Steps for Successful Application Portfolio Management

Given the growing need for applications in a business, there is a need to successfully manage these applications in a systematic manner. Many firms have acquired numerous applications over the course of their functioning, some of which may be underused, redundant, or obsolete. Such applications may lack the ability to upgrade and evolve. Not managing these applications efficiently may result in a complex and costly affair. Besides, it may also slow down the speed of the business and consume time and resources.It is, therefore, prudent to establish a framework in order to manage the Information Technology (IT) software applications and software-based services of a business.

Defining Application Portfolio Management

Application Portfolio Management is a process of systematically managing the organization’s collection of software applications and software-based services. It uses a scoring algorithm to measure the individual performance of anapplication, namely the application’s lifespan, how often it is used, the cost associated to build and maintain it, its quality, and its interrelation with other applications. Once these metrics are obtained, the portfolio manager provides a report based on the cost and the business value of the performance of individual apps.

A successful APM helps in saving time and money, identifies any shortcomings andgaps in IT capabilities, and assists in the successful management of vendor relationships.It also helps in optimizing value as well as increasing speed-to-deployment and speed-to-market.

The following four points area stepbystep guide on how to implement APM solutions in an organization.

1. Collect information about all the applications used

The first step is gathering details about the applications and software services of a firm. Information collected should relate to the functionality of apps, thetechnology used by these apps, associated costs, end-users, vendors of the applications, as well astheuseof the applicationsin different departments.Such details may be obtained through automated discovery tools or by having discussions with application owners.

2. Establish a quantitative base

It is necessary to lay down a quantitative basethatacts as a yardstick for comparison.The output should be atpar with the set standards.Establishing a quantitative base is important as portfolio managers may use itas a guideline while successfully managing an application portfolio.Standardization may be in terms of the technology used, functional quality, and technical quality, besides others. At this stage, it is also important to consider other attributes like risk, business processes supported, and application lifetime cost.

3. Application value analysis

The next step is conducting ananalysis of the gathered information. It involves assigning a weight to each parameter based on its importance, thereby assessing the overall value as well as every application’s business value. Those with high costs in relation to their value are usuallyeliminated. In such cases, an application with a similar functionality isused to perform the same function. This method helps to dispense redundant or obsolete applications.

4. Generate a rationalization map

This step is important as it helps identify any opportunities for application consolidation, upgrade of technology, besides others. A roadmap should then be drafted and put in place. This should contain a stepbystep plan about the implementation of the rationalization process. Remember, based on the volume of existing and new applications, the APM process may take years to be completely successful. It is an evolutionaryprocess and not a one-time exercise.

APM helps to optimize applications and also provides the visibility into app lifecycle management, thus enabling managers to make better decisions. It assists in eradicating the applications thatslow downa firm’s efficiency. It allows organizations to reduce their IT expenses on such applications and instead invest the same amount in better-performing applications. Successful management reduces cost, removes any bottlenecks, and increases IT availability of resources, thus increasing the overall efficiency of the business.

It is also imperative that businesses align their portfolio management with the strategies of the firm. Doing so will help such firms reconcile requirements across the business and gain a competitive edge over their rivals.Successful management will not only reduce any sort of business constraintsbut also increase the asset value of the application portfolio.

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