you will identify your information assets. How

will you define and classify them? How will you ensure that
each one you identify is unique? Who is the business owner
of each one? How will you quantify the value they provide to
the business? What do they cost to create and maintain?
Work with your knowledge and information management
team to understand what is currently being done and
whether it meets business needs. Roles are defined in Annex
B. If you do not have these specific roles in your organization,
find someone who has similar responsibilities or skills.

• Document the information asset content and context, where
the information is located, its current format and structure,
and relate this to the technical environment that supports it.

• Ensure that your IAR allows you to link what you know about
the business value and utility requirements of your
information asset with what you know about its technical
characteristics. This will inform decisions about how to
manage the continuity of your digital information assets
through change.

• Ensure that you can also understand what information assets
are dependent on each component of your technical
environment, so that you can see which information assets
may be affected by changes to your technology.

• Establish processes for updating this mapping, with regular
review periods to audit for completeness and effectiveness.

• Ensure that ownership and responsibility for maintaining the
IAR itself is clear. Ownership will probably rest with your
senior sponsor. Responsibility for maintenance will probably
be shared between the information assurance function and
the information asset owners in the business, as appropriate.

Case Study 1

An IT service provider did not understand how digital
information flowed through the business and suspected there
was a lot of duplication of information within applications. It
also wanted to use this knowledge to manage its IT assets
more cost-effectively, and to ensure that it was supporting
information that had real business value, rather than storing
huge volumes of data.

The service provider achieved this by establishing a new
configuration management system (CMS). As part of the
initial project assessment, data on digital information assets,
business services, IT services, applications and the rest of the
technical environment was gathered. It found that there were
over 200 applications in use, and for one application each
division had its own name for the same application. Once the
CMS was established it was easier to understand the impact
of changing technology on the information assets. So when
the time came to upgrade key applications, the need to
migrate information contents and keep them usable was
flagged and actioned.

The asset and configuration manager used the following ITIL
categories to help identify and categorize configuration items
(CIs) more effectively:

• Service lifecycle CIs that provide a picture of the service
provider’s services, how these services will be delivered,
what benefits are expected, at what cost, and when they
will be realized

• Service CIs such as:

– Service capability assets: management, organization,
processes, knowledge, people

– Service resource assets: financial capital, systems,
applications, information, data, infrastructure and
facilities, financial capital, people

– Service and process models

– Service package and service design package

– Release package

– Service acceptance criteria

• Organization CIs – Some documentation will define the
characteristics of a CI, whereas other documentation will
be a CI in its own right and will need to be controlled; for
example, the organization’s business strategy or policies

• Internal CIs comprising those delivered by individual
projects

• External CIs such as external services, external customer
or third-party requirements and agreements, releases
from suppliers or subcontractors

• Interface CIs that are required to deliver the end-to-end
service across a service provider interface.

The system was used on an operational basis to manage
information assets through technical, organizational and
business change.

© The Stationery Office 2011

10 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

4.3 Adopting the ITIL asset and configuration
management practices with the IAR

Many organizations have implemented the ITIL asset and
configuration management process as a way of maintaining
information about the configuration items required to deliver
an IT service, including their relationships with each other. This
configuration information is managed throughout the lifecycle
of the configuration item (for example, information asset).
Changes to every configuration item are approved through the
ITIL change management process. Implementing the change
includes updating the relevant configuration records, such as
the IAR.

Service providers that manage large and complex IT services
and infrastructures use a supporting system known as the
configuration management system (CMS). The CMS holds all
the information about CIs within the designated scope. For
example, a service CI (such as a web service) will include the
details such as supplier, cost, purchase date, renewal date for
licences and maintenance contracts, and it will be linked to
controlled documentation such as agreements and contracts.
The CMS maintains the relationships between all service
components and records for all related changes. At the data
level, the CMS will provide access to data in asset registers,
wherever possible, rather than duplicating data.

You need to expand ITIL asset and configuration management
approaches to include information assets as configuration items.
If you use a CMS make sure you include information assets,
such as web content, too.

5 Using the IAR to improve
the way you manage digital
information

Once you have established an IAR covering some or all of your
information assets, you can begin to use it to improve your
management of digital information, as follows.

5.1 Planning for effective and efficient
information asset management

• Use the mappings of dependencies in your IAR to
understand the potential impact of organizational or system
change.

• Ensure that your enterprise architecture planning and
implementation reflect the business requirements for your
information assets and the need to ensure you can still use
digital information after technical, organizational, or business
change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to build a
consideration of the long-term use you need from
information assets into IT system design and development,
to minimize the impact and cost of change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to plan the
migration of information assets to standardized technology
and open standards, wherever possible. This will ensure
information assets are future-proofed and less at risk from
change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to identify
where you can standardize the technology, software,
environment and formats you use to minimize reliance on
bespoke systems, proprietary software or complex formats.
This will make your technology environment easier to
manage and ensure that changes have minimal impact on
digital continuity.

5.2 Identifying risks to digital continuity
• Identify the information assets that you need to use, but are

currently insufficiently supported by the right technology and
so do not efficiently meet your business requirements – this
is an area of risk to your digital continuity.

• Assess the impact of business and technology change on the
usability of digital information.

• Identify potential points of failure and vulnerability when
designing the availability and continuity for new and
changed services.

Case Study 2

A consultant helped a bank, a city council and a rail operator
to establish a strategy for digital continuity that would
guarantee the availability of key IT services during business
and technology change projects. In the first phase, ITIL best
practices were used to:

• Establish a service portfolio management process. The
process ensured that the investment case for proposed
new and changed services covered all the lifecycle costs
of the service including: maintenance, up to three
platform and format changes during the lifetime of the
service, and a budget for disposal of service assets
including the information assets.

• Integrate the existing IT change management process
with the IAR and the CMS to provide a solid framework
for managing changes to all digital information assets.

• Manage all changes to the IAR and their storage locations
through the IT change management.

• Establish a process to check the progress of projects
against agreed financial targets, risk profile, business
utility requirements and the service level targets process
as services progressed through service design, service
transition and into live operation.

• Improve the supplier management process to ensure that
all new and changed contracts with third parties clearly
defined the accountability and responsibilities of both
parties when managing changes to IT services, the
technical environment and updating the information asset
register.

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 11

5.3 Identifying and planning the realization
of savings and efficiencies

• Identify information assets that are no longer required to
meet your business needs (or no longer required in their
current form), and technology capability and support that
are no longer required.

• Dispose of any information assets that you no longer

need.

• Dispose of any technology capability that you no longer

need.

• Identify opportunities to downgrade the technology you use
to access information or migrate information to different
formats, so that your technology mirrors your needs, saving
money on expensive systems, unnecessary functionality or
high availability.

• Move the information assets to cheaper, more efficient and
effective storage, de-duplicating assets.

5.4 Contracting with new IT service providers
• Through the active management of the IAR in the IT services

contract, the information assets become true configuration
items and the organization is able to effectively manage and
maintain digital continuity, reducing risks as the technology
and the organization itself change.

• The OGC model agreement for IT services now includes
reference to an IAR as one of the registers to be maintained
as part of the service configuration management. The IAR
needs to be created by the contracting authority. It is then
maintained by the contractor, who has to assess the impact
of any changes on the usability requirements defined for the
information assets.

• In the contract service description, the services must be
mapped to the information assets that relate to the delivery
of that service in order to deliver the utility (i.e. business
outcomes) required.

• The IAR should be initially created by the contracting
authority prior to procurement, used in the due diligence
process and updated or refined during the contract
negotiations.

• Once the IT services contract is in place, the IAR is referenced
from the contract, and is maintained by the contactor. The
model contract contains several clauses which detail rights or
responsibilities in relation to the IAR. In summary they are as
follows:

– The contractor is obligated to ensure that the IAR is
maintained.

– Any changes to the IAR should go through the
operational change procedure or the contract change
procedure.

– All changes which go through the operational change
procedure or the contract change procedure will
explicitly address the impact on the IAR.

– The authority has the right to audit the IAR for
completeness and accuracy.

5.5 Obligations on suppliers to use an IAR
when contracting for IT services

The OGC model agreement for ICT services includes an
obligation for the contractor to maintain an IAR for the duration
of the contract. There also needs to be agreement on the
approach to:

• Managing changes to the IT services, technology
environments and information assets between the contractor
and the authority3

• Sharing asset and configuration management information
where this facilitates more effective change planning and
impact assessment of changes.

Benefits of using an IAR when contracting for IT
services
The following benefits for both the contractor and the
contracting authority can be derived from using the IAR during
procurement and management of IT services:

• Clear definition of the information assets that a new
contractor will be expected to support in relation to
delivering the service, leading to clarity and understanding
between both parties on the service provision.

