Unearthing gold: How IT portfolio management helps you strike it rich

16 July 2018 | 4470 Shares

From the smallest department realignment exercise to an enterprise-wide restructuring, the common dominator in any transformation project is IT. Just a few years ago, before we were all completely dependent on technology for everything, the IT department was an esoteric collection of specialist tools run by (often rather strange) IT specialists!

From being the men in white coats who maintained and provided computing power for highly specific tasks (which often took months to set up and run), the IT function in today’s enterprise has had to shift its stance. With every business strategy now requiring IT underpinnings, IT departments have become a group that supports business, modernization, and innovation, rather than a purveyor of discrete toolkits used by few.

Given this new reliance on IT for everything, the organization’s strategic objectives now require IT projects to be aligned. By engaging with business leaders, enterprise architects not only get a clear understanding of the enterprise’s needs going forward, but can suggest which tools can help the company meet its goals. Additionally, any further IT requirements down the line become apparent and can be prepared for in advance.

Creating a clear view of the IT architecture which supports strategic business initiatives is a great first step. Without the bedrock of the knowledge of existing structures and capabilities, organizations cannot adapt to changing markets. The analogy is one of attempting to undertake structural changes to a building without understanding the dimensions of the structure or which supporting beams shouldn’t be removed.

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Properly managed IT portfolios have significant advantages for enterprises that can be applied not just to future strategic decision-making, but to current projects and initiatives. By combining IT portfolio management with a project portfolio management approach, IT leaders can strengthen the links between strategic planning, project execution and IT requirements. Understanding how IT assets support business transformation is important and can be the catalyst that begins the process of integrating ideas, outlining project demands, and the roles various stakeholders will play in a collaborative framework.

Project portfolio management allows organizations to assess different projects based on required outcomes, resources and investments, and prepare the groundwork for a tangible transformation plan. With that groundwork in place, IT leaders can build a realistic roadmap supporting business transformation and modernization efforts.

Step One: Assessing the Big Picture

In large enterprises – many of which have grown over several decades (and continue to do so exponentially) – entire business functions can operate independently. These fragmented structures are reflected in IT deployments with applications, software and infrastructure that operates in silos. Attempts may have been made to conduct audits and break down these siloes, but these usually produce separate databases of applications and assets, each created by different tools, where the dots are never connected to communicate the big picture.

Because of this, it’s very difficult to determine how data flows between applications, and more importantly from a strategic point of view, how those applications might be used in the future as business requirements change.

Of course, we can’t appreciate the big picture without considering costs and risks. Sometimes software has been deployed at a high cost and continues to accrue high costs like licensing fees or maintenance. In certain cases, legacy application installations remain business critical, but supporting operating systems or hardware which cannot be updated presents serious security risks. As IT portfolio management becomes a strategic part of the business, various stakeholders need to be consulted and gathered to collaborate on business plans and goals.

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Step two: Decommissioning

By decommissioning unused applications, redundant and non-value-adding applications can be eliminated, freeing up budget for new, business-critical work. If slowed down by legacy technology, enterprises can’t keep up with rapid business transformation demands – and rapid transformation and an agile IT portfolio are a competitive advantage. The challenge for IT departments is always to support business innovation without increasing budgets. Reduction of costs through eliminating obsolete technologies is highly advantageous.

Decommissioning requires careful planning and a full understanding of the dependent processes. Enterprise-wide overviews of software deployments can often draw together different siloed applications under one umbrella. Large enterprise resource planning systems, for instance, can now replace multiple software programs, and at a lower cost.

Step three: Plan for the expected

By auditing your software and IT portfolio, application life cycles can be plotted out, and risks from obsolescence can be planned for and mitigated in advance. If managers know that a particular function is to cease, transform, morph, or be provided by a different (often larger) piece of software, then they can plan for that change and help business transformation progress smoothly.

Step four: Use portfolio management software (and methods)

Armed with real-time, actionable data within a platform that automates IT strategic planning, you can instantly compare multiple transformation scenarios and how they measure up against your strategic goals. Data and formalized reports can help your company modernize and reduce the technological and organizational risks of transformation.

Here at Tech HQ, we think you need to be informed. Therefore, here are three suppliers of IT portfolio management systems which can play a significant role in any enterprise transformation project. By deploying IT portfolio management solutions, you unlock the door to aligning IT policy with your organization’s strategic aims, fostering further business growth and success.

MEGA

MEGA International’s HOPEX software suite offers an integrated solution right across the enterprise architecture space, including IT portfolio management, business process analysis, and governance risk and compliance capabilities, built into a single platform.

Any of these solutions can be deployed in-house, but the HOPEX suite is also available as software-as-a-service in the cloud. The real-time and changing IT deployment landscape in most modern enterprises makes it a no-brainer to use a cloud-based solution. The onus is on real-time information and updates.

The HOPEX IT portfolio management solution from MEGA allows IT departments to develop deep transformational processes through comprehensive assessments of assets. The solution also reduces complexity and significantly cuts costs, as legacy, outdated and unused solutions are updated or retired.

Once an initial IT rationalization has taken place, users of MEGA’s suite of solutions will be able to take on strategic planning initiatives, and define new and innovative business projects which help companies grow.

Enabling IT departments to take a strategic stance means that CTOs can present, at board level, a range of tools and capabilities which can adapt, extend, scale, and support strategic changes as the enterprise expands.

To learn more about MEGA International, click here.

IBM

Big Blue’s project portfolio management solutions provide a range of benefits. Its offerings bridge the gap between business managers and practitioners who deliver the transformative projects. By ensuring consistent processes and helping management assess project status, project outcomes become clearer, and inter-project dependencies come into view.

Portfolio management from IBM helps managers monitor projects as they progress in real-time and provides data which satisfies Sarbanes-Oxley compliance.

Business-oriented management will find the PPM’s GUI familiar, as projects are viewed in the same way as components of an investment portfolio. Managers can take decisions based on project costs, but also on anticipated risks; all in relation to other projects or initiatives.

Like all the suppliers listed here, IBM is attempting to shift the focus of IT provision in the enterprise from one of a reactive service, to a more strategic role in which IT personnel are proactive parts of the planning process.

By producing a holistic view of the entire IT portfolio, management understands where IT spend is being allocated, and therefore which projects are proving their worth.

IBM’s long history — in computing terms, at least — and extensive hardware and software portfolio means that many current Big Blue clients will extend their use of the company to include IT portfolio management. Newcomers to IBM’s offerings can be assured of the support and attention which has gone a long way to creating the company’s longevity.

ACCENTURE

Accenture represents the new breed of service provision giants which straddle the globe, working with large enterprises and government divisions from local to national and transnational.

Amongst its extensive portfolio, Accenture has, to date, delivered over 3,500 technology architecture solutions, and employs close on 4,000 certified technology architects.

The company’s advice and implementations are supplier-agnostic; its clients are therefore guaranteed to get the best possible solutions, rather than those driven by hidden economic imperatives.

With extensive experience in DevOps, the company is well versed in leading-edge technologies, such as IoT, virtual and augmented realities, artificial intelligence and blockchain.

From assessing existing deployments and architectures, and strategy development, through to design and eventual delivery, the Dublin, Ireland-headquartered company will undoubtedly have a branch local to you from where it can coordinate IT portfolio management services according to your needs.

Drawing from a broad ecosystem of relationships, Accenture can stay at the forefront of software engineering innovation and can add value for its clients.

*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of TechHQ