Lean IT

Are you supporting obsolete Applications?

When a new application is implemented, what happens to the application that was replaced?  The obvious answer should be … the obsolete application is retired.  Unfortunately, it is quite common for IT organizations to keep both the old and new applications operational.  In some cases, even the replacement system has been replaced so there are three systems with redundant capabilities.

Why does this occur?  Here is a list of some of the most common reasons why systems are not retired:

  • The old system is kept operational as a temporary contingency in case there are problems but there is no plan for retiring the application
  • Application is kept operational to access historical data where data retention is mandatory because historical data was not migrated
  • There is no ownership assigned for retiring the application
  • Business users continue to use the old application as long as it is available because they have a greater comfort level with the old system.
  • There is no business owner who is accountable for the costs and the existence of redundant applications.
  • Lack of business priority
  • Lack of an accurate Application Inventory
  • Lack of process for retiring applications

What would be the expected benefits if businesses rationalized their applications and authorized the retirement of obsolete applications?

  • Reduce support and operations costs
  • Reduce duplication of data and functions and the resulting need for reconciliation
  • Eliminate the risk from operating and supporting obsolete technology

Retiring an application is not a trivial endeavor.  The following items must be addressed:

  • Who is using the obsolete application and why?
  • Do the business users have access to an alternate capability and do they know how to use it?
  • What is the best time to retire the application (e.g. Year End) to minimize disruption?
  • What will happen to the historical data?
  • Should the application be de-commissioned and removed from production or be rendered inaccessible?
  • What will happen to the supporting infrastructure?

The other factor that will make it easier to retire applications is to assign ownership to the team who is implementing the replacement application.  This will provide incentive for the implementation team to make decisions that facilitate instead of inhibiting application retirement.

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