• Appropriate service design that fully meets business
requirements for information and that takes into account any
legacy technology issues.

• The flexibility required to keep digital information usable is
built in to service design, so making change less costly – for
example, by moving towards open standards-based design,
rather than bespoke systems.

• Early identification of potential digital continuity issues
during procurement, leading to agreement on issue
resolutions during the solution design phase rather than
relying on post-contract change control – this is more
economic and carries a lower technical risk.

• Improved ability to make joint decisions about IT changes.
• Greater change success rate; changes can be implemented

effectively and efficiently with minimal disruption to the live
services.

• Greater ability to identify and eliminate redundant data,
leading to cost and process savings.

• Greater ability to identify redundant licensing, leading to cost
and process savings.

• Greater ability to identify uneconomic subsystems, leading to
cost and process savings by identifying alternative file
formats and licensing options.

• Reduced risk of inadvertent digital continuity issues being
introduced by change through the life of the agreement.

• Once the IAR exists it can be used in subsequent
procurements and due diligence exercises.

3 By ’authority’ and ‘contracting authority’ we mean the organization contracting the services required.

© The Stationery Office 2011

12 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

6 Manage information assets
over time, and during
periods of change

As part of good information asset management you must assess
the impact of asset, business management or IT change on
digital continuity and the availability of IT services to ensure your
information assets continue to support your business needs and
to reduce the likelihood of continuity issues arising. Figure 3
shows how to use the ITIL service lifecycle to achieve this.

6.1 Using the ITIL service lifecycle to manage
digital continuity

Many organizations are adopting the ITIL service lifecycle (see
Figure 3) to enable them to manage business and technology
changes more effectively and efficiently. You can use the ITIL
service lifecycle to help you to manage digital information assets
through business and technology change.

The service lifecycle contains five elements as shown in Figure
3, each of which rely on service principles, processes, roles
and performance measures. Each part of the lifecycle exerts

Co
mp

lem
entary Publications

Web Support Serv
ice

s

ITIL

Continual Service

Improvement

Continual Service

Im
provem

ent

Co
nt

in
ua

l S
er

vi
ce

Im
pr

ov
em

en
t

Service
Design

Service
Strategy

Service
Transition

Service
Operation

Figure 3 The ITIL service lifecycle

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 13

influence on the other and relies on the other for inputs and
feedback. A constant set of checks and balances throughout
the service lifecycle ensures that as business demand changes
with business need, the services can adapt and respond
effectively to them. The service lifecycle stages and guidance
are as follows:

1. Service strategy establishes an overall strategy for IT
services and for IT service management. It begins with
understanding the organization’s objectives and customer
needs and how to create value for customers. Service
strategy matches the service offerings to customer needs.
It defines the requirements, capabilities and resources to
deliver the service offerings successfully. The costs and risks
associated with service delivery also need to be matched to
the value delivered to the customer.

2. Service design covers the design principles and methods
for converting strategic objectives into portfolios of services
and service assets. It ensures that new and changed services
are designed effectively to meet customer expectations.
It includes the changes necessary to assure continuity of
services, achievement of service levels, and conformance to
standards and regulations. It guides organizations on how
to develop capabilities for service management including
the service management system, measurement method,
technology and processes.

3. Service transition the service design is built, tested
and deployed into production with minimal unwanted
consequences. It covers the transition of an organization
from one state to another while controlling risk and
supporting organizational knowledge for decision support.
It provides guidance on managing changes, release
and deployment management, controlling assets and
configurations, service validation and testing.

4. Service operation includes guidance on achieving
effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery and support
of operational services to ensure value for the customer,
user and service provider. It provides knowledge for
operations managers and practitioners to make better
decisions in areas such as managing the availability of
services, controlling demand, optimizing capacity utilization,
scheduling of operations and avoiding or resolving service
incidents and managing problems.

5. Continual service improvement provides guidance
in measuring and improving the services to create and
maintain value for customers. It combines principles,
practices and methods from quality management, change
management and capability improvement.

7 Conclusion
IT service providers and those managing outsourced IT have an
active role to play in managing digital continuity – ensuring that
the technical environment adequately supports the information
assets that the organization relies on, and supports the way the
organization needs to use that information after change.

To achieve this we recommend that you:

• Understand the business needs for information and its
context of use

• Define information assets by content and business use rather
than by the system that holds the information

• Define the scope of an IAR, design it, and use it to improve
the way you manage your digital information (using existing
configuration management approaches where possible)

• Use your IAR to help you to understand and record the
relationship and dependencies between your information
assets, business requirements and technical environment

• Use your IAR when contracting with new IT service providers,
to ensure good information asset management.

In this way, information assets become true configuration
items and you will be able to effectively manage and maintain
digital continuity, reducing risks as the technology and the
organization itself changes.

The changes we suggest you make to your IAR will enable you
to collate the information you need to:

• Identify information assets that you need to use, but that are
currently unsupported by the right technology and so do not
meet your business requirements

• Understand the potential impact of organizational or system
change

• Ensure that your enterprise architecture planning and
implementation reflects how your business needs to use its
information assets

• Build the long-term business requirements for information
use into IT system design and development, to minimize the
impact and cost of change

• Plan the migration of information assets to standardized
technology and open standards wherever possible

• Identify where you can standardize your technology
software, environment and formats used to minimize reliance
on bespoke systems, proprietary software or complex
formats. This will make your technology environment easier
to manage and ensure that changes have minimal impact on
digital continuity

• Identify and plan the realization of savings and efficiencies by
ensuring that your technology mirrors your business
requirements for information use. In particular you may be
able to:

© The Stationery Office 2011

14 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

– Identify technology that is supporting unneeded
information assets, allowing you to dispose of any
surplus technology capacity

– Identify opportunities to downgrade the technology
you use to access information or migrate it to different
formats

– Move information assets to cheaper, more efficient and
effective storage, avoiding duplication of assets.

You can find more information about managing digital
continuity at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digitalcontinuity

Annex A Glossary of terms and
definitions

asset Any resource or capability. Assets of a
service provider include anything that
could contribute to the delivery of a
service. Assets can be one of the following
types: management, organization, process,
knowledge, people, information, applications,
infrastructure, and financial capital.

Source: ITIL Service Strategy

An information asset is information held
by an organization, categorized from the
perspective of its content and business use
rather than by the IT system that holds it.
Information assets could be single or logical
groupings of files, data sets or databases,
and include both the digital object and
associated metadata.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

digital continuity The ability to access and use your digital
information assets, in the way you need to,
for as long as you need to, over time and
through change.

Achieving digital continuity means ensuring
your information assets are complete,
available and usable through the alignment
of business requirements, information assets
and technical environment.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

digital The inability to read a digital object because
obsolescence the software, hardware or systems required

are no longer available or are no longer
supported. Digital obsolescence may result
from the supplier no longer trading, having
ceased support or only supporting newer
versions of its products. Digital obsolescence
may lead to incompatibility or lack of

interoperability. The term can also be applied
to specifically to hardware when it is known
as technical obsolescence.

Source: Wikipedia

digital The long-term archival management of digital
preservation information assets selected for their historical

value, once they have passed out of business
ownership.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

The long-term, error-free storage of digital
information, with means for retrieval and
interpretation, for the entire time span the
information is required for.

Source: Wikipedia

Annex B Key roles and
responsibilities

Identifying the right roles and responsibilities
in the organization
Ensuring effective management of information assets requires
the clear allocation of responsibilities within an organization to
provide:

• Strategic ownership and accountability, to secure
commitment and action from the right people, to realize
business benefits, to manage information risk and ensure
good governance throughout the information lifecycle, and
to drive a culture of effective information management

• Ongoing planning and action, and collaboration across the
business, and across information management, information
assurance and IT functions

• Clear business ownership of and accountability for
information assets, to ensure that each one is managed in a
way that is consistent with business need.

The exact shape of this framework will vary for each
organization, but key roles and functions are outlined below.

Key roles in managing information assets
Senior sponsor for digital continuity champions appropriate
governance and action at the right levels in the organization
and across appropriate business units. The senior sponsor will
be the senior business owner for digital continuity across the
organization, and may be your senior information risk owner or
another board member. The senior sponsor will appoint
someone (for example, a ‘senior responsible owner’) to take
forward action on digital continuity.

Senior responsible owner for digital continuity will have
delegated authority from the senior sponsor and should have
a clear route for escalating issues to board level as necessary.
Who takes this role will depend on your organization; it could
be your chief information officer, head of knowledge and

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 15

information management, chief technology officer or another
person with the remit for managing digital information,
information technology or information risk.

