Managing your company app portfolio

May 29, 2019

Release/Change management.  For those of you who aren't in the technology industry, in the simplest of terms this refers to the implementation of new or updated applications into a live technology environment.  This isn't something that most companies will put much thought towards, but as your business starts to use more and more technology it becomes increasingly important.

For one of our newest customers, this became a critical issue... one that was hurting their core business and causing them to hemorrhage money.  

This customer approached us after years of taking the route that most companies take.  They had maintenance contracts with the individual technology vendors that had developed their applications.  This makes sense, doesn't it?  The vendor developed that application, therefore they are experts in it... so who is better suited to maintain and upgrade it?  Except imagine that your technology portfolio expands and expands, and now you have dozens of these maintenance contracts with dozens of vendors.  Costs are beginning to pile up.  

That is exactly what happened to this customer.  Different departments contracted with different technology vendors and their application portfolio grew to a staggering 150+ applications (used both internally and sold externally).  They had so many contracts across so many different applications, it not only became incredibly expensive to maintain, it became a nightmare to do any system wide infrastructure upgrades.  They realized that they could not continue operating in this fashion, so they itemized their needs and began researching their options

The basic needs were simple:

  • Maintain 150+ applications
  • Minimize downtime
  • Source business requirements for new software and upgrades
  • Develop modifications/upgrades
  • Manual and automated testing
  • Manage upgrade and new application releases
  • Coordinate global infrastructure changes
  • Analyze portfolio performance
  • Develop advanced reports and dashboards for executive team on application usage and performance
  • Troubleshoot 
  • Train system users

 

Ultimately there were 2 viable options for this customer, either build an internal technical team to eliminate existing maintenance and development contracts or consolidate existing contracts under a minimal number of vendors.

During their research, the customer began to understand the difficulties in building their own internal technical team.  The costs associated with bringing on multiple team members was quite high, which was compounded by the cost of benefits and employee taxes.  This was further complicated by the lack of knowledge and expertise necessary to source and screen the necessary candidates.  The customer made an attempt at building an internal team, but quickly found that these aforementioned difficulties were insurmountable... so they began researching technology vendors who could outsource the work for them.

That research led them to Astir IT.  Through some mutual contacts, the customer asked us to analyze their technology environment and offer a potential solution.  We offered them an on-site resource who would act as the sole point of contact for any inquiries, issues, or needs associated with any of their 150+ applications.  This individual would be an expert in their applications and the underlying technology, and would site at their headquarters during normal business hours so they were always accessible.  Behind this resource would be an entire technical team, and together all of the needs outlined by the client would be completely satiated.  This solution would dramatically decrease their costs and enable them to gain holistic control of their entire technology environment.  This solution was also extremely flexible, allowing for exponential scaling as the portfolio and technology environment continued to grow.  

After an initial discovery period where the Astir resource learned the customers applications, Astir has successfully implemented these managed services for the customer, who has been able to refocus energy towards building the business.  Currently, Astir is still managing the customer application portfolio, which has grown by another whopping 40% at the time this blog was written.

Release/change management is often overlooked by those who aren't in the technology arena.  As your technology environment grows, this can become an integral part of your success... proper oversight of your infrastructure and software can save your business massive headaches and allow you to remain at peak efficiency.   

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Properly manage your technology environment

April 19, 2016

Hello,

This is the first article in a series focusing on the wonderful work our IT consultants do for our clients.  Here at Astir IT, we are proud of our expert IT resources, and understand that they are the reason for our success.  We invest heavily in our people so our clients can reap the benefits.  Each article in this series will focus on a specific case study where one of our IT consultants had a great, positive impact in their client project.  You can read more about these case studies HERE.

One of the many issues that faces large organizations is the ability to properly manage their technology environment.  With the sheer volume of technologies our business uses on a daily basis, it can be quite difficult to keep them all operating efficiently and synced.  There are a wide range of issues that can be throwing your IT environment out of line... it could be a matter of application versioning, broken APIs, inadequate support, etc.  Over time, organizations will accrue a number of different applications, databases, intranets, etc.; and rather than investing the time and effort to maintain them, they will invariably replace them when issues surface.

Usually this is a very expensive proposition, since proper release/change management efforts could have avoided any and all problems faced.

Then there is the added problem of training.  Often times a large organization will have multiple subject matter experts (SMEs) who specialize in a subset of their technologies.  As soon as a new person is brought on board and needs to learn multiple systems, they are forced to meet with multiple people over the course of days (if not weeks) to be brought up to speed.  This is just another example of the inefficiencies we create by not having the proper support in place.  The addition of a change/release expert to your IT team could easily answer these problems, and save your organization time, effort, (and most importantly) money.

As a real-world example, Astir IT Solutions, Inc. has a client who faced these exact issues.  They had a portfolio of over 150 applications... and lacked the expertise and manpower to properly manage, assess, and train personnel in such a vast pool of technology.  By bringing on one of our seasoned release/change management IT consultants, they were able to finally get a handle on such a huge tech portfolio.  This saved the client a tremendous amount of time, effort, and money, as this individual was able to provide impact analyses to identify what applications to utilize in what capacity, manage versions, and train users and stakeholders.  You can read more about our Release/Change Management Case Study HERE.

If you or your organization has a need for highly trained IT consultants, please feel free to email me today at contact@astirit.com.

Best Regards,

Adam Moltisanti

Manager, Marketing and Vendor Relations

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