Why start with an inventory?
- Redundant applications are difficult to identify without a complete inventory
- Difficult to make informed portfolio decisions without an inventory
- Identify stability, backlog requests, # of trouble tickets, # of annual help desk calls, most significant support issue, etc. of each
- Record labor against individual applications
- What applications are in use supporting the business?
- How well do applications map to current business operating functions?
- Which applications score best and worst for function and technical quality?
- What applications are based on ‘at risk’ technology?
- What applications cost the most to maintain? Where are the best opportunities to control cost?
- What applications should be retired, consolidated or extended?
Value of an inventory
- Even low-tech inventories can expose opportunities to reduce cost
- ID application owners – find out what people are spending their time doing
- Determine how much you’re spending on maintenance. How many developers are working on each application?
- ID application not supporting the business. Identify ‘champion’ applications – those with existing significant footprints
Inventory Do’s and Don’ts
- “Collect inventory and metrics information using automation if you can; collect it manually only if you must”, is a common best practice. ACTION ITEM: With a show of hands, how many of you have ever seen or heard of a tool, piece of software, or ‘sniffer’ than could identify:
- IT owner / business owner’s name, phone number, office number, or email address? You know, the folks that should be in the best position to know the pros / cons of the application…
- Detailed functional description
- All level 3 / 4 business processes supported
- Year first implemented / year of last major upgraded
- Number / type / direction of ALL interfaces
- Business users #1 complaint
- Business risks
- You get the idea…
- Don’t collect information for which you cannot articulate a specific need to support future strategic decisions. ANALOGY: If you were in HR, what information would you need to determine whether to RIF someone, keep them, or re-assign them? Collecting information that “might be interesting one day” will drag down discovery and turn it into an academic exercise – don’t do it!
- Approach transformation as an ongoing process, NOT a onetime event. Instituting an Application Portfolio Management (APM) capability will allow continuous strategic management of this asset – one of your firm’s largest and most expensive assets!
- An inventory is developed with significant input from your staff. Author’s Note: In 2007-8, I led an application assessment in which we interviewed / engaged over 400 people in the client’s organization
- Many existing application lists are incorporated / combined to begin a base line inventory of ‘candidate applications’
Managing an every-changing master inventory requires meticulous hands-on governance
- Combining two lists into one master list can be done relatively easily. Combining several dozen lists into one master is a significant challenge for any size team
- Removing duplicates becomes more challenging
- Redundancy in TLA (three letter acronyms) becomes an issue
- Tracking each and every tidbit of information from each source list, needs to be rolled into the master inventory
- Identifying only the new additions becomes more of a challenging as the master list absorbs more sand more source lists
- Performing this compilation manually can become a major risk for any inventory activity. Fortunately, there is a solution.
Until next time, see you in the future…
Executive Transformation Strategist