Information asset owners ‘are senior individuals involved in
running the relevant business. Their role is to understand what
information is held, what is added and what is removed, how
information is moved, who has access and why, and how it can
be properly shared and exploited. As a result they are able to
understand and address risks to the information, and ensure
that information is fully utilised’
UK Cabinet Office Guidance on Mandatory Roles

Functions and roles that collaborate to manage
information assets
• Knowledge, information and records managers work

with information asset owners to define how the business
needs to use its information assets, now and over time, and
ensure that information management supports this.

• Information assurance specialists ensure digital
continuity is addressed as part of the spectrum of
information risk.

• IT managers ensure the organization’s technical
environment enables the continuity of information assets in
line with the business requirement, over time and through
change.

• Enterprise architects/strategists ensure that enterprise
architecture and/or IT strategies properly account for the
ongoing business need to use information over time and
through change.

• Business change managers, project and programme
managers ensure that digital continuity is appropriately
taken into account in any business change initiative, through
design, implementation and test phases.

• Procurement, commercial and contract managers
ensure that appropriate responsibility for identifying and
managing continuity issues is clearly defined in supplier
contracts, and that suppliers deliver on their obligations.

Annex C Managing digital
continuity

The key stages shown in Figure 2, which is shown again here,
provide a framework of actions your organization can take to
help you assess and improve the management of your digital
information assets. One of the principal ways you can manage
your digital information assets is by adapting your IAR.

Step 1 Understand the issues and take action
• Ensure your corporate board and senior information risk

owner are aware of the need to manage digital information
assets, and understand that risk to digital continuity is a key
information risk.

• Assign a senior responsible owner for managing digital
information assets and their continuity.

• Ensure information technology, information assurance and
information management understand their responsibilities in
managing digital information assets.

• Establish a multi-disciplinary team to take action.
• Engage IT providers on the issues, and their responsibilities.
• Include managing digital continuity as a driver in relevant

strategies.

• Build a business case for further action.

1. Understand
the issues and
take action
2. Identify your
scope,
information
assets, how they
are used and their
technical
environment
3. Assess current
capability, risks,
opportunities and
implement
improvement
4. Manage
information assets
overtime and
through business
and technological
change

5. Establish and maintain the Information Asset Register (IAR)

Figure 2 Key steps to improve the management of your information assets

© The Stationery Office 2011

16 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

Step 2 Identify your scope, information assets,
how they are used and their technical
environment

• Identify your information assets in order to understand what
information you have, and identify the business owner of
each asset.

• Define how your business needs to use the information it
has. Understand how each information asset will be used
through its lifecycle and what value it will provide to the
business.

• Understand the technical environment supporting your
information assets.

• Ensure your information assets have accountable owners.
• Compile an IAR, mapping the relationships and

dependencies between your business needs, information
assets and the technology that supports you in using them in
the way that you need to.

Step 3 Assess your current capability and
implement improvements

• Identify how you will assess and manage risk to digital
continuity within your existing information risk management
procedures, and what additional provision might be
necessary.

• Assess the organization’s capability to manage digital
information assets (using comparisons to international
standards, ITIL and/or the CESG Information Assurance
Maturity Model).

• Assess the risks to digital continuity of your current approach
to managing information assets and the opportunities that
would be provided by managing them more effectively.

• Create and implement a prioritized action plan to improve
your information asset management.

• Improve your project management, IT service management
and change management processes to assess impact on and
risk to digital continuity as part of their standard procedure.

• Embed ongoing risk assessment and continual improvement.
• Identify savings and efficiencies. Dispose of the information

assets and supporting IT that you do not really need and/or
reduce your capability to the required level.

Step 4 Manage information assets over time,
and through business and technological
change

• Reflect digital continuity in business plans and enterprise
architectures to ensure that you are less likely to lose digital
continuity.

• Maintain a good understanding of the business use that your
information assets support, so that you have the confidence
to make the right decisions on what you can archive or
downgrade to reduce maintenance costs.

• Assess the impact of organizational or business change on
digital continuity to ensure your information assets continue
to support your business needs and to avoid getting left with
the cost of legacy data, costly equipment or unexpected
disposal costs.

• Assess the impact of asset, business management or IT
change on digital continuity and the availability of IT services
to ensure your information assets continue to support your
business needs and to reduce the likelihood of continuity
issues arising.

• Where appropriate, aim to standardize your technical
environment to make your technical environment easier to
manage. Ensure that the way you manage metadata, audit
data, accessibility and retrievability of information, and data
quality supports digital continuity.

• Monitor and resolve incidents and problems.

Using ITIL’s IT service continuity management
process to manage digital continuity
This process supports business continuity management (BCM)
and helps you to manage risks that could seriously affect IT
services and the related information assets. It ensures that you
can always provide minimum agreed service levels, by reducing
the risk to an acceptable level and planning for the recovery of
IT services. IT service continuity management (ITSCM) includes:

• The agreement of the scope of the ITSCM process and the
policies adopted

• Business impact analysis to quantify the impact that loss of IT
service would have on the business

• Risk analysis – the risk identification and risk assessment to
identify potential threats to continuity and the likelihood of
the threats becoming reality. This includes taking measures
to manage the identified threats where cost-justified

• Production of an overall ITSCM strategy that is integrated
into the BCM strategy. This is likely to include elements of
risk reduction as well as selection of appropriate and
comprehensive recovery options

• Production of ITSCM plans, which are integrated with the
overall BCM plans

• Testing of the plans
• The ongoing operation and maintenance of the plans.
You need to consider digital continuity in your business and IT
continuity management. Business impact analysis is the activity
that identifies vital business functions and their dependencies.
These dependencies may include suppliers, people, other
business processes and IT services that are useful for the
information asset register.

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 17

Annex D Bibliography and
references

National Information Assurance Strategy. Available at
www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/csia/
assets/nia_strategy

DOD 5015.2 US Government Electronic Records Management
Standard. Available at www.defense.gov/webmasters/
policy/dodd50152p

See also Electronic Records Management Software Applications
Design Criteria Standard available at www.js.pentagon.mil/
whs/directives/corres/pdf/501502std and ‘Records
management’ available at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
records_management

Governance Processes and the Management of Organisational
Changes to Provide Appropriate Risk Management and
Continuity Strategies. Available at www.nationalarchives.
gov.uk/digitalcontinuity

UK Cabinet Office Guidance on Mandatory Roles. Available at
www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/45149/guidance_on_
mandatory_roles

ITIL best practice information including ITIL introduction,
publications, qualifications and glossary. Available at
www.itil-officialsite.com

Acknowledgements

Authors
Shirley Lacy, ConnectSphere

Frieda Midgley, Digital Continuity Project
Judith Riley, Digital Continuity Project
Nigel Williamson, Digital Continuity Project

Acknowledgement to Digital Continuity Project

Sourced by TSO and published on
www.best-management-practice.com

Our White Paper series should not be taken as constituting
advice of any sort and no liability is accepted for any loss
resulting from use of or reliance on its content. While every
effort is made to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the
information, TSO cannot accept responsibility for errors,
omissions or inaccuracies. Content, diagrams, logos and jackets
are correct at time of going to press but may be subject to
change without notice.

© Copyright TSO. Reproduction in full or part is prohibited
without prior consent from the author.

Trademarks and statements
ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of Government
Commerce in the United Kingdom and other countries.

The Swirl logo™ is a Trade Mark of the Office of Government
Commerce.

The OGC logo® is a Registered Trade Mark of the Office of
Government Commerce in the United Kingdom.

