What are your main concerns when you need to take decisions impacting your portfolio?
Several factors – strategic, tactical and operational – play out when you drive portfolio rationalization initiatives; however, there are a vital few which, if ignored, are sufficient to derail these initiatives and offset benefits and effectiveness.
Most successful APR initiatives have a few factors in common:
- Business-first approach
- Strong champions to drive the change
- Coverage from strategy to governance
- Access to on the ground data and facts
Put on the Business lens for shared vision and stakeholder engagement. For shared vision and stakeholder engagement, it is crucial that these initiatives keep business priorities in the forefront. It requires a simple yet fundamental shift in the way IT executives and managers manage their business applications. Unless these portfolio and applications are viewed, understood, analyzed, and evaluated from the ‘business viewpoint’ there is significant risk of not getting the buy-in of your most important stakeholders in discovery, analysis and execution.
A strong sponsor and champions are necessary to ensure the right stakeholders have their say at the right time and become engaged in the process instead of being passive participants. Another aspect of this sponsorship is to communicate regularly and at right time to dispel anxieties from potential changes.
Coverage from strategy to governance is extremely useful in ensuring that all stakeholders understand their participation in change and how that change will benefit them in the short-, medium- and long-term. Keep it too strategic and your rationalization plan will miss out on ‘grassroot’ realities and become unviable. Make it too tactical and it will neither be aligned with where the business wants to be in next 5 years nor actionable enough at the operational level. The approach and framework encompassing strategic business priorities and covering right up to operational and governance levels are most likely to result in an ‘actionable’ roadmap and ‘realistic’ business case for rationalization. Another advantage of this factor is bi-directional flow and validation of facts across strategic and operations level stakeholders.
Availability and access to ground-level data and facts is a significant factor because portfolio information might be available at an aggregated level but be missing at the application level, especially when resources are shared across applications, groups and geographic locations. This lack of granular visibility makes it difficult to assess true cost of ownership, impact on in-flight initiatives, the nature of underlying risks and value deficiencies in the portfolio. Another challenge is to validate data and eliminate bias by scrutinizing the context of data-points.
Outcomes of APR initiatives are critical in making budgeting and funding decisions for projects that eventually enable business growth. It is imperative to approach these initiatives with a business-objectives driven mindset and set them up for success by ensuring these factors are given due importance. It surely helps in creating sharper focus if these factors are articulated well in the context of rationalization objectives.