Challenges of Any Application Transformation

Typical Challenge

Ever wish you could start over – with one application sitting on one server? Ah, the good ole’ days, huh? In today’s IT environments there is, unfortunately, no such thing as a “do over”. In reality, you will have to factor in the assets you have today (both good and bad), rejuvenate some of them, and ensure there is a unified way to integrate them all. Do you ever wonder which ones should be rejuvenated?

As Macbeth once said, “Lay on, Macduff!” Meaning? To make a vigorous attack… Shakespeare could have easily been discussing modernization…

This vigorous attack (AKA transformation) will require:

  • Inventory the existing assets – difficult enough and important enough that there should be a social media solely dedicated to this task
  • Determine which applications to keep, which to get rid of, and which to modernize
  • Next, plan, design, schedule, finance, and deploy the various modernizations – new platforms, new data centers, emerging technologies, updated business processes, retire-decomm-replace, etc.
  • Finally, seamlessly integrate ‘all this’ with systems that were kept ‘as-is’, while providing a sound application portfolio management (APM) methodology to prepare for yet the next new solutions using the next generation of technologies, that will be required to support the next generation of business needs – all that could make your current activities obsolete

It is interesting to note, although the benefits of individual modernizations are many, the synergy resulting from their combined APM-centric view of a portfolio in the context of enterprise transformation leads to agility, step-rate advances in cost savings, and accelerated value in support of your business’ needs.

What are the critical success factors?

  • Immediate standing-up of a transformation team / office that has end-to-end process responsibility of delivering the transformation program – staffed by, yes, both business and IT professionals
  • Full-time commitment and active involvement of business executives, not just IT. Why? Transformation is NOT, I repeat, NOT an IT project. If yours is, cancelled it immediately and reinvest the budget elsewhere, because it will fail!!!

“100% of my projects, in the last 11 years, in which both business and IT were not bought into the transformation concept, have resulted in failure. What is failure defined as? The resultant recommendations / roadmap were NOT funded or approved. 100%!”

  • A communication plan – continuous, timely, and including all (good and not so good) content, scope, progress, and setbacks
  • Treat transformation programs like you do your firm’s vision. You never actually achieved it fully, rather, it drives you / extents you, deeper into your future. Always pulling you forward to continuously transform. Can you begin to see the need for an APM-view of your portfolio?
  • OH, did I forget to mentioned, commitment & participation from both business and IT leaders AND staff
  • Availability of both the business resources and IT staffs – transformation is not a part-time job – something you do in your spare-time after your day job. Would you engage a dentist to perform your brain-surgery? Why not – both occur in your head
  • Commitment and understanding of transformation methodology and approach (e.g. see ‘communication plan’)
  • Leverage all existing artifacts / documentation / knowledge, and the existing gaps in all three. Yes, you do have gaps – numerous gaps. Gaps can be as telling as artifacts
  • Validate all in-flight projects and their potential impact to any transformation activity. You got it – ID which to keep, which to get rid of, and which to modify (e.g. modernize) to align with your transformation
  • Take a hard critical look at existing governance practices and policies, closing any gaps and / or strengthening structure, participation, etc.

Transformation is not for the faint of heart. But the payoff can be extraordinary.

Next we’ll take a long look at scope and a few common risks…

See you in the future…

Frank Wood

Executive Transformation Strategist


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