What Is an APM Playbook and Why Do I Need One?

An APM Playbook (e.g. Framework) defines a method to score each application and their health as a portfolio by assessing strategic attributes such as an application’s age, supporting technology and skills, available vendor support, and the value an application provides to the business. Using these criteria, business decisions can be made to determine whether specific applications should be kept, updated, retired or replaced.

An APM Playbook Should:

  • Define a standardized approach to measuring the risk of technology obsolescence
  • Create measurement criteria for evaluating operational risk of applications
  • Create a process for justifying investment in technology modernization effort
  • Consider the complexity of functional and / or integration changes

This framework should consider business architecture, technical architecture and operational concerns when evaluating and prioritizing application modernization initiatives. This ensures future investments have a strategic alignment with corporate initiatives.

But First, Let’s Back up a Bit – Just What Exactly is APM?

APM is a management-level discipline – a fundamental, ongoing discipline, not just a one-off exercise to support transformation.

BUT Why, Why APM?

  • Determine what is the optimal number of applications to support the business
  • Identify which applications will be the “go-forward” applications
  • Decide if the focus should be on business innovation or on the efficient management of application assets. Or both

So, what do I REALLY get from APM?

  • Strategic metrics to support decision making
    • How consistent and standardized does the firm wish its business processes to be?
    • What is the optimal number of applications to support the business?
    • What are the operational costs of each application?
  • Enhanced decision making capability
    • Which applications to keep, which to get rid of
    • Which apps should be invested in, which apps are too far gone to invest in further?
    • Projecting the total spend for the next 3-5 years, then perpetuating these projections very much like a firm’s vision statement. What? In other words, you never want to achieve your vision, you always, constantly want it to stretch you into becoming even better.
  • A strategy that addresses numerous issues that a firm needs to properly align an IT strategy with that of the business

The Value of APM and the APM Playbook


An APM playbook should, at a minimum, include the following sections:

  • Executive Overview / Introduction
  • APM Plan
  • APM Lifecycle
  • APM Governance Model
  • Analytics Framework
  • APM Decision Framework & Decision Events
  • APM Capability Management
  • How to Mature the Playbook

With this level of detail, you can increase effective communication; increase the speed of the implementation of a transformation roadmap; and increase responsiveness and effectiveness. In addition, and more importantly, integrate the process between the transformation initiatives and existing governance / EA standards and policies, such as:

  • Single governance review for all transformation projects on the roadmap
  • Approval for all additional projects not on initial (e.g. master) roadmap. No project gets approved without integration into the master roadmap as it’s the “single source of truth” so to speak…

An APM Playbook should support

  • Identification of business areas affected by application consolidation
  • Assessment of the degree of variations across application versioning
  • Mapping of current applications, with their basic cost and quality data, to business processes
  • Obtaining management approval of portfolio standardization goals
  • Deciding the optimal number of applications to support the future state
  • Assessment of the existing apps (e.g. a 1-time application rationalization analysis)
  • Performing an operational cost analysis of individual applications
  • Development of a business case for the transformation roadmap
    • Business benefits, OpEx savings, CapEx of modernization, cost of de-commissioning and subsequent OpEx savings, etc.

At the core of any Playbook is an analytics framework as well as a decision framework and decision events. The analytics framework must include a risk framework, analysis linking risks to application dispositioning, and strategic attributes.

Leveraging the analytics framework, the decision framework must include the decision criteria, disposition prioritization and types, maturity, and linkage to the APM Lifecycle. Finally, the decision events include event scenarios and scenario examples.

It’s so easy to think, our people have navigated successfully through one transformation, so perhaps it won’t be as hard to sign them up for another one.

Oh, oh, I almost forgot — if you have an APM Playbook, do you need an APM Team to implement?

See you in the future…

Frank Wood

Executive Transformation Advisor



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