White Paper
January 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets
Shirley Lacy, ConnectSphere

Frieda Midgley, Digital Continuity Project

Judith Riley, Digital Continuity Project

Nigel Williamson, Digital Continuity Project

© The Stationery Offi ce 2011

Content

s

Synopsis 3

Introduction 3

1 Information asset management 4

1.1 Why manage information assets? 4

2 What are the digital challenges? 4

2.1 Adapting to manage the growth in digital content and information 4

2.2 Understanding how digital information supports the business 5

2.3 Identifying digital information assets and their relationships 5

2.4 Ensuring digital continuity through business and technology change 5

2.5 Managing the liabilities and risks associated with information assets 5

2.6 Managing information across the supply chain 5

2.7 Reducing redundancy and duplication, and disposing of information 5

3 Where digital continuity fits in 5

3.1 Business or organisational change 6

3.2 Technical change 6

3.3 Identifying business needs and technical dependencies 7

3.4 ITIL principles that support digital continuity management 7

3.5 Organising for digital continuity 7

3.6 Financial management and service portfolio management 7

4 Using your IAR to understand the relationships between your information
assets, business requirements, and technical environment 8

4.1 Defining the scope of your IAR and identifying starting points 9

4.2 Designing your IAR 9

4.3 Adopting the ITIL asset and configuration management practices with the IAR 10

5 Using the IAR to improve the way you manage digital information 10

5.1 Planning for effective and efficient information asset management 10

5.2 Identifing risks to digital continuity 10

5.3 Identifying and planning the realisation of savings and efficiencies 11

5.4 Contracting with new IT service providers 11

5.5 Obligations on suppliers to use an IAR when contracting for IT services 11

6 Manage information assets over time, and during periods of change 12

6.1 Using the ITIL service lifecycle to manage digital continuity 12

7 Conclusion 13

Annex A Glossary of terms and definitions 14

Annex B Key roles and responsibilities 14

Annex C Managing digital continuity 15

Annex D Bibliography and references 17

Acknowledgements 17

Trademarks and statements 17

© The Stationery Office 2011

2 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 3

Synopsis
Information is a valuable asset and needs to be managed
as carefully as any other tangible asset, such as money or
equipment. In particular, you need to ensure that digital
information assets can be used as needed, for as long as
needed, to support business requirements. This is called
managing digital continuity.

This White Paper uses ITIL service management best practices
to explain the principles of providing services to business
customers that are fit for purpose, stable and reliable. It is
complementary guidance to ITIL on digital continuity.

This paper explains what IT service providers, and key points of
contact with external IT suppliers, need to do to manage digital
continuity in relation to their business activities.

In brief, you need to take action to make sure that your
technical environment adequately supports the digital
information your organization relies on. That means making
sure it supports the way your organization needs to use its
information, and provides sufficient functionality now and in
the future.

Key recommendations are as follows:

• Understand what information the business needs and how
that information is used in a business context.

• Define information assets by content and business use rather
than by what system holds the information.

• Define the scope of your information asset register (IAR).
Design it, then use it to improve the way you manage your
digital information.

• Use your IAR to help you to understand and record the
relationships and dependencies between your information
assets, business requirements and technical environment.

• Use your IAR when contracting with new IT service providers,
to ensure good information asset management. Through the
active management of the IAR in the IT services contract,
information assets become true configuration items. This will
help you to effectively manage and maintain digital
continuity, reducing risks as the technology and the
organization itself change.

As part of good information asset management we also
recommend that you assess the impact of asset, business or
IT change on digital continuity. Good change management is
essential if you are to ensure your information assets continue
to support your business requirements.

For more information visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
digitalcontinuity.

This White Paper provides complementary guidance to ITIL. For
more information visit www.itil-officialsite.com.

Introduction
‘Information is a valuable asset that must be safeguarded.
In the case of information held by public authorities and
businesses … people want to be certain that it is held
securely, maintained accurately, available when necessary
and used appropriately’
Sir Richard Mottram, Foreword, National Information
Assurance Strategy

Organizations depend on digital information to manage and
operate their business. This makes information an asset that
needs managing and protecting as carefully as more tangible
assets such as money or equipment. If you manage your
information assets well, you can operate legally and accountably,
improve customer and public services, and save or avoid costs.
Information asset management can deliver IT efficiencies. It
helps you to identify where you are providing unnecessary
support or where you have under-utilized capability.

If you do not manage your information assets well, you could
lose business-critical digital information. You could also lose
the ability to use digital information as you need to, with all
the associated financial and reputational costs. You could be
storing information that has no business value – and although
technology allows us to store more and more information cost-
effectively, this has knock-on costs which continue to grow.
These include the increased costs of maintaining and backing up
the data, and the need for more expensive technologies to find
and retrieve the right information in a timely fashion.

This White Paper provides introductory guidance for IT providers,
complementing ITIL guidance1. It explains how IT can support
the management of digital continuity; that is, the ability to use
digital information as needed, over time and following change.

It provides guidance on how to manage digital information
assets across an IT service supply chain. This includes what you
can do to identify opportunities and manage risk.

It explains what we mean by information assets, and introduces
the basic concepts and principles of managing them. It includes
advice on why and how to manage digital information assets
as a configuration item, linking into the information asset and
configuration management responsibilities covered in ITIL.

It outlines the obligations for contractors to maintain an IAR
for the duration of their contracts. It also summarizes key
recommendations from the UK government’s Digital Continuity
Project2.

1 ITIL is a Registered Trade Mark, and a Registered Community Trade Mark of the Office of Government Commerce, and is registered in the US Patent and Trademark
Office. ITIL is a collection of best practice guidance on the management of IT services. It is a comprehensive framework from which organizations, and their agents,
can adopt and adapt their own practices and procedures.

2 The Digital Continuity Project is funded by central government and managed by The National Archives. It is developing a service that will help you to ensure digital
information is usable over time, and following change. For more information visit www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digitalcontinuity.

© The Stationery Office 2011

4 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

This White Paper will also be of use to anyone interested in
managing digital information assets in central government, the
wider public sector, and commercial organizations.

ITIL service management best practices referenced in
this White Paper

• Managing services through the service lifecycle

• Service portfolio and service catalogue management

• Financial management

• Demand management

• Capacity management

• Service level managem

ent

• Information security management

• IT service continuity management

• Availability management

• Service asset and configuration management

• Change management

• Incident management

1 Information asset
management

An information asset is information held by an
organization, categorized from the perspective of its content
and business use rather than by the IT system that holds it.
An information asset is information that has been grouped in
a way that enables you to protect, manage, share and exploit
it effectively. An organization will need to decide how to
group its information to ensure that the asset is both useful
and able to be effectively managed. An information asset can
contain structured or unstructured information and may
range from a single file to many files.

Information asset management is the effective
management, control and protection of information assets
within an organization. Asset management is the process
responsible for tracking and reporting the value and
ownership of assets throughout their lifecycle.

1.1 Why manage information assets?
Information can be a valuable asset, and it needs to be
managed as such. In this digital age, managing information
assets requires input and support from IT and the people
responsible for knowledge and information in the organization.

Good information asset management protects the information
your business relies on – and that means you can operate legally
and accountably, and take informed decisions. It protects you
from risk – the risk that you will lose information, or lose the
functionality required to use the information you have to
support your business requirements.

Specific IT benefits include:

• Understanding where you are maintaining IT to support
information no longer required by the organization. This will
enable you to take evidence-based cost-saving decisions; for
example, on standardizing applications and software, or
reducing the number of licences you pay for

• The potential for reducing storage costs. If you are keeping
only the information your business needs, this could lead to
reduced back-up costs and time savings, reduced electricity
costs and a need for fewer servers

• A clearer understanding of how your technical environment
needs to support the business. You will be helping to ensure
that business-critical information is usable, i.e. that you are
maintaining the required level of functionality

• More effective use of your IAR, with clearer responsibilities
for IT service providers, their customers, suppliers and
business sponsors.

2 What are the digital
challenges?

Understanding the digital challenges for each specific business
context helps all the parties to work together and map
information assets to business need.

2.1 Adapting to manage the growth in digital
content and information

Factors driving the growth of information include the increased
computerization of businesses, the improved ease of use, the
decreasing cost and increased availability of digital technology,
and internet applications for e-commerce and customer support.
This growth causes many challenges for IT teams, such as:

• Adopting new technologies and techniques to search, store
and secure digital information

• Supplying the right capacity at the right cost as the business
information needs and technology change

• Adapting to store and manage digital content and
information assets effectively and efficiently

• Meeting the green IT agenda during the rapid growth in
digital information

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 5

• Developing strategies to manage digital information
effectively throughout its lifecycle.

2.2 Understanding how digital information
supports the business

Users need information to work efficiently to deliver business
benefits effectively, and to operate legally, accountably and
transparently. One challenge is to know what information is
required, when, where, by whom, and how it is used (now and
in the future); also, how the underlying IT services and
infrastructure support the delivery of information to users over
time and through change.

2.3 Identifying digital information assets and
their relationships

Information is used in many ways and in many formats, through
different channels and interfaces. The challenge is to identify
information assets, their relationships and dependencies.
Without this understanding, it is difficult to manage the costs
and other impacts of change on information assets.

2.4 Ensuring digital continuity through
business and technology

change

Digital information is particularly vulnerable to change. It is
reliant on complex systems, formats and media to support it,
and the expertise and understanding of the people who
manage it. Although organizations have procedures to protect
and back up digital data, these will not necessarily ensure the
continuing completeness, availability and usability of digital
information. They cannot protect against changes in the
business and technical environments. The challenge is to ensure
that you can use digital information in the way that you need to
as the underlying IT changes, digital information ages, and
organizational structures and business needs change.

