About the Author
Tim has worked in the information technology arena for over 25 years, with 14+ years of ERP implementation experience. He has served as a lead solution architect for several companies' Business Process and Quality & Risk Management for Application Lifecycle Management initiatives. He has a very strong background in compliance and testing competency work and extensive experience in business process, information technology process reengineering and application rationalization.
What's so Hard About
Enterprise Application Rationalization?
You work hard to get the most from your IT solutions. Could they be getting the better of you?
As if simultaneously working on multiple revenue-generating projects wasn't hard enough, you also maintain an application portfolio that incorporates a horde of diverse software. Although you’re sure to benefit from a well-stocked arsenal, it’s not always easy to maintain one.
Application rationalization is the logical solution. By fundamentally reorganizing your software portfolio so that it better aligns with your strategy, you can transform a jumbled, clunky mess into a sleek, well-oiled business machine. The only problem is that it's easier said than done.
What Goes into Application Rationalization?
Think of application rationalization the same way you approach your yearly household spring cleaning. The idea is to disengage your organization from software tools that aren’t really serving beneficial ends and replace them with better options. At the same time, you’ll want to modernize the apps you choose to retain and consolidate those that fulfill overlapping roles to simplify your toolbox.
Unfortunately, this isn’t quite as simple as looking through a musty closet and tossing out any items that are collecting cobwebs. To make your application rationalization endeavors a success, you’ll need to
Inventory all of the software that your company currently maintains, uses or pays for,
Gauge your portfolio in terms of relevant business factors, such as technical viability, risk and cost burden,
Quantify how well your portfolio satisfies your corporate goals so that you can chart an effective course to improvement,
Understand which of your critical planned business initiatives will necessitate portfolio evolutions so that the limiting factors become apparent,
Ascertain which vendors, code bases, software methodologies and platforms can make your portfolio more serviceable and reliable,
Identify the ideal timeframe for retiring individual portfolio assets, and
Close gaps between your legacy apps and the capabilities required to keep up with evolving technologies, like social media and the cloud.
To call such undertakings formidable would be a severe understatement. It’s easy to understand why many CIOs and CEOs feel inclined to shy away from tackling them head on, but don’t be so quick to back down from the challenge. The potential rewards are worth the effort.
Motivating Factors: What Do You Stand to Gain by Rationalizing?
Application rationalization does more than just make your portfolio look less embarrassing to your business partners. When applied judiciously, it can imbue your software assets with genuine practical value.
Streamlining Vital Processes
If performing an essential everyday task requires the use of multiple applications, then trimming the fat could make your operations faster. Rationalization is an excellent way to condense bloated workflows and free your team members to focus on something besides staying afloat in a sea of avoidable inefficiencies.
Reducing Licensing Fees
The more tools you use, the more you burden your organization with licensing costs. Since your vendors aren’t likely to cut you a price break just because you ask nicely, rationalization might be the only means of liberating your company from the shackles of uneconomical SLAs.
Heightened Software-Business Alignment
As your organization grows, your needs change, but unfortunately, old software can only evolve so much. When your vendor’s upgrades and patches fail to cut it, rationalizing your portfolio can help you eliminate the divergence between what apps are designed for and what you want to use them to accomplish.
Of course, no discussion of application portfolio management would be complete without addressing expenditures. In addition to the previously mentioned enterprise benefits, rationalization has many positive cost ramifications.
Application Rationalization decreases complexity and lowers IT spending. Numerous studies show that eliminating inefficiencies in the IT landscape can uncover hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.
Other expense-saving benefits of rationalization include
Identifying untapped cost-saving opportunities in the initial evaluation phase,
Establishing software quality standards that make it easier to screen future purchases,
Reducing support and training needs,
Improving governance efforts by making standards less complex and easier to comply with, and
Eliminating wasteful redundancies.
The Challenges That Enterprises Face
Rationalization is an integral part of budget-conscious software portfolio management and business growth. If you haven’t invested time into building a robust oversight strategy, however, then getting started can seem tough.
Convincing Your Coworkers
Picking a particular application for removal from your portfolio may benefit your enterprise, but not everyone will see it the same way. From your IT team members and help desk staff to your corporate service users, people naturally tend to feel threatened when you phase out the software that they’re accustomed to.
Without the proper framing, your rationalization efforts might devolve into political battles between stakeholders who each think that their applications deserve to remain in the company repertoire. To bring them over to your side, you need to present portfolio management in a fashion that makes its benefits more apparent.
Your users and staff shouldn’t view app retirement as them becoming obsolete. Instead, sell it as an unparalleled opportunity to augment their skills.
Instituting New Operational Methodologies
The other major obstacle to rationalization is that it’s not a one-time endeavor. Your company will keep evolving, so your portfolio must follow suit. Fortunately, implementing a periodic, streamlined rationalization process based on a proven framework can keep up with the demand and produce a profound shift in the way your corporate culture responds to new challenges.
Overcoming internal resistance to change can be difficult. Why force your way through doubt and uncertainty when it’s so much easier to get people on board if you simplify the process? Discover how efficient enterprise application rationalization can grant you the power to derive enhanced benefits from IT assets.