The focus of IT organizations is to create, operate and support applications. These are selected activities that are usually the result of business requests. IT responds to these requests but who is “managing” the applications? What is “Application Management”? What is the difference between Application Management and Ownership?
In order to understand Application Management, we have to identify the Application Life-Cycle.
Conception – Someone has an idea or a need for new functionality
Inception – The creation of the functionality is formally approved
Design – Includes both Functional Design and Technical Design
Build – Create and Implement the Functionality
Operate, Support, and Enhance
Decommission – This is part of the life-cycle that is ignored
Application Management refers to the responsibility for defining, creating, operating, supporting, and decommissioning applications. In most organizations, there is no single department or individual who “manages” the application across the life cycle. Ownership for the individual activities is distributed or in some cases unassigned but many organizations do not assign an Application Manager.
There is another activity that is commonly unassigned but should be repeated across the life-cycle of an Application. I am referring to Application Rationalization which is nothing more than justifying the existence and value of the application. Not only should the application be rationalized during inception, it should be rationalized periodically throughout the life cycle.
The Rationalization process should answer the following questions during Inception and throughout the life of the application. The answers to these questions will justify the continued existence of an application.
Do I need it?
What value is provided?
Is there an alternative?
Is it redundant?
Is the application or technology obsolete?
An “Application Manager” should be assigned to manage the life-cycle of an application. This role should rationalize the application on a periodic basis to ensure the application still provides value. This role should assess the operational cost, stability, risks, and benefits and recommend a long-term strategy. They should also own the responsibility for managing the development and support budget and work closely with the business to ensure that value is being delivered.
What are the benefits? This approach will ensure that applications continue to deliver value in a cost-effective manner and that risks are identified and addressed. Finally, this role helps to coordinate the requirements across business units and ensures the corporate IT budget is not wasted operating and supporting low value or obsolete applications.