2.5 Managing the liabilities and risks
associated with information assets

Information that is not usable or disposed of at the appropriate
time can become a financial, reputational and legal liability; for
example, where there are concerns about privacy, security, and
intellectual property protection associated with digital
information assets.

2.6 Managing information across the supply
chain

Delivering services in today’s world often involves activities that
are carried out by multiple suppliers. This adds to the complexity
of the responsibilities and processes involved in managing data
and information across a supply chain.

2.7 Reducing redundancy and duplication,
and disposing of information

With the complexity of systems and IT services it is often
difficult to know what information to keep. Organizations often
either lack the confidence to make decisions and take action on
what to dispose of or archive, or they do not yet have in place
the systems and procedures to enable them to do this.

3 Where digital continuity
fits in

Complete This means that everything you need to use and
understand the information is there, including the content
and context, such as metadata – so, for example, you still
have links to external files or you have maintained important
connections between files and metadata.

Available This means you can find what you need and that
it can be opened with available technology – so, for example,
you have the metadata you need, or you have information in
versions that can be processed using available IT applications.

Usable This means that it is fit for purpose and can be used
in a way that meets the business needs of the organization –
so, for example, information is not locked into formats or
systems that restrict your ability to use or reuse it, or that
restrict the tools you can use to process it.

Digital continuity is the ability to use digital information for as
long as needed, to meet business requirements. Managing
digital continuity means making sure that anyone who needs
information can identify it, retrieve a copy, read, or otherwise
use the content as required. They will also be confident that the
information is complete, available and usable. To achieve this
you will need to make sure that your business needs, your
information assets and your technical services are aligned (see
Figure 1).

© The Stationery Office 2011

6 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

Digital continuity is about managing digital information
through change. Change of any kind puts digital information
at risk, because it alters the alignment between your business
requirements, your information and your technical environment.
When these things move out of alignment, you might lose
digital information, or the ability to use it as you need to.

3.1 Business or organizational change
If your organization is given new responsibilities, for example,
you might be required to do new things with your information.
If your IT or information management do not allow that to
happen, then you are at risk of losing digital continuity. That
could be for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your IT service
contract is not flexible enough, so making changes to meet your

new needs is too expensive. Or perhaps your metadata policy is
now inadequate, because it does not provide the rigorous audit
trail you now require.

3.2 Technical change
Changes to your IT environment can also impact on digital
continuity. You can lose essential bits of your information,
such as metadata, during transfer to a new IT system. Or you
could lose functionality if formats or applications are no longer
supported or are upgraded.

Technologies can also become obsolete. If you do not have a
plan in place to migrate at-risk information to new formats
or systems that provide the functionality you need, you could
easily lose digital continuity.

Technical Services and
Environment

You are maintaining
technical capability that

you don’t

need

You are maintaining
information assets that

you don’t need

You don’t have the
right technical

capability to use your
information assets to
meet your business

needs

You don’t have
the right (form
of) information
assets to meet
your business

need

You are
maintaining

technical
support for
information

assests that you
don’t need

Effective and
Efficient Information
Asset Management:

You have the right
information assets and

the right technical
capability to meet your

business need

You have business needs
that are not being met

Business Needs

Information Assets

Effective and
Efficient Information
Asset Management:

You have the right
information assets and
the right technical
capability to meet your
business need

Figure 1 Effective and efficient information asset management

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 7

Managing digital continuity means defining and managing
information from a content perspective and a technology
perspective.

3.3 Identifying business needs and technical
dependencies

Effective management of digital information assets means
that you have the right capabilities and resources to meet your
ongoing business needs, as shown in Figure 1.

This requires that:

• You understand how your organization needs to use its
information to support its business requirements (i.e. what
information you need, for how long, who needs to use it and
in what way)

• You then make sure that your technical environment and the
way you manage your information assets support the
identified business requirements.

Your IT should provide support for your information assets in
the way you need to use them – not just today, but as business
needs and technology change, and digital information ages.

The National Archives’ Digital Continuity project is developing a
service for the public sector that will support digital continuity
management. You can find guidance at www.nationalarchives.
gov.uk/recordsmanagement/dc-guidance.htm

3.4 ITIL principles that support digital
continuity management

ITIL defines a ‘service’ as a means of delivering value to
customers by facilitating the outcomes that customers want to
achieve without the ownership of specific costs and risks.

If we consider a business service such as ‘payments’, the
business outcomes are making the right payments on time,
with the expected resources, and without any unexpected
costs or risk. The ‘payments’ business services are supported
by a number of technology services such as ‘information access
administration’, ‘database service’ and ‘storage administration’.
Managing the entire business service along with its underlying
components ensures that we are delivering the required
functionality (or utility – i.e. accurate payments) and service
levels (or warranty) to the business customer.

Managing digital continuity is about making sure that your
technical environment supports your organization to use its
digital information assets as it needs to, now and in the future.
This fits with the ITIL principles of delivering service utility and
warranty:

• Utility Delivering a service that has a positive effect on the
performance of tasks associated with desired business
outcomes. This is fitness for purpose.

• Warranty The positive effect is available when needed, in
sufficient capacity or magnitude, and dependable in terms of
continuity and security. This is fitness for use.

The following examples illustrate how ITIL is used by many IT
service providers to ensure that the warranty is delivered:

• Demand management and capacity management to
ensure that sufficient capacity is provided to deliver the
current and future demand for services; for example,
payment workload and digital storage needs

• Service level management to ensure that agreed service
level targets can be met; for example, performance levels for
a specified workload

• IT service continuity management to support business
continuity

• Availability management to ensure that all IT components
are appropriate to deliver the agreed service level targets

• Information security management to ensure the
confidentiality, integrity and availability of an organization’s
assets, information, data and IT services

• Incident management to restore service as quickly as
possible to users.

Managing digital continuity will help you to ensure that the
utility and warranty you are providing support the ongoing use
of digital information to fulfil business requirements, at the right
cost.

3.5 Organizing for digital continuity
Digital continuity should fit within a wider spectrum of activity
within your organization, including the appointment of a senior
sponsor for digital continuity who champions governance. The
senior sponsor may delegate responsibility for this to someone
like a chief information officer, head of knowledge and
information management or chief technology officer – that is,
someone who has the authority to escalate issues to board level
if required. Your organization may also have information asset
owners – senior individuals who have been given additional
responsibility for managing information risk. Every organization
is different, and job titles may vary.

We recommend that you work closely with other disciplines
to manage digital continuity effectively. Find out who is
responsible for knowledge and information in your organization
– they should understand their information assets and map
them against business requirements. You could also talk to your
enterprise architects or strategists, your information assurance
specialists, the people responsible for change management, and
procurement or contract managers.

Annex C provides more detail on these roles and their
responsibilities, and how what they do can support you.

3.6 Financial management and service
portfolio management

Financial management provides the business and IT with the
quantification, in financial terms, of the value of IT services,
the value of the assets used to provide those services, and
operational forecasts.

© The Stationery Office 2011

8 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

In ITIL, service portfolio management helps organizations to
consider all the relevant factors when deciding which IT services
to offer to which customers and which to withdraw from their
service portfolio. Robust service portfolio management must
factor in digital continuity. The process of managing digital
continuity will enable you to understand where your technology
is supporting unneeded information, where essential
information assets are not adequately supported by technology
(or are likely to become unsupported; for example, as a result
of technological obsolescence or changes to systems and
contracts), and where technology could improve information
asset usability.

The service portfolio can be a valuable tool in decision
making, supporting you to manage changes to information
assets, model the resource requirements required to manage
information assets and deliver digital continuity. Within the
service portfolio, the view of the operational services is the
service catalogue.

The service catalogue management process ensures that
information in the catalogue is accurate and reflects the current
details, status, interfaces and dependencies of all services that
are being run or being prepared to run in the live environment.
It helps to set the customers’ expectations of the value and
potential of their IT service providers.

4 Using your IAR to
understand the relationships
between your information
assets, business
requirements, and technical

environment

The five stages shown in Figure 2 provide a framework of the
actions your organization can take to help you assess and
improve the management of your digital information assets (for
more detail see Annex C). One of the principal ways you can
manage your digital information assets is by adapting your IAR.

The IAR is a conceptual rather than a physical entity. In practice,
your IAR is likely to consist of a number of separate registers,
documenting particular aspects of your digital information and
its environments. It might build on existing lists of information
assets or use the ITIL service asset and configuration
management process to link the various elements. This does
not matter, as long as you can understand what information
assets you have, how the business needs to use them, the
technical dependencies between them, and you can identify
the information assets dependent on each component of your
technical environment. Whatever way you develop your IAR,
you need to be able to use it to assess and manage the impact
of change.

