Application Portfolios – The Paradox

I almost like it, even though it sort of irritates me. Maybe I like it because it irritates me. But that’s my problem“.

OK, so you have a massive application portfolio with technology that is significantly outdated. In addition, the application landscape has grown without currency maintenance. In other words, many of your servers are outdated to the extent you can’t upgrade your core applications, and many of your servers cannot be upgraded because the upgrades won’t support the most current versions of software. And let’s not forget the last acquired business unit – they are still running on all their own systems.

In a September 2012 survey, Gartner found that “78% of application portfolios will change over the next 2 years.” That was 31 months ago. Did yours? If yes. Is it going to change again by 2017? If no, how is your legacy portfolio going to support your business differentiation in 2016-17 and beyond?

Everything has a Price

“Everything has a price” seems to be true in our world of expanding markets, revenue, growth, M&A, and divestitures. No amount of money however, can buy optimization.

Most firms have already adjusted to their competitors’ differentiators, global market forces, and every-growing customer demands. The only way to leverage the power within an application portfolio is to discover, document, analyze, and then, develop future strategies from your findings. Those strategies must transform your current state through portfolio standardization; process refinement through governance; managing the portfolio via established metrics / measurements; and proactively optimized assets. In short, transform the portfolio so as to optimize the knowledge and enhance the business support derived from it.

First Things First

  1. Begin by following your instinct for the obvious need to transform – starting with where the concerns are
  2. Define where you are today (the good, bad, and ugly) – then you can demonstration how transformation applies to those concerns
  3. Explain the forethought of your future state – but don’t forget / neglect the current state, it defines the scope of your transformation

Suddenly Transported to a Future State?

No. A bold vision will no doubt stir up controversy. Knowing this, you can prepare for it.

  1. Don’t lose your fierce intensity, rather channel it
  2. Ensure your intentions and efforts are sincere
  3. You must be an apostle of your transformational beliefs
  4. Realize little has been accomplished to date, you are going to be different – you are on a missionary journey

You will never know all you can accomplish until you allow transformation to identify all that you have need of. Hearing is absorbing and accepting information. Learning is understanding its meaning and implications. Following is putting into action all you have learned and understood. All three parts are essential in a successful transformation.

An “IT transformation” is not just a tech initiative within IT, it is a business strategy adopted throughout a company.

  1. Recognize what is currently taking place
  2. Renounce this state as unworthy of expansion / extension
  3. Ask for support, funding, and insist on executive backing
  4. Restructure your priorities, therefore the motivation for each
  5. Examine progress daily to be sure the business units are spending the time and making the commitment to quantify transformation benefits

Transformation Cannot be Ignored

How would you feel if someone took a picture of you, framed it, stared at it a lot, showed it to others, but completely ignored the real you? Transformation cannot be treated that way either. First it is a movement, a large activity, a migration. At some point it becomes much more. It becomes the ‘new you’ – the transformed organization that is quicker to respond, more agile, more cost effective, AND won’t have to stop and perform another application assessment because you are pro-actively management the portfolio.

Hardest Challenges

  1. We’ve always done it this way. Sure it’s tough sometimes but we’ve managed so far…
  2. Resentment for change in leadership – transformation may require new leadership with new vision and priorities
  3. Lack of vision can spread like an virus
  4. The rigors and challenges of transformation
  5. Some may want to transform ‘only a little’, rather than the entire journey – most CIOs will want to knockoff projects incrementally, even if they have a vision for how they’ll work together. That approach will deliver benefits but for an IT group to change the company’s edge over competitors – “be the benchmark”  – means taking on all weak spots at once

Belief in Monotheism

For a company that has wandered 40 years in a parched desert of hair-ball architecture, a future state flowing with knowledge and agility probably sounds like paradise. Don’t wait around for a miracle. Sow your seeds of transformation on the best ground you can find the best way you can, and leave the convincing to your success of reducing cost, complexity, and increasing agility and a vision to your future.

See you in the future…

Frank Wood

Executive Transformation Strategist


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s