Companies Want Less Complex Application Portfolios

Ann All
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Why Enteprise App Portfolios Get Bloated

Check out new research from HP and Forrester.

Remember the Lay's advertising campaign that revolved around the slogan "Betcha can't eat just one?" It must have sold lots of potato chips, because Lay's used the slogan for more than 30 years, an improbably long time in the fickle advertising industry. Many companies today go through enterprise applications like chips, ingesting app after app and not stopping until they feel bloated to the point of bursting.


That's what Honorio Padron, the Hackett Group's Global IT Advisory Practice leader, told me when I interviewed him last week Due to a lack of governance, he said, many companies focus narrowly on budget and specifications during IT projects and neglect to shutter old applications, resulting in application portfolios loaded with duplicative, outdated or just plain unneeded software. If IT staff spend time maintaining those apps, they aren't able to respond quickly to business requests or to pursue more strategic tasks.


And companies with lots of applications also tend to have more technical platforms, more data models, more fixes and upgrades, greater fragmentation of expertise and more duplication of work -- all of which tend to slow project completion and increase IT costs.


Padron and the Hackett Group certainly aren't the only ones that think so. An HP news release that hit the wire this morning, announcing a couple of additions to its application lifecycle management software lineup, includes some data points from a Forrester Consulting study commissioned by HP. According to the study, 80 percent of IT decision-makers said obsolete and overly complex technology platforms had significant or critical impact on application development productivity. This was followed by cumbersome software development life cycle processes (76 percent) and difficult-to-modify legacy applications (73 percent). You can download the entire study at HP's site.


Fifty-one percent of the folks surveyed by Forrester had projects under way to modernize their software development life cycle tools and processes, including software testing processes. While I think it makes sense to look at improving all aspects of the software development process, most companies would benefit greatly simply by adopting a more holistic view of their overall application portfolio when evaluating and planning for new applications.


When adding a new app, be sure to consider retiring any existing apps it might replace, and come up with a plan for doing so.That was one of Padron's recommendations, along with performing regular inventories of applications, which will not only help target applications that can be eliminated, but can yield other savings opportunities such as reducing the number of software licenses. Sure, these suggestions sound like common sense. But just like eating fewer potato chips, it isn't always easy to stick to it.


Respondents to the HP-sponsored Forrester survey ranked increased agility (named by 54 percent) as a top driver for modernization plans, followed by cost reduction (53 percent) and innovation (50 percent). Though the research focused more on modernizing apps than eliminating them outright, I think the goals would be pretty similar for companies retiring superfluous apps.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
May 13, 2010 11:27 AM Bob Stewart Bob Stewart  says:

Though a little like flying a Cessna with a 747's checklist, the free wiki based open technology systems and software development life cycle over at is worth checking out and even better still it's creative commons so it's free to copy, paste, edit and use ...or for just under a hundred bucks you can get all the original files and tweak them to suit your needs.


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