Within an IT services environment, the IAR identifies the
information assets as distinct configuration items which relate
to the technology that enables them and the business outcomes
that they are required to support. Once the IT services IAR
is under active management (including with outsourced
IT suppliers), any impacts on the information assets can be

Figure 2 Key steps to improve the management of your information assets

1. Understand
the issues and

take action

2. Identify your
scope,

information
assets, how they

are used and their
technical

environment

3. Assess current
capability, risks,

opportunities and
implement

improvement

4. Manage
information assets

overtime and
through business
and technological

change

5. Establish and maintain the Information Asset Register (IAR)

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 9

more easily assessed at times of change. This ensures that the
business outcomes continue to be delivered, both at the time of
the change and for the duration of the IT services contract.

4.1 Defining the scope of your IAR and
identifying starting points

• Which information assets are you going to focus on initially?
Are there priority areas of the business, IT services or key
information assets that should be tackled first? For example,
new or business-critical services, their applications and
information assets and technology platform.

• What level of detail do you require? You may want to start
with a high-level overview, and take a phased approach to
developing the underlying detail.

• Are there plans to change or implement information systems
that would provide opportunities for developing sections of
your IAR?

• Are you due to renew or replace your service contract?
• Do you already have components of the IAR in place that

could be built upon?

4.2 Designing your IAR
• Decide how you will identify your information assets. How

will you define and classify them? How will you ensure that
each one you identify is unique? Who is the business owner
of each one? How will you quantify the value they provide to
the business? What do they cost to create and maintain?
Work with your knowledge and information management
team to understand what is currently being done and
whether it meets business needs. Roles are defined in Annex
B. If you do not have these specific roles in your organization,
find someone who has similar responsibilities or skills.

• Document the information asset content and context, where
the information is located, its current format and structure,
and relate this to the technical environment that supports it.

• Ensure that your IAR allows you to link what you know about
the business value and utility requirements of your
information asset with what you know about its technical
characteristics. This will inform decisions about how to
manage the continuity of your digital information assets
through change.

• Ensure that you can also understand what information assets
are dependent on each component of your technical
environment, so that you can see which information assets
may be affected by changes to your technology.

• Establish processes for updating this mapping, with regular
review periods to audit for completeness and effectiveness.

• Ensure that ownership and responsibility for maintaining the
IAR itself is clear. Ownership will probably rest with your
senior sponsor. Responsibility for maintenance will probably
be shared between the information assurance function and
the information asset owners in the business, as appropriate.

Case Study 1

An IT service provider did not understand how digital
information flowed through the business and suspected there
was a lot of duplication of information within applications. It
also wanted to use this knowledge to manage its IT assets
more cost-effectively, and to ensure that it was supporting
information that had real business value, rather than storing
huge volumes of data.

The service provider achieved this by establishing a new
configuration management system (CMS). As part of the
initial project assessment, data on digital information assets,
business services, IT services, applications and the rest of the
technical environment was gathered. It found that there were
over 200 applications in use, and for one application each
division had its own name for the same application. Once the
CMS was established it was easier to understand the impact
of changing technology on the information assets. So when
the time came to upgrade key applications, the need to
migrate information contents and keep them usable was
flagged and actioned.

The asset and configuration manager used the following ITIL
categories to help identify and categorize configuration items
(CIs) more effectively:

• Service lifecycle CIs that provide a picture of the service
provider’s services, how these services will be delivered,
what benefits are expected, at what cost, and when they
will be realized

• Service CIs such as:

– Service capability assets: management, organization,
processes, knowledge, people

– Service resource assets: financial capital, systems,
applications, information, data, infrastructure and
facilities, financial capital, people

– Service and process models

– Service package and service design package

– Release package

– Service acceptance criteria

• Organization CIs – Some documentation will define the
characteristics of a CI, whereas other documentation will
be a CI in its own right and will need to be controlled; for
example, the organization’s business strategy or policies

• Internal CIs comprising those delivered by individual
projects

• External CIs such as external services, external customer
or third-party requirements and agreements, releases
from suppliers or subcontractors

• Interface CIs that are required to deliver the end-to-end
service across a service provider interface.

The system was used on an operational basis to manage
information assets through technical, organizational and
business change.

© The Stationery Office 2011

10 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

4.3 Adopting the ITIL asset and configuration
management practices with the IAR

Many organizations have implemented the ITIL asset and
configuration management process as a way of maintaining
information about the configuration items required to deliver
an IT service, including their relationships with each other. This
configuration information is managed throughout the lifecycle
of the configuration item (for example, information asset).
Changes to every configuration item are approved through the
ITIL change management process. Implementing the change
includes updating the relevant configuration records, such as
the IAR.

Service providers that manage large and complex IT services
and infrastructures use a supporting system known as the
configuration management system (CMS). The CMS holds all
the information about CIs within the designated scope. For
example, a service CI (such as a web service) will include the
details such as supplier, cost, purchase date, renewal date for
licences and maintenance contracts, and it will be linked to
controlled documentation such as agreements and contracts.
The CMS maintains the relationships between all service
components and records for all related changes. At the data
level, the CMS will provide access to data in asset registers,
wherever possible, rather than duplicating data.

You need to expand ITIL asset and configuration management
approaches to include information assets as configuration items.
If you use a CMS make sure you include information assets,
such as web content, too.

5 Using the IAR to improve
the way you manage digital
information

Once you have established an IAR covering some or all of your
information assets, you can begin to use it to improve your
management of digital information, as follows.

5.1 Planning for effective and efficient
information asset management

• Use the mappings of dependencies in your IAR to
understand the potential impact of organizational or system
change.

• Ensure that your enterprise architecture planning and
implementation reflect the business requirements for your
information assets and the need to ensure you can still use
digital information after technical, organizational, or business
change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to build a
consideration of the long-term use you need from
information assets into IT system design and development,
to minimize the impact and cost of change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to plan the
migration of information assets to standardized technology
and open standards, wherever possible. This will ensure
information assets are future-proofed and less at risk from
change.

• Use your understanding of the impact of change to identify
where you can standardize the technology, software,
environment and formats you use to minimize reliance on
bespoke systems, proprietary software or complex formats.
This will make your technology environment easier to
manage and ensure that changes have minimal impact on
digital continuity.

5.2 Identifying risks to digital continuity
• Identify the information assets that you need to use, but are

currently insufficiently supported by the right technology and
so do not efficiently meet your business requirements – this
is an area of risk to your digital continuity.

• Assess the impact of business and technology change on the
usability of digital information.

• Identify potential points of failure and vulnerability when
designing the availability and continuity for new and
changed services.

Case Study 2

A consultant helped a bank, a city council and a rail operator
to establish a strategy for digital continuity that would
guarantee the availability of key IT services during business
and technology change projects. In the first phase, ITIL best
practices were used to:

• Establish a service portfolio management process. The
process ensured that the investment case for proposed
new and changed services covered all the lifecycle costs
of the service including: maintenance, up to three
platform and format changes during the lifetime of the
service, and a budget for disposal of service assets
including the information assets.

• Integrate the existing IT change management process
with the IAR and the CMS to provide a solid framework
for managing changes to all digital information assets.

• Manage all changes to the IAR and their storage locations
through the IT change management.

• Establish a process to check the progress of projects
against agreed financial targets, risk profile, business
utility requirements and the service level targets process
as services progressed through service design, service
transition and into live operation.

• Improve the supplier management process to ensure that
all new and changed contracts with third parties clearly
defined the accountability and responsibilities of both
parties when managing changes to IT services, the
technical environment and updating the information asset
register.

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 11

5.3 Identifying and planning the realization
of savings and efficiencies

• Identify information assets that are no longer required to
meet your business needs (or no longer required in their
current form), and technology capability and support that
are no longer required.

• Dispose of any information assets that you no longer

need.

• Dispose of any technology capability that you no longer

need.

• Identify opportunities to downgrade the technology you use
to access information or migrate information to different
formats, so that your technology mirrors your needs, saving
money on expensive systems, unnecessary functionality or
high availability.

• Move the information assets to cheaper, more efficient and
effective storage, de-duplicating assets.

5.4 Contracting with new IT service providers
• Through the active management of the IAR in the IT services

contract, the information assets become true configuration
items and the organization is able to effectively manage and
maintain digital continuity, reducing risks as the technology
and the organization itself change.

