Application rationalization is currently a significant concern for CIOs and other IT managers. Businesses are demanding faster changes to Applications than ever before to support the ever competitive marketplace. This is becoming even more true for large traditional organizations which are facing more and more pressure from digital-only businesses that have new applications and are or seems to be, significantly more agile.
However, application rationalization is not a simple error-free methodology and quite often these initiatives fail for a variety of reasons.
The first and most significant reason for failure is the organization does not know or understand what the application landscape truly is. Although the initial step in any rationalization methodology is to understand the portfolio many organizations find this very difficult to do. The difficult is simple to explain – legacy applications are poorly documented and so the business is not certain what each application does or how it does it.
Once an understanding has been achieved the path to a rationalized portfolio is still not straightforward.
The second challenge is that business leaders see that application rationalization projects are expensive and take significant time and, as non-IT people, they do not understand the benefits of spending such scarce resources. The job of senior IT staff is to explain the benefits and make the case for such projects to the business and at the same time make sure the technical staff are not afraid that it might have adverse consequences for their positions.
Once the business has decided to carry out the project and understands the benefit then there are some other cultural challenges to be overcome. As the intention of such a project is to improve the maturity of the organizations’ application portfolio then it is necessary to devote the time to improving the maturity of the people that will work with the new portfolio. This will include ensuring teams and people are collaborative in their approach to the new environment.
The other huge area that leads to failure of rationalization is knowing when to stop – or “perfect is the enemy of good”. There is no perfect answer and the organization needs to work out when the solution it has produced is good enough to meet the needs of the business without wasting resources.
Most of the challenges outlined here are cultural and have no technology-based solutions. However, the initial understanding of the current application portfolio can be automated and made a relatively painless task for the business.