In previous blogs, APM: How Much Are Your Applications Really Costing You? and APM: Why Organizations Don’t Understand the TCO of Their Applications, I focused on how organizations can start to determine the technical and business value of their application portfolios. In this post, I would like to focus on aligning applications portfolios with the business needs and strategies of the organization.
Application governance processes used to establish and actualize the application strategy must collect fact base data from stakeholders to analyze the current state and use it to maintain, prioritize, and classify applications based on business needs. One way to ensure that the application portfolio is meeting the business needs of the organization is to have frequent communication with the business customers of the application (Swanton, 2012). The needs of the business customer are constantly changing and if they are using applications within the portfolio, the application manager needs to understand those changing needs or requirements. One idea is to survey the application business users twice a year. The survey could include the following questions:
- Are you having any technical issues with application X? How does the application X make you and the organization more productive?
- Has your organization changed their business strategy and business processes in the last six months? Is the organization’s business strategy documented? Does application X still align with that strategy and business process?
- Of all the applications you use in a day, week, month, how important is application X in getting your work accomplished. Would you prioritize application X enhancements ahead of other application enhancements? Why?
- Do you use two or more applications to perform the same function? If you do, are you migrating off the old application to the new application or are there truly two or more applications that do the same thing?
Effective communication with your business customer is one important aspect of application governance. Answers to these questions and understanding the health and fitness of all the applications within the portfolio, helps the application manager prioritize all the work (projects to enhance the applications) that is connected to the application portfolio. In addition, reducing duplicate legacy applications should allow costs to be reduced or allow organizations to invest in future innovation projects. Finally, the business leaders, customers, and users should be equal partners in this analysis and the communication from IT should be frequent and responsive.
In my next blog, I’d like to discuss the concept of Pace-Layered Application Strategy and ways to continuously update your application strategy as well as how understanding the future application requirements helps the application manager determine future resource skill requirements.
I’d like to hear from you. How are you currently aligning business needs and application strategy? What is your approach to understanding the health of your organization application portfolios? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below.
Swanton, B. (2012). 2012 strategic road map for application strategy. Gartner, doi: G00234745