• The OGC model agreement for IT services now includes
reference to an IAR as one of the registers to be maintained
as part of the service configuration management. The IAR
needs to be created by the contracting authority. It is then
maintained by the contractor, who has to assess the impact
of any changes on the usability requirements defined for the
information assets.

• In the contract service description, the services must be
mapped to the information assets that relate to the delivery
of that service in order to deliver the utility (i.e. business
outcomes) required.

• The IAR should be initially created by the contracting
authority prior to procurement, used in the due diligence
process and updated or refined during the contract
negotiations.

• Once the IT services contract is in place, the IAR is referenced
from the contract, and is maintained by the contactor. The
model contract contains several clauses which detail rights or
responsibilities in relation to the IAR. In summary they are as
follows:

– The contractor is obligated to ensure that the IAR is
maintained.

– Any changes to the IAR should go through the
operational change procedure or the contract change
procedure.

– All changes which go through the operational change
procedure or the contract change procedure will
explicitly address the impact on the IAR.

– The authority has the right to audit the IAR for
completeness and accuracy.

5.5 Obligations on suppliers to use an IAR
when contracting for IT services

The OGC model agreement for ICT services includes an
obligation for the contractor to maintain an IAR for the duration
of the contract. There also needs to be agreement on the
approach to:

• Managing changes to the IT services, technology
environments and information assets between the contractor
and the authority3

• Sharing asset and configuration management information
where this facilitates more effective change planning and
impact assessment of changes.

Benefits of using an IAR when contracting for IT
services
The following benefits for both the contractor and the
contracting authority can be derived from using the IAR during
procurement and management of IT services:

• Clear definition of the information assets that a new
contractor will be expected to support in relation to
delivering the service, leading to clarity and understanding
between both parties on the service provision.

• Appropriate service design that fully meets business
requirements for information and that takes into account any
legacy technology issues.

• The flexibility required to keep digital information usable is
built in to service design, so making change less costly – for
example, by moving towards open standards-based design,
rather than bespoke systems.

• Early identification of potential digital continuity issues
during procurement, leading to agreement on issue
resolutions during the solution design phase rather than
relying on post-contract change control – this is more
economic and carries a lower technical risk.

• Improved ability to make joint decisions about IT changes.
• Greater change success rate; changes can be implemented

effectively and efficiently with minimal disruption to the live
services.

• Greater ability to identify and eliminate redundant data,
leading to cost and process savings.

• Greater ability to identify redundant licensing, leading to cost
and process savings.

• Greater ability to identify uneconomic subsystems, leading to
cost and process savings by identifying alternative file
formats and licensing options.

• Reduced risk of inadvertent digital continuity issues being
introduced by change through the life of the agreement.

• Once the IAR exists it can be used in subsequent
procurements and due diligence exercises.

3 By ’authority’ and ‘contracting authority’ we mean the organization contracting the services required.

© The Stationery Office 2011

12 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

6 Manage information assets
over time, and during
periods of change

As part of good information asset management you must assess
the impact of asset, business management or IT change on
digital continuity and the availability of IT services to ensure your
information assets continue to support your business needs and
to reduce the likelihood of continuity issues arising. Figure 3
shows how to use the ITIL service lifecycle to achieve this.

6.1 Using the ITIL service lifecycle to manage
digital continuity

Many organizations are adopting the ITIL service lifecycle (see
Figure 3) to enable them to manage business and technology
changes more effectively and efficiently. You can use the ITIL
service lifecycle to help you to manage digital information assets
through business and technology change.

The service lifecycle contains five elements as shown in Figure
3, each of which rely on service principles, processes, roles
and performance measures. Each part of the lifecycle exerts

Co
mp

lem
entary Publications

Web Support Serv
ice

s

ITIL

Continual Service

Improvement

Continual Service

Im
provem

ent

Co
nt

in
ua

l S
er

vi
ce

Im
pr

ov
em

en
t

Service
Design

Service
Strategy

Service
Transition

Service
Operation

Figure 3 The ITIL service lifecycle

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 13

influence on the other and relies on the other for inputs and
feedback. A constant set of checks and balances throughout
the service lifecycle ensures that as business demand changes
with business need, the services can adapt and respond
effectively to them. The service lifecycle stages and guidance
are as follows:

1. Service strategy establishes an overall strategy for IT
services and for IT service management. It begins with
understanding the organization’s objectives and customer
needs and how to create value for customers. Service
strategy matches the service offerings to customer needs.
It defines the requirements, capabilities and resources to
deliver the service offerings successfully. The costs and risks
associated with service delivery also need to be matched to
the value delivered to the customer.

2. Service design covers the design principles and methods
for converting strategic objectives into portfolios of services
and service assets. It ensures that new and changed services
are designed effectively to meet customer expectations.
It includes the changes necessary to assure continuity of
services, achievement of service levels, and conformance to
standards and regulations. It guides organizations on how
to develop capabilities for service management including
the service management system, measurement method,
technology and processes.

3. Service transition the service design is built, tested
and deployed into production with minimal unwanted
consequences. It covers the transition of an organization
from one state to another while controlling risk and
supporting organizational knowledge for decision support.
It provides guidance on managing changes, release
and deployment management, controlling assets and
configurations, service validation and testing.

4. Service operation includes guidance on achieving
effectiveness and efficiency in the delivery and support
of operational services to ensure value for the customer,
user and service provider. It provides knowledge for
operations managers and practitioners to make better
decisions in areas such as managing the availability of
services, controlling demand, optimizing capacity utilization,
scheduling of operations and avoiding or resolving service
incidents and managing problems.

5. Continual service improvement provides guidance
in measuring and improving the services to create and
maintain value for customers. It combines principles,
practices and methods from quality management, change
management and capability improvement.

7 Conclusion
IT service providers and those managing outsourced IT have an
active role to play in managing digital continuity – ensuring that
the technical environment adequately supports the information
assets that the organization relies on, and supports the way the
organization needs to use that information after change.

To achieve this we recommend that you:

• Understand the business needs for information and its
context of use

• Define information assets by content and business use rather
than by the system that holds the information

• Define the scope of an IAR, design it, and use it to improve
the way you manage your digital information (using existing
configuration management approaches where possible)

• Use your IAR to help you to understand and record the
relationship and dependencies between your information
assets, business requirements and technical environment

• Use your IAR when contracting with new IT service providers,
to ensure good information asset management.

In this way, information assets become true configuration
items and you will be able to effectively manage and maintain
digital continuity, reducing risks as the technology and the
organization itself changes.

The changes we suggest you make to your IAR will enable you
to collate the information you need to:

• Identify information assets that you need to use, but that are
currently unsupported by the right technology and so do not
meet your business requirements

• Understand the potential impact of organizational or system
change

• Ensure that your enterprise architecture planning and
implementation reflects how your business needs to use its
information assets

• Build the long-term business requirements for information
use into IT system design and development, to minimize the
impact and cost of change

• Plan the migration of information assets to standardized
technology and open standards wherever possible

• Identify where you can standardize your technology
software, environment and formats used to minimize reliance
on bespoke systems, proprietary software or complex
formats. This will make your technology environment easier
to manage and ensure that changes have minimal impact on
digital continuity

• Identify and plan the realization of savings and efficiencies by
ensuring that your technology mirrors your business
requirements for information use. In particular you may be
able to:

© The Stationery Office 2011

14 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

– Identify technology that is supporting unneeded
information assets, allowing you to dispose of any
surplus technology capacity

– Identify opportunities to downgrade the technology
you use to access information or migrate it to different
formats

– Move information assets to cheaper, more efficient and
effective storage, avoiding duplication of assets.

You can find more information about managing digital
continuity at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/digitalcontinuity

Annex A Glossary of terms and
definitions

asset Any resource or capability. Assets of a
service provider include anything that
could contribute to the delivery of a
service. Assets can be one of the following
types: management, organization, process,
knowledge, people, information, applications,
infrastructure, and financial capital.

Source: ITIL Service Strategy

An information asset is information held
by an organization, categorized from the
perspective of its content and business use
rather than by the IT system that holds it.
Information assets could be single or logical
groupings of files, data sets or databases,
and include both the digital object and
associated metadata.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

digital continuity The ability to access and use your digital
information assets, in the way you need to,
for as long as you need to, over time and
through change.

Achieving digital continuity means ensuring
your information assets are complete,
available and usable through the alignment
of business requirements, information assets
and technical environment.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

digital The inability to read a digital object because
obsolescence the software, hardware or systems required

are no longer available or are no longer
supported. Digital obsolescence may result
from the supplier no longer trading, having
ceased support or only supporting newer
versions of its products. Digital obsolescence
may lead to incompatibility or lack of

interoperability. The term can also be applied
to specifically to hardware when it is known
as technical obsolescence.

