Growing Pains: A Practical Approach to Managing Your Application Portfolio During Organizational Evolution
May 16, 2017
Growth can be good, but growth can also have its drawbacks, especially in the application management arena. Application portfolios can quickly become crowded, redundant, or even obsolete due to years of adding software with overlapping functionalities. This is only getting worse with the emergence of new technology. Add a merger or acquisition to the mix and you add even more applications into the mix. Unless your application portfolio is meticulously maintained, sprawl and application redundancies will occur, tying up IT resources and driving up operating costs.
Despite increased expectations on today’s IT organization to support business growth, while continuing to address more competing priorities than ever before, cost containment and organizational productivity remain imperative. The potential downstream impacts associated with system interruptions in today’s environment of connectivity and big data requirements can have enormous implications. Simple issues can, and do, affect the entire organization. Strong application management is key to achieving all of these things - cost management, productivity, and system reliability.
Organizations today must continuously invest in new technology to stay relevant and competitive, but along with that investment comes the question of, “Are you managing your existing portfolio in such a way to maximize benefit and limit operational budget?” One of the biggest issues organizations face today is runaway costs associated with all of the changes that have been made over the course of the last decade. IT executives are faced with cost take-out mandates, while also being driven to better utilize the existing application mix and new technology.
In order to make the most of your application management tactical operation, you need transparency and visibility as to the true cost of every application. Here are a few questions that will help you better measure the strength of your application management program:
1) How are our applications performing over time? Are you continuously measuring the cost and performance of each application, with associated metrics to help define the true value? What is contributing to your costs? For instance, are you seeing an increase in costs due to skill abandonment, dated technology, new user requirements, etc.?
2) Are some applications becoming obsolete or redundant? By analyzing, inventorying, and classifying all enterprise applications, you can identify which ones are creating redundancies or that are no longer effectively supporting the business, and are therefore creating unnecessary IT costs. Have you evaluated your application portfolio with full regard to the corporate strategy? Can you continue to support the business need and for how long? Is your business on a growth curve agility is needed or is your business position stable where only maintenance is required? Does your application portfolio support the direction of the company?
3)Does the cost to maintain an application align with its business value? Have you updated the perceived value to the business? If you performed an ROI on implementation, have you gone back to validate your assumptions? If you are not meeting the expected ROI, have you made the necessary adjustments to get back on track to creating and demonstrating business value?
Are you counting all of the costs associated with your applications? It is not just about maintenance contracts, analysts’ time, or support costs; there is a real cost associated with unproductive end-user time – not to mention the very definite, but soft cost, of internal and external end-user and customer dissatisfaction.
4) Is the application portfolio able to meet changing business conditions? Is your program adaptable? Are the maintenance costs growing as your portfolio is evolving? Are you getting the quality delivery you need from your full portfolio? Is your end-user satisfied with your delivery?
5) Does the program allow for innovation and improvement initiatives? Is innovation important in your organization? Are you seeing value-add in your delivery? Or, more specifically, does your application and management approach provide the opportunity to get in front of the business and create new opportunities?
Asking these questions can help you define and maintain a value-based application management program in your organization. However, this is no easy task, and we have seen many organizations struggle in this arena. In many cases, partnering with a reliable application management partner is the best option to help you reach your full application management strategy potential.
Considering a partner to assume control of some, or all, of your applications, can give pause to even the most confident IT executives. However, working with a partner that has the experience, resources, and tools necessary to assume management and support of an organization’s application portfolio can have many benefits, including:
Bringing order to complex IT environments
Reducing application redundancy
Mitigating obsolete applications
Freeing up existing staff to focus on new innovations and business strategy
Reducing overall application costs
Creating scalable capacity
Improving end-user satisfaction
Refining team resource/skill management
Improving process/technology efficiencies
Whether addressing these improvement initiatives in-house or looking for outside assistance, a little self-discovery will go a long way in gaining insight into where your organization can improve and what to address with respect to your organization’s application growing pains.