By Len de Goede, Vice President Systems Integration at T-Systems in South Africa
Applications are core to any modern business, and provide a host of features to enhance productivity, enable competitiveness and deliver supporting business functions. However, if these applications are not optimised, developed and maintained throughout their lifecycle, they will fail to deliver on expected benefits over time. These legacy applications become increasingly less effective and more costly, and are less adaptable to changing business needs and markets. Outsourced Application Management and Modernisation (AMM) is addressing these challenges, ensuring that legacy applications are updated to meet current needs and that existing applications are managed to ensure they continue to provide desired functionality.
A key driver within any organisation is cost savings and among the many benefits that AMM offers, this is a key benefit. Legacy applications can simply be updated, rather than having to ‘rip and replace’ them, saving capital outlay. AMM also enables applications to rapidly scale according to fluctuating needs and delivers flexibility. The end result of this is a more agile business that is able to respond quickly to market and organisational challenges, increasing competitive advantage and improving bottom line profits along with cost savings.
As the name suggests, one of the most crucial elements of AMM is application management. As part of a comprehensive AMM service, an outsourced provider takes ownership of an organisation’s business applications for a specified period of time. This unlocks resources within the organisation to focus on its core business rather than being burdened with this responsibility.
Application management consists of a number of phases, from the analysis of the current environment, planning and preparation which incorporates due diligence, service design and transition planning, transfer of services, and ongoing operations.
Application modernisation is the second aspect of an AMM programme, and aims to provide sustained improvement of the application landscape for the ongoing enablement of the business operations. This process should always take into consideration the organisation’s entire business, ICT and service context, to ensure that any modernisation of applications will increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the business as a whole. Modernisation projects should be based on a thorough analysis of potential improvements to efficiency and effectiveness across these three contexts.
Modernising the application landscape is a three-stage process which includes industrialisation, consolidation and finally transformation. Industrialisation focuses on the standardisation of service processes and the sourcing and service delivery model. Consolidation involves not only bringing together the application landscapes but also harmonising the embedded business processes, the related middleware and extensive deployment of virtualisation. Transformation includes the introduction of Software as a Service (SaaS), the transformation of service management architecture to Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) and the transfer of applications to network-centric infrastructures.
Together, these three stages of modernisation deliver multiple benefits. Transferring enterprise applications to cost-effective standardised IT platforms offers considerable potential for improvement, while transforming legacy systems to applications that are based on leading standard software products that reduces operating costs. This process also offers a variety of additional functions designed to standardise simplify and accelerate business processes.
AMM not only enables organisations to reduce their application costs, it also ensures that applications have maximum availability and functionality with limited/minimum interruptions that could cause delays for business. Modernisation, including industrialisation, consolidation and transformation, ensures that applications are more effective and that business processes are simplified thereby increasing efficiency and further reducing operating costs. Access to specialised skills through the use of an outsourced provider also ensures that AMM services are of the highest possible quality, and that solutions can be carefully planned to proactively exploit emerging business opportunities.
While AMM offers significant business benefits, it is important to bear in mind that the AMM service should be governed by a comprehensive standard service catalogue and a set of Service Level Agreements (SLAs). This ensures that service delivery and quality is sustained throughout all phases of application management. As with any outsourced or consultancy offering, the service and pricing model should be tailored towards the individual needs of an organisation. The configuration of the service package should also be adaptable at any time to ensure that outsourced services continue to meet the changing needs of a business in response to shifting markets.
By harnessing AMM, ensuring that applications are managed and updated throughout their lifecycle, organisations can ensure optimal productivity and functionality at all times while benefiting from reduced cost. This in turn improves business agility and provides room for growth, giving businesses the all important edge over their competition.