The days where we only use a handful of software for our basic office needs are over. Almost every aspect of business has a specifically developed niche app. Over the past decade, we have become more reliant on technology than ever and many organizations are dependent on numerous Software-as-a-Service products for day-to-day operations. The relevance of 'enterprise architecture' is on the rise and, consequently, so is the importance of software management.
Software management and Application Portfolio Management go hand in hand. APM helps businesses oversee and evaluate all the software applications used across an enterprise. In simple terms, APM can be thought of as keeping an extensively detailed application inventory. The best practice of APM involves multiple categories of data recorded for each application, including but not limited to the answers for the following:
Then, there is user input. By user, we mean users of the applications listed in the inventory. Although they lack administrative authorities (which are assigned to application owners), the role of the user is critical. Application owners must regularly gather feedback from users to formulate systematic, fact-based assessments of every software used across the enterprise. Does the application present technical difficulties? How effective is tech support in solving these problems? How does it compare to similar products on the market? How many of its features are actively used? Is there any feature that overlaps with other applications within the enterprise that might make it expendable? Owners use all this data and, with the help of an effective APM tool, can come to a conclusion about the lifecycle stage of the application.
The most important factors to consider when determining the fate of an application are business value and IT quality. Business value refers to the significance of the application in helping users achieve the business objectives of the organization. Owners must evaluate operational efficiency, utilization, user experience, whether the application has unique features that serve a critical function, and whether it generates revenue or cost savings. IT quality encompasses the technical integrity and health of the application in the context of the organization's IT infrastructure. In this regard, owners must determine the efficiency of technical support, data accuracy, source code availability and quality, reliability, security, and ease of change. Gartner's TIME model is a widespread basis for evaluating organizations' application portfolios based on the premises we discussed. It is a simple model and a great way to ensure that your portfolio is clean and effective. There are four types of action based on IT quality and business value: tolerating applications, investing in them, eliminating them, or migrating to better-suited alternatives. See how IT quality and business value relates to the four actions by examining Gartner's model below.
Tolerate applications that don't provide the best business value, but do have a working function, and provide high IT quality. This type of application shouldn't be too costly and should require little to no support. If it serves its function (and a better application doesn't include its features), let it remain in your portfolio without adding to your investment in it.
Applications that are both high in IT quality and help you reach your business objectives deserve further investment. This type of application experiencing no disruptions serves its purpose; provides source code availability and generates cost savings or income. The more applications in your portfolio are in the 'invest' category, the better!
Applications that serve a crucial purpose to your business but are problematic on the IT side need to be migrated. The problem might be that it requires too much effort or cost for maintenance and support, or that finding someone skilled in the application is difficult or expensive. In this case, find an alternative application that fulfills most of its capabilities and migrate towards it.
Lastly, eliminate what doesn't work! Low-quality applications with low business value have no place draining your resources. If an application has too many incidents or if it is vastly underused, that is, if it serves virtually no purpose - just let it go at the earliest opportunity.
A smart APM strategy allows you to visualize the effectiveness of your organization's IT and enterprise architecture and make systematic decisions based on facts. This approach for designing and re-designing your IT infrastructure will yield noticeable, sustainable results in the efficiency of your business. We have experienced first-hand that in this increasingly digitized world, having a strong understanding of what works and what doesn't will give your organization that competitive edge to strive for and stand out. Think of portfolio management in the world of finance; it involves long-term strategies based on evaluating strengths and weaknesses, extensive risk analysis, and constant upkeep of the portfolio to obtain financial objectives. Considering how many capital businesses invest in their IT infrastructure, doesn't it make sense that the same delicate approach should be adopted when it comes to their application portfolios?
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