With a bit of Black and White vision and respect to the relation of organizations to Information Management, they can be divided in two categories: IM-relying and IM-denying.
IM-denying, are those organizations that deny the role of Information Management as a supportive element for their business. On the other hand, IM-relying, are the organizations that rely on IM and allocate considerable amount of budget for this sector in order to support their core business.
It is quite obvious that the number of applications that are being used in IM-relying organizations is proportional to the age of these enterprises and the number of years that have been past from the date they’ve started their Business. By considering this fact implementing Application Portfolio Management (APM) in these organizations seems to be crucial.
In this Article I am going discuss about the conditions and tools that should be prepared before implementation of Application Portfolio Management in order for it to have a successful role in IT-Business alignment and help Business more effectively in reaching its objectives and Strategic goals.
These conditions are but are not limited to:
a- IT Governance Unit
Undoubtedly having a strong IT Governance unit is a Must for an IM segment in IM-relying organizations. They can adopt an IT Governance framework - Like COBIT - as a foundation for their IT Governance unit in order to become more structured. Moreover they can build up their own methodology on this basis so that it can reach to a firm but on the other hand flexible nature in its body.
With a featured IT Governance unit in hand Application Portfolio Management has a wide space to work and produce value. It can easily follow the guidelines and procedures in hand to fulfill its activities and create an integrated system that can be used as a valuable source for the business-related decision makings and Application Selection methods.
b- Enterprise Architecture
Think of this case: A Medium size enterprise has various departments with different responsibilities within. Departments like HR and Payroll, Financials, Engineering and construction, etc… . Although this organization uses ERP or a similar solution still it is quite normal that it uses vast array of Applications for purposes not covered by ERP – From Desktop Applications like Office applications, Engineering, Analytical and statistical utilities to server based solutions.
With common knowledge of desktop applications in hand for everyone these days users can easily install or ask IT Service Desk to install demanded applications for them.
If APM has not been implemented from the start – which in most cases it’s like this – after implementation it faces lots of problems to get this function to work because:
Required business processes have not been established in Enterprise Architecture to instruct people to refer to APM for any Software/Application demand.
These business processes aligned with organization’s strategies can act as defined routes between IT Department and corresponding sectors.
c- APM Software Solution
Although selecting Software tools from the start before full implementation of APM is not critical but using a sophisticated software solution for APM can be so helpful and can ease the problems of customizing application profiles, application categorization and request for Application installation in many ways and can speed the whole process.IBM Rational Focal Point is a Solution that can help your enterprise for APM Implementation.
d- Top Management Support
Without having support of top management it is very hard to implement APM and roll it out in the Enterprise. As stated before every department proactively looks for using Applications for resolving their problems or doing their works.
In spite of all previous stated factors, there must be a call from C-class Managers – CEO or CIO – to emphasis on and clarify APM roles and responsibilities for all departments.
e- Culture of Segregation of duties
There are lots of activities that can be fulfilled to create the culture of segregation of duties for the organization. It can specifically lead to this way of thinking that all demands and requests regarding Applications should be forwarded to IT Department and it’s the IT Department that can determine if one application is useful or not. They should do required analytics and take the advantage of Application/Software selection methods for selecting the best application for the relevant department.
In case of on-demand software solutions they can enter the relative arguments with contractors and vendors to make sure that their deliverables comply with IT related standards, guidelines and best practices in terms of Security, Disaster/Recovery, Consistency and Application Architecture.
With respect to the relation of organizations to Information Management they can be fall into two categories:
1- IM-denying and
2- IM-relying organization.
Implementation of Application Portfolio Management is crucial for IM-relying organizations because every day number of Applications that are being used by different departments and users increases.
To have APM successfully implemented and work efficiently there must some conditions be prepared in an organization these conditions are but are not limited to:
a- Having a structured but flexible IT Governance Unit
b- Having APM supporting business process in Enterprise Architecture
c- Facilitating powerful APM software solutions
d- Having the support of Top Management
e- Creating the culture of Segregation of duties
With the above mentioned facts it is vivid that without being well-prepared implementation of Application Portfolio Management for an organization can be a failure or cannot have an acceptable performance.
On the other hand there are some who believe that having something even with bad or not acceptable performance is better than having nothing in hand. Therefore it is completely depends on your organization condition and environment to choose whether to be prepared before implementing APM or jump into the scene and kick-off your APM Project as soon as possible, in either ways it is good to have this in mind that the more you prepared the environment the better result you will get.
::: I’d be Glad to know your valuable ideas and feedbacks about the topic of this Article. So please feel free to place your comments.