Source: Wikipedia

digital The long-term archival management of digital
preservation information assets selected for their historical

value, once they have passed out of business
ownership.

Source: Digital Continuity Project

The long-term, error-free storage of digital
information, with means for retrieval and
interpretation, for the entire time span the
information is required for.

Source: Wikipedia

Annex B Key roles and
responsibilities

Identifying the right roles and responsibilities
in the organization
Ensuring effective management of information assets requires
the clear allocation of responsibilities within an organization to
provide:

• Strategic ownership and accountability, to secure
commitment and action from the right people, to realize
business benefits, to manage information risk and ensure
good governance throughout the information lifecycle, and
to drive a culture of effective information management

• Ongoing planning and action, and collaboration across the
business, and across information management, information
assurance and IT functions

• Clear business ownership of and accountability for
information assets, to ensure that each one is managed in a
way that is consistent with business need.

The exact shape of this framework will vary for each
organization, but key roles and functions are outlined below.

Key roles in managing information assets
Senior sponsor for digital continuity champions appropriate
governance and action at the right levels in the organization
and across appropriate business units. The senior sponsor will
be the senior business owner for digital continuity across the
organization, and may be your senior information risk owner or
another board member. The senior sponsor will appoint
someone (for example, a ‘senior responsible owner’) to take
forward action on digital continuity.

Senior responsible owner for digital continuity will have
delegated authority from the senior sponsor and should have
a clear route for escalating issues to board level as necessary.
Who takes this role will depend on your organization; it could
be your chief information officer, head of knowledge and

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 15

information management, chief technology officer or another
person with the remit for managing digital information,
information technology or information risk.

Information asset owners ‘are senior individuals involved in
running the relevant business. Their role is to understand what
information is held, what is added and what is removed, how
information is moved, who has access and why, and how it can
be properly shared and exploited. As a result they are able to
understand and address risks to the information, and ensure
that information is fully utilised’
UK Cabinet Office Guidance on Mandatory Roles

Functions and roles that collaborate to manage
information assets
• Knowledge, information and records managers work

with information asset owners to define how the business
needs to use its information assets, now and over time, and
ensure that information management supports this.

• Information assurance specialists ensure digital
continuity is addressed as part of the spectrum of
information risk.

• IT managers ensure the organization’s technical
environment enables the continuity of information assets in
line with the business requirement, over time and through
change.

• Enterprise architects/strategists ensure that enterprise
architecture and/or IT strategies properly account for the
ongoing business need to use information over time and
through change.

• Business change managers, project and programme
managers ensure that digital continuity is appropriately
taken into account in any business change initiative, through
design, implementation and test phases.

• Procurement, commercial and contract managers
ensure that appropriate responsibility for identifying and
managing continuity issues is clearly defined in supplier
contracts, and that suppliers deliver on their obligations.

Annex C Managing digital
continuity

The key stages shown in Figure 2, which is shown again here,
provide a framework of actions your organization can take to
help you assess and improve the management of your digital
information assets. One of the principal ways you can manage
your digital information assets is by adapting your IAR.

Step 1 Understand the issues and take action
• Ensure your corporate board and senior information risk

owner are aware of the need to manage digital information
assets, and understand that risk to digital continuity is a key
information risk.

• Assign a senior responsible owner for managing digital
information assets and their continuity.

• Ensure information technology, information assurance and
information management understand their responsibilities in
managing digital information assets.

• Establish a multi-disciplinary team to take action.
• Engage IT providers on the issues, and their responsibilities.
• Include managing digital continuity as a driver in relevant

strategies.

• Build a business case for further action.

1. Understand
the issues and
take action
2. Identify your
scope,
information
assets, how they
are used and their
technical
environment
3. Assess current
capability, risks,
opportunities and
implement
improvement
4. Manage
information assets
overtime and
through business
and technological
change

5. Establish and maintain the Information Asset Register (IAR)

Figure 2 Key steps to improve the management of your information assets

© The Stationery Office 2011

16 ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets

Step 2 Identify your scope, information assets,
how they are used and their technical
environment

• Identify your information assets in order to understand what
information you have, and identify the business owner of
each asset.

• Define how your business needs to use the information it
has. Understand how each information asset will be used
through its lifecycle and what value it will provide to the
business.

• Understand the technical environment supporting your
information assets.

• Ensure your information assets have accountable owners.
• Compile an IAR, mapping the relationships and

dependencies between your business needs, information
assets and the technology that supports you in using them in
the way that you need to.

Step 3 Assess your current capability and
implement improvements

• Identify how you will assess and manage risk to digital
continuity within your existing information risk management
procedures, and what additional provision might be
necessary.

• Assess the organization’s capability to manage digital
information assets (using comparisons to international
standards, ITIL and/or the CESG Information Assurance
Maturity Model).

• Assess the risks to digital continuity of your current approach
to managing information assets and the opportunities that
would be provided by managing them more effectively.

• Create and implement a prioritized action plan to improve
your information asset management.

• Improve your project management, IT service management
and change management processes to assess impact on and
risk to digital continuity as part of their standard procedure.

• Embed ongoing risk assessment and continual improvement.
• Identify savings and efficiencies. Dispose of the information

assets and supporting IT that you do not really need and/or
reduce your capability to the required level.

Step 4 Manage information assets over time,
and through business and technological
change

• Reflect digital continuity in business plans and enterprise
architectures to ensure that you are less likely to lose digital
continuity.

• Maintain a good understanding of the business use that your
information assets support, so that you have the confidence
to make the right decisions on what you can archive or
downgrade to reduce maintenance costs.

• Assess the impact of organizational or business change on
digital continuity to ensure your information assets continue
to support your business needs and to avoid getting left with
the cost of legacy data, costly equipment or unexpected
disposal costs.

• Assess the impact of asset, business management or IT
change on digital continuity and the availability of IT services
to ensure your information assets continue to support your
business needs and to reduce the likelihood of continuity
issues arising.

• Where appropriate, aim to standardize your technical
environment to make your technical environment easier to
manage. Ensure that the way you manage metadata, audit
data, accessibility and retrievability of information, and data
quality supports digital continuity.

• Monitor and resolve incidents and problems.

Using ITIL’s IT service continuity management
process to manage digital continuity
This process supports business continuity management (BCM)
and helps you to manage risks that could seriously affect IT
services and the related information assets. It ensures that you
can always provide minimum agreed service levels, by reducing
the risk to an acceptable level and planning for the recovery of
IT services. IT service continuity management (ITSCM) includes:

• The agreement of the scope of the ITSCM process and the
policies adopted

• Business impact analysis to quantify the impact that loss of IT
service would have on the business

• Risk analysis – the risk identification and risk assessment to
identify potential threats to continuity and the likelihood of
the threats becoming reality. This includes taking measures
to manage the identified threats where cost-justified

• Production of an overall ITSCM strategy that is integrated
into the BCM strategy. This is likely to include elements of
risk reduction as well as selection of appropriate and
comprehensive recovery options

• Production of ITSCM plans, which are integrated with the
overall BCM plans

• Testing of the plans
• The ongoing operation and maintenance of the plans.
You need to consider digital continuity in your business and IT
continuity management. Business impact analysis is the activity
that identifies vital business functions and their dependencies.
These dependencies may include suppliers, people, other
business processes and IT services that are useful for the
information asset register.

© The Stationery Office 2011

ITIL® Managing Digital Information Assets 17

Annex D Bibliography and
references

National Information Assurance Strategy. Available at
www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/cabinetoffice/csia/
assets/nia_strategy

DOD 5015.2 US Government Electronic Records Management
Standard. Available at www.defense.gov/webmasters/
policy/dodd50152p

See also Electronic Records Management Software Applications
Design Criteria Standard available at www.js.pentagon.mil/
whs/directives/corres/pdf/501502std and ‘Records
management’ available at www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
records_management

Governance Processes and the Management of Organisational
Changes to Provide Appropriate Risk Management and
Continuity Strategies. Available at www.nationalarchives.
gov.uk/digitalcontinuity

UK Cabinet Office Guidance on Mandatory Roles. Available at
www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/media/45149/guidance_on_
mandatory_roles

ITIL best practice information including ITIL introduction,
publications, qualifications and glossary. Available at
www.itil-officialsite.com

Acknowledgements

Authors
Shirley Lacy, ConnectSphere

Frieda Midgley, Digital Continuity Project
Judith Riley, Digital Continuity Project
Nigel Williamson, Digital Continuity Project

Acknowledgement to Digital Continuity Project

Sourced by TSO and published on
www.best-management-practice.com

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