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Six Ways to Help Clients Lower their Technology/Application Debt
July 2, 2012
Alan Radding, Big4.com Guest Blogger
(A book is the best way to build a consulting practice: ask about ghostwriting your book.)
Every organization that uses technology carries what often is referred to as a technology or application debt. This refers to the burden of unproductive and inefficient technology. For a consultant looking to grow his or her practice, finding the biggest components of the prospects technology debt and offering to streamline it can lead to a nice relationship.
At Capgemini, technology debt is directly related to quality. The consulting firm defines is as “the cost of fixing application quality problems that, if left unfixed, put the business at serious risk.” To Capgemini not every system clunker adds to the technical debt, only those that are highly likely to cause business disruption. In short, the firm does not include all problems, just the serious ones.
It is not unusual for enterprises to have 1000 applications and many more servers. Large enterprises can even have 10,000 or more applications. This portfolio of technology and applications is the source of the organization’s technology or application debt.
Technology can be an asset too, but when the debt gets too high it can become an impediment to business agility, says Accenture’s Adam Burden, executive director of the firm’s Cloud Application and Platform Service and a keynoter at Red Hat’s annual user conference in Boston last week. Watch the video of his presentation here.
An overbearing technology debt is not an unavoidable byproduct of using technology. Here are six ways you can help your clients reduce their technology/application debt.
- Maybe they don’t need all these applications and the servers required to run them in the first place. Stop to rationalize your applications. Look at their usage metrics. Assess what they are used for. You will find that some aren’t needed at all or haven’t been used for years. Others may duplicate what different applications do better. Get rid of them.
- Eliminate shelfware. This is software that was purchased with the best intentions but never was adopted. Maybe the software is too difficult to use; maybe it doesn’t serve your particular business process. For some reason, your people don’t want it and have said so by voting with their feet. Get rid of it and find something they actually will use that does the job. Shelfware represents a problem with your client’s software acquisition process or with its change management process or both.
- Virtualize the server and storage environment. This will effectively increase the overall level of technology utilization while reducing the amount of servers and storage your client needs. The result: a boost in the technology ROI and a corresponding reduction in the technology/application debt. No quibbling with that.
- Look at open source software options. Open source will lower your client’s software costs while giving at least equally good functionality and quality. Have no doubt; open source software is generally enterprise-class and widely accepted.
- Check out the cloud options. Many applications can be delivered more effectively and more efficiently via the cloud. With a SaaS solution, your client’s get the latest, most up-to-date functionality while paying only for what they use when they use it. If you don’t know what’s out there check the SaaS Showplace (now Cloud Computing Showplace), which has a searchable comprehensive directory of SaaS software options.
- Transform and modernize the applications that are critical to your client’s business. There are numerous ways to modernize applications, from adopting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) to adding a graphical user interface. Or, consider platform migration, which reduces the cost of running the applications by moving them to a less expensive, more efficient technology platform.
To lower your client’s technology/application debt and keep it low implement a process to regularly audit the technology/application environment. A rigorous annual review should be sufficient. Lowering your client’s technology debt frees money to invest in new initiatives that enable business agility or flow down to the bottom line while getting better systems in the process.