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The Road to Application Portfolio Management: A Case for APM : Page 2

By comparing the cost savings of applications to the cost of maintaining them, Application Portfolio Management (APM) can bring efficiency to enterprise operations and development.


3 Steps to Application Portfolio Management

APM can be a map through the complex intersections and dangerous hazards of an enterprise's IT portfolio. By comparing the cost savings of individual applications to the cost of maintaining them, APM strives to instill an ideal level of efficiency into enterprise operations and development.

Rather than just spinning your wheels, consider these three steps to boost APM and get the enterprise to where it needs to be.

Step 1: Know Your Destination

At the heart of APM are defined objectives to lead future decisions and measurements. The goal will depend largely on the organization's values and individual context. For instance, one organization may choose to aim for higher innovation, while another is just looking to reduce risk. As long as the initial goals and requirements are aligned with the business strategy, the enterprise will be heading in the right direction.

Step 2: Have a Good Navigator

It's useless to know where you want to go if you don't know how to get there; just as APM is nothing but a nice idea if it isn't supported by a strong team of knowledgeable IT executives.

IT should have a base knowledge of the current effectiveness of existing applications. By knowing the strengths and conditions of the organization's applications, they can make informed decisions regarding where to head in terms of improvement and focus. Many organizations lack the ability to measure effectiveness, but how can you improve something you cannot measure?

Modern analytic tools can make profile and analyze an organization's applications relative to business expectations, identifying sources of waste and risk. It will become clear if applications have duplicate functionality or are supporting eliminated code because of external changes -- such as mobility expectations -- that have altered the enterprise internally. This application analysis must span processes in project management, quality management, change and configuration management and requirements management. The business goals cemented in Step 1 will be the driving factor behind which areas are weighted with the most importance.

Step 3: Continue the Journey

APM is not a quick one-time fix. Enterprises are active and always growing, and so should your APM practices. The most successful organizations will be those that take a long-term management view and integrate continuous application assessments into their IT strategy.

APM Roadmap: Charting the Migration Path

One aspect of the long haul is facing a fork in the road -- do you take the path of application migration?

The danger is in always saying yes. Organizations often embark on migration initiatives because of pressure for action and hype around the newest solution. This is the point where APM can act as a roadmap, because strategic APM practices will be able to:

  1. highlight areas of weakness or redundancy, as previously discussed
  2. identify and quantify the impact of change

CIOs need to consider whether migration will bring them closer to their goals (whether that is cost savings, waste reduction or increased innovation). Additionally, sometimes an off-the-shelf vendor solution will suffice to meet the organization's needs, while other situations will have specific requirements for a customized solution. Without the proper information that APM provides, the decision to migrate applications can be faulty and dangerous.

The unavoidable truth is that you cannot always see the roadblocks you'll hit in the future. However, you'll hit far fewer if you know what the enterprise needs and what it will take to get where it strives to go. APM, when used as a foundation for IT decisions, will get the enterprise there in an efficient, cost saving and reliable manner.

Mannes Neuer is a Product Director at Micro Focus, responsible for its iSight, VisiBroker and Together product suites. Mannes has been involved in the product management of enterprise application analysis, development and business rule-related technologies since 2000. A resident of Issaquah, WA, Mannes completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
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