Consulting approach to application decommissioning

Decommissioning of enterprise applications has often been overlooked by organisations

Tags: HCL Technologies
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Consulting approach to application decommissioning Kurian: Organisations need to take a structured approach to application decommissioning and assign the necessary resources and staff to the project.
By  Madhu Kurian Published  May 12, 2014

Decommissioning of enterprise applications has often been overlooked by organisations, but a proper approach to management and disposal of applications that are out of date or redundant can have financial benefits and reduce operation risks, writes Madhu Kurian, of HCL Technologies.

The top priority for the CIO is faster execution of key initiatives such as the deployment of enterprise applications. While the priority is not misplaced, it is also important that IT departments give due importance to identifying optimisation opportunities on their existing IT landscape, including application decommissioning.

As part of a focused Application Portfolio Analysis,decommissioning is one of the key low-hanging opportunities which can provide maximum return.It is a no-brainer that applications which are technically and functionally misfit or obsolete need to be moved out of the landscape to avoid unnecessary costs and possible operational risks. The question that emerges then is why organisations are not making decommissioning a priority?

What stops IT from having a cleaner environment?

Decommissioning an application brings about cost savings, a cleaner environment, betterasset utilisation and reduced risk. The fact that decommissioning has not been a focus can be due to a number of reasons.

Business units in many ways own IT applications in a typical organisation, either as the actual owner (paying for the application) or as the key user for who the application was implemented in the first place. This makes it imperative that any decom plan includes validation by the business unit before execution.

Where the decom plans fail is when the business teams are reluctant to give up the applications even if the IT has valid reasons for retiring them. This may be because the business is concerned about disruption to business processes. Businesses really do not care much if there are redundant applications or unused applications in the organisation as long as there is no business impact caused by these applications.

There is also a fear of the unknown among business units whenever a proposal to unplug an application comes to business. Unless initiated by business themselves, it is highly unlikely that the IT decommission proposal is accepted in time. No one wants to give the go ahead on retiring an application which may be used at some point in the future. Business units may also fear losing some authority or status within the organisation if their application is taken away.

Clear process and framework for decommissioning required

A crucial point IT teams miss while undertaking a decom program is the establishment of an end-to-end process at the onset. What usually takes place is that decom execution is run as part of RTB activity where applications are simply taken out of the network without any proper planning or analysis of risks and benefits. Most organisations do not feel the need for a structured approach as long as the applications are decommissioned without major issues and effort.

The lack of a disciplined approach is mostly related to the unavailability of resources who can define the decommission processes; monitor the process and program manage the execution. Usually IT deploys similar processes for decommissioning as it does for implementation, but because decom execution is inherently different, organisations do not achieve the real benefits of this approach to decommissioning.

A structured approach to decommissioning makes it easier for business and IT to work together to identify priorities, get senior management buy in and measure the benefits. There is a good amount of ‘pre-work’ to be done before the decommissioning process reaches an actual execution stage, and it can mean the difference between a successful project and a failed one.

There are several common elements that go to make up a structured decom process in a typical organisation.*

Define Process — Firstly a clear process, aligned to the organisational realities needs to be defined which will guide the entire program. The best place to start on this, if IT does not already have a similar process or is not deploying an external consulting team, is to refer decom processes which are available in the public domain and design a process that will suit the organisation’s structure, culture and policies.

Set up the team — It is unrealistic to have a dedicated team for decom specialists in most organisations, but considering the importance of the program, it will not be a bad investment to have a 2-3 person core team who will be dedicated to decom program and who will be present from planning to post-decom phase.A good core team will have a representation from business, PMO and a senior IT team member.

Team members for a decom program will fall into two categories, either the core team responsible for program management, who will provide project management, reporting, measurement and metrics, and the execution team, who will deal with implementation and issue resolution.

Set up the project — setting up the project will require drafting a program plan, which can be refined based on further analysis. The plan should identify all business and IT units that need to be involved, with a schedule developed for each contribution, identification of roles and responsibilities, and development of communications plans and delilverables.

1141 days ago
Jerry Singarayar

Excellent Article , A real insight to challenges facing by large enterprises today when comes to lifecycle management

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