In the third part of “Memoirs of an Enterprise Architect” I discussed how to save millions by rationalizing all of the reporting efforts going on in your organization. In Part 4 I will go into detail about Application Portfolio Management and will answer a question that may sound quite ridiculous after reading it the first time, “What is an application?”.
What is an application anyway?
You may be surprised at what a can of worms this opens when asked in a team of smart professionals. Surprisingly, the answer is not all that important. Not important! Are you crazy? What is important, however, is that the definition is published on your Intranet, cube walls, and anywhere else you can find to ensure a common business language that everyone can understand. Notice that I am not saying that everyone needs to agree on it, they just need to understand what it is. I have wasted many hours getting into philosophical arguments at my last company with everyone trying to gain unanimous agreement on their definition which is futile.
Below are some simple rules to follow when coming up with your organization’s definition without wasting any time:
- Be clear and concise with one or two sentences defining an application.
- Show examples.
- Describe what is not an application.
- Draw a picture.
Application Portfolio Management
Now that I have the pre-requisite application definition out of the way, it is time to talk about Application Portfolio Management (APM) and why it is so critical to the success of any company. I will quote my brother from another mother, Stephen Tyler, when I say “APM is a journey not a destination.” Well he said life not APM, but you get the point.
Think of applications as the hub in the connected enterprise. APM is the structured discipline of managing that hub that connects to technologies, investments, information, business architectures, and goals & strategies. Don’t worry about these other portfolios for now. I just want you to understand where applications fit in the big picture. As you can probably guess what I am going to say next, Troux has this complete functionality out-of-the-box. It worked handily for my organization and I know it will for yours too.
6 Keys to Success
- Get an executive sponsor.
- Identify cross-functional stakeholder and stakeholder needs.
- Define success criteria.
- Create phased goals such as 30/60/90 timelines to show value early and often.
- Collect the minimum amount of application data necessary and don’t try to boil the ocean all at once.
- Institute centralized management and governance to ensure data quality and ownership.
Benefits of APM
Once you understand your organization’s application portfolio, you can start to put context around the business and realize benefits like:
- Uncover redundancy.
- Manage changes (i.e. upgrade, address vulnerabilities, retire).
- Migrate to new technologies and platforms.
All of these benefits are directly related to cost. Do you see now why APM is so critical to the success of any company? After all, businesses exist to make money and if you can save your company money then you are indirectly making more money for them. Once your organization sees what is possible and starts saving money based on a robust application portfolio, the floodgates will open and there will be a bevy of requests to collect more data and show the relationships between all of the portfolios that were mentioned briefly above.
It is Troux, no pun intended, that many tools on the market today can support pieces of this functionality, but I would argue that there is not another solution that supports all of the pieces necessary to answer key questions to transform your business. Isn’t it frustrating to open something like a treadmill, playscape, or a bike that requires assembly and after hours of work you discover there are a few pieces missing? Depending on what is missing, you either have partial value or in most cases no value at all. Troux is all about the connected enterprise so you have all of the information necessary to make business decisions, make them quickly, and move the needle forward.
If you are still reading this, I have de-pants myself again!
See you next week, same time, same place where I will discuss Integration: Configuration Management Database (CMDB).