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How to Protect your Intangible Assets: Part VII

This is the final (Part VII) of the blog series "Stop Throwing Away your ICT4D Investments: Recognizing Intangible Assets"

Part I: Overview

Part II: Brand and Reputation

Part III: Audience Engagement and Community Strength

Part IV: Technology Investment

Part V: Content and Data

Part VI: Special Expertise and Thought Leadership

How to Protect your Intangible Assets

Now that we have outlined the major intangible assets in ICT projects, here are some tips on how to protect them, beyond the specifics in each section.

1. Perform a technology evaluation during the final year of the project

2. Create metrics to track these assets

3. Create protection plans, including budget and staff resources for the top priorities

Technology Evaulation

A technology evaluation should measure and capture the following:

  1. The evaluation criteria: i.e. what is the purpose of the technology and what are the measurements of success. This criteria should include long term aspects, such as post funding plans for the software (if any).
  2. Documentation of the technology: including platform, version, hosting set up/location, infrastructure (i.e. development vs. production environment, issue tracking, code repository if you are doing it in-house, or company supplying it if not).
  3. Areas of opportunity and concern: based on the evaluation criteria, are there areas of opportunity, such as a particularly successful element that should be protected, saved, and scaled? Are there challenges such as security, aging software, new requirements (such as open data), or a changing demographic that need to be planned for? These areas should be ranked for prioritization based on the evaluation criteria.
  4. Concrete recommendations for next steps: Based on the evaluation criteria, the evaluation should recommend concrete options for the team on what to do next.

Read this Sonjara article for more details on how to evaluate a code base.


Common Metrics to track assets include:

Protection Plans, including Budgets

Finally, what do protection plans look like?

The first step is identifying these assets and giving them some sort of value, be it in dollars or in labor. What would it cost if we had to do without that asset? What work would we have to put in if we didn't have this already in place? Ideally, you are saving money and increasing quality of your work by protecting these assets; the more you can tie that to real dollars, the easier it is to prioritize and "sell" to other stakeholders why you are spending time on these topics.

Secondly, not all assets have the same value to all projects. It is the rare project that has the budget and staffing to protect all equally. Therefore, the management team needs to identify what are the top assets that are critical to success, and which are nice to haves.

Thirdly, then make sure that everyone on the team is aware of these assets and why they are important. Great ideas can come from the team on ways to protect and improve these assets; everyone on the team is likely going to be needed to help protect them.

Fourthly, track, report and iterate. The metrics you have identified will be very useful here in tracking your key indicators.


I hope this blog series has been of use to you in thinking through all the intangible assets that go into an ICT4D or really, any project with a substantial technology component. If you want to learn more, please feel free to contact me - I offer free 15 minute consultations/brain picking/idea sharing with no pressure and lots of great ideas you can use.

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