Application Portfolio Management – Money for the Taking

Generally, there are many more applications than strictly necessary because there is insufficient insight into which applications support which business processes with which functions. Too many applications make the ICT landscape unnecessarily complex and result in high, unnecessary costs. Additionally, the quality of the business processes and collaboration between employees are negatively impacted when different applications with the same functionality are used.

When there is no insight into the coherence between applications, databases, and underlying infrastructure, it’s also difficult to determine the impact of changes, making it more complex and expensive to implement changes. Additionally, more disruptions are likely to happen. Gartner posits that 80% of the disruptions are caused by a change.

Finally, how does an organization propose to formulate policy and strategy related to the information provision without insight into the application landscape and the way in which it supports the business operations? Application portfolio management forms the key to saving and safeguarding a company’s success.

Is Enterprise Architecture Tooling the Solution?

Many organizations attempt to get these issues under control by designing “enterprise architecture.” The connection with the field of Enterprise Architecture is important, as it describes the goal architecture. Yet, the results are often disappointing. That’s due to the fact that this field uses its own jargon (ArchiMate), which is basically gibberish to the rest of the organization. The enterprise architects also utilize complex tools that are inaccessible to the rest of the organization. Additionally, these tools are highly tailored and kept up to date manually. There is a lack of synergy between architectural models and reality, which means little value is added.

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Goal architecture is derived from the company vision and strategy and describes which functionality the ICT landscape must offer and with which tools and resources. The same is also true when selecting applications. But how can you ensure that architectural models, goal architecture, and road maps are accessible to all those involved and, where applicable, match reality? How can you find an affordable EA solution that goes beyond the existing tools?

Some organizations use Excel as a solution for compiling information about the application landscape. However, Excel lacks the functionality to record and visualize all the relationships between objects. Moreover, due to version issues, it’s error-prone when compiling and maintaining large quantities of information. Excel is also lacking with regard to accessibility for all those involved.

We can come up with two concluding questions:

  1. Which solution offers the possibility of leaving the desired insight and APM up to enterprise architects that use a central repository. A repository that’s smart enough to keep itself up to date?;
  2. Which repository is accessible to employees on operational, tactical, and strategic level, so the right decisions can be made at the right moment?

What Is the Foundation for an Accessible and Current Solution?

The solution includes various conditions. These are defined in a coordinated manner. We have listed the conditions:

  1. The management emphasizes the importance of insight into how business operations are supported by ICT tools and resources;
  2. A repository must be constructed with functional, financial, and technical aspects of ICT components and how these support the business processes. The repository is accessible and comprehensible to everyone in the organization on an operational, tactical, and strategic level. This allows for making each decision with insight into the context and consequences;
  3. The repository is automatically linked to reality, so the models remain current and no redundant actions are necessary;
  4. The coherence between all ICT systems and coherence with the business processes can be easily visualized. And all characteristics of objects must be processed in a variety of ways in reports;
  5. In addition to insight into the existing ICT landscape, the system must be able to describe the goal architecture and to employ principles, guidelines, and roadmapping to support the organization on the road to that desired situation;
  6. All information in the repository must be requested and visualized from every desired angle. For impact analyses, application life cycle management, and to support policy and strategy.
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With BlueDolphin ValueBlue answers the questions above as well as meets the boundary conditions. BlueDolphin optimally supports Application Portfolio Management and Enterprise Architecture. The software platform offers facilities for connections with automated sources, thanks to which the link with reality is easily safeguarded. In addition to Application Rationalization and Enterprise Architecture, BlueDolphin offers the Business Process Module the option of modelling and optimizing current work processes due to which internal business procedures are better understood and shared.

BlueDolphin brings all information together in the central repository. This is accessible for an unlimited number of users within the organization. This means that everyone involved in IT and/or business processes has access to a single central reality.  This central reality can always be consulted, and information can be added to it. The wealth of information in BlueDolphin offers surprising strategic and cost-saving insights.

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Application Portfolio Management

Figure 1: visualization of how the business processes (yellow) are supported by ICT means (blue applications, information flows and application functions, and green infra).

What Information Does BlueDolphin Record?

BlueDolphin combines information from sources (CMDB, Excel lists, information from software distribution system, scan software), creating an application landscape. When an organization executes for the first time, it starts by tidying up, to separate relevant and irrelevant applications. From then on, you simply and automatically keep the application landscape up to date by scanning for changes compared to the previous time.

BlueDolphin collects functional, financial, and technical information of all applications. The application and functional administrators can bring this about with just a few mouse clicks. We advise gathering the following information:

  • Functions the application delivers and that therefore support the business processes;
  • Flows of information and dependencies with other applications, databases, and the outside world;
  • Financial information, such as costs for licenses, use, maintenance, and support;
  • General information about aspects such as the supplier, underlying technology, as well as the marketability of the platform and number of users

In a later phase, this can be supplemented with:

  • functional quality;
  • technical quality;
  • user satisfaction regarding the quality and performance of an application.