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Application Portfolio Management – “Don’t Boil the Ocean”

By Samir Mukadam, VP of Product Management at Innotas

We briefly mentioned Application Portfolio Management (APM) in our most recent post. Since then we have received many emails from customers and prospects on how one should go about rolling out APM in their organization. –Here is how Innotas thinks an IT organization should approach APM:

Define the business challenge and need first.

Many customers seem to get overwhelmed trying to make sense of all the various apps and solutions available and creating a map of where these should fit into the overall IT ecosystem. Secondly, customers are getting bombarded with incoming emails, phone calls from new or current vendors on how their solutions would help them.  Take a step back. You are in control and not the vendor. First write down what questions you are trying to answer. What business needs do you want to solve by trying to get a handle on your application portfolio?

Align APM decisions with your maturity level.

There is no silver bullet that will address all your APM issues. Do you need an IT Governance solution, Enterprise Architecture solution, or Application Portfolio Management solution? It is difficult to draw clear lines between these areas. You need a set of capabilities that works across these related yet distinct areas.

The right mix seems to depend on the maturity of the APM solution currently in place. Depending on where the organization falls on the maturity curve, they need a different prescription.

If you are on the higher end of the maturity spectrum, congratulations you have almost achieved APM nirvana and your IT organization is running existing apps and rolling new apps like a well oiled machine. Awesome!

Take baby steps with your APM approach.

Companies that are at the lower end of the maturity spectrum can’t take a sledgehammer approach to APM. Overall problem needs to be broken down into bite size chunks and quick solutions need to be implemented to quickly move up the maturity curve. Ideally, the solution to be used lets you easily make that transition. First step in that process is to get a handle of your application inventory and a classification scheme that helps you organize your application portfolio by various stake holders or functional areas.

If the organization currently uses spreadsheets, quickly rationalize the data that is being captured per application. Do you need to capture additional details or remove some fields that do not make sense? Don’t over think it. A well-designed cloud based app will let you fairly easily make configuration changes to your setup.  Once you have mapped your spreadsheets to match up with the configuration, you can quickly push your application inventory to the cloud.

Once you have uploaded your application inventory, it becomes very easy now to provide access to stakeholders and help users visualize the application portfolio. You can track dependencies of an application across projects and infrastructure components such as servers and databases.

The First step is to master your application inventory, and then you’ll beready to start taking a critical look at these applications using metrics. We will address where you go from here in another blog post.

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