Hurdling Over Application Rationalization Obstacles – DISCOVERY

 In Portfolio Rationalization

Our last blog covered some of the benefits of an Application Portfolio Optimization Strategy.  As we discussed in our last post, the first step in gaining the necessary visibility to truly take control over the application portfolio is to take a comprehensive inventory of all the business applications so that IT managers, application owners, and architects can get a consolidated view of the application landscape.

To some organizations, this itself can seem like too large a task to tackle.  Even though the benefits of Portfolio Rationalization are obvious, the organization typically doesn’t have the bandwidth to undertake the project.  So, traditionally this would involve bringing in consultants for extended engagements to learn your IT landscape, capabilities and processes, then these consultants would go out across your organization and attempt to gather all the required information through site visits, workshops, web meetings, surveys, etc.  All the gathered information would be loaded into spreadsheets first in attempt to identify gaps, then to perform some subjective analysis on the data using pivot tables, formulas, macros, etc.

The challenges with this approach are many…

  • Did we truly get a complete inventory of applications?
  • Do we understand all the versioning and lifecycles of these applications?
  • Do we understand the supporting hardware, databases and other technologies supporting the applications?
  • Did we gather enough information to understand all the processes these applications support?
  • Do we understand how the core capabilities of our organization could be impacted by the removal of an application?
  • What in the landscape might change by the end of this discovery process that might affect the rationalization effort and how do we ensure we keep this information evergreen during the initial project and beyond….

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Due to the scale and complexity of discovery with traditional approaches, compromises are made, information is incomplete, analysis is based on assumptions not necessarily accurate, and decisions can have unexpected impacts to the business.

A proper discovery phase should be approached in a logical sequence and iterative if necessary.  Unfortunately, this can be costly and time consuming and your business typically demands a more agile approach.

Leveraging an integrated surveying capability in your enterprise and business architecture platform can deliver comprehensive and iterative discovery results at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional method. Perhaps most importantly of all, such an approach can help you avoid what is arguably the most common failing of the usual narrow approach most organizations take to AppRat. At the end of the day this exercise is only truly successful if your target landscape of Applications and Technologies fully support your target Business Architecture and ultimately your Strategy.

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  • Jim Crompton, Reflections Data Consulting

    Your proposed approach is very sound. But in smaller organizations you may have an idea of application usage (there are tools to do this) but what is no one has really done the business architecture picture? What do you compare with then? What is the importance of integration and interoperability? Would you recommend a look at vendor platforms that at least do some of the integration for you? But then there are those that say if you are only using commercial tools how can you differentiate yourself and create a competitive advantage? AppRat is an important but pretty complex challenge.

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