Companies often use a complex mix of apps to keep their business going. Many of these apps are usually way past their best-before date. This matters, because technology has moved on significantly in the last few years. Apps have become leaner, fitter and easier to maintain. Keeping old software going, although it should have been retired long ago, is a drain on company resources.
The reasons why these apps are still around are many and varied. It could be a hangover from a merger, it may be specific to legacy hardware or it could be that some loyal customers like it.
While the path of least resistance may be to keep such apps running, this can be very costly. Maintaining and operating legacy systems has been shown to cost anywhere from 60 to 80 percent of a corporate IT budget. As people move on or retire, the apps become difficult to maintain. Meanwhile, other apps migrate to the cloud and the resulting incompatibility becomes a barrier for digital transformation.
There may also be technical difficulties in maintaining code that is old and out of date. Software engineers may be reluctant to work with it, preventing the IT department from responding rapidly to requests. This makes the organisation slow moving and may lead to missed market opportunities.
The most rational course of action is often to outsource the app management to an external provider. The IT department will normally rather focus on strategic objectives than on firefighting. However, while an external provider can help, this has its own challenges - providers can vary in reliability, level of security and flexibility.
There are several hidden dangers when engaging an external provider – savings can be lower than expected; the provider may not be as innovative as hoped; the legacy apps may not evolve at pace with the company’s development; the customer and provider may have conflicting views of the quality of service achieved; and the location of the support team may not provide the optimum balance between cost and service.
A tried and tested method
A far-sighted provider will collaborate closely with you and take the time to understand the situation, find the best way to optimise performance and reduce costs. The provider will have a tried and tested method and adapt it to suit your needs, use automated tools and take advantage of the latest techniques. Its team will also offer regular onsite contact.
The DynAMO framework, a tried and tested process from NTT DATA for managing and evolving apps, delivers just such a service.
It encompasses four stages.
- The first stage – engagement analysis and planning – uses standardised tools to assess the current landscape.
- The second stage – transitioning-in – brings NTT DATA’s team up to speed with the systems and how to run them.
- The third stage – service delivery and optimisation – delivers the continuous modernisation of apps that the customer needs.
- The final stage – transitioning-out – accelerates decommissioning of outdated technology, produces final documentation and transfers knowledge back to the customer.
This programme was recently carried out in cooperation with a mobile operator. The company was introducing a new platform for digital IT services. However, many customers continued to use previous digital platforms. The operator needed to ensure cost effective support for these customers, while also freeing up resources to focus on its new platform. NTT DATA helped improve the reliability and security of the legacy platform, enabling the operator to shift resources to focus on future development of its business.
This demonstrates the value of outsourcing app management to a reliable provider. Avoiding the pitfalls and ensuring that the selected provider is responsive, agile and uses a proven approach, the company can achieve the expected results whilst making better use of capacity in its IT department.