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Application Rationalization: Is Complexity Avoidable?

Posted by Neil Sheppard on July 24, 2023

Application Rationalization Is Complexity avoidable_

Application rationalization is about removing complexity from your application portfolio, but does it really work? We explore how to succeed at simplification with LeanIX.

Application rationalization is the process of simplifying your software portfolio to make it more user-friendly, easier to maintain, more effective, and - above all else - less expensive. Yet, with hundreds of users in your organization and thousands of business capabilities, is simplicity really possible?

Our customers prove that application portfolio complexity is absolutely avoidable. Avalara, for example, has over 3,000 employees and has recently acquired 28 other companies, each with their own software landscape, but was able to optimize their estate using our LeanIX EAM.

Meanwhile, Carrier Associate Director Enterprise Architecture, Chandra Venkat, explained that after adopting the LeanIX EAM:

Chandra-Venkat“Every leader in the organization knows which applications require rationalization or can be considered as candidates for cloud modernization.”

Both these companies and many others use LeanIX EAM to achieve simplicity in their application portfolio. To find out more, see our product page:

LeanIX EAM: Manage The Transformation And Risk Of Your IT Landscape

In the meantime, let's explore how you too can use LeanIX EAM to stamp out complexity in your software portfolio through application rationalization.

What Is Application Rationalization?

Application rationalization is a framework for deciding which of your organization's software tools to maintain, replace, or retire. It's both a cost-saving process, and also a way to empower your organization with best-of-breed tools.

Primarily, the process is one of categorizing your applications on this basis. Often this will involve the Gartner TIME methodology, tagging your applications to:

  • Tolerate
  • Invest
  • Migrate
  • Eliminate

READ: Gartner TIME Methodology For App Rationalization

To do this, however, you need to have perfect clarity on:

  • what applications you have
  • what your applications do
  • who uses your applications
  • whether your applications are the best-of-breed
  • what alternatives to your applications are available

Imagine untangling and tidying a pile of knotted cables in the dark. Before you can start, you need to turn the light on and get a view of what you're dealing with.

That's why you need a tool that can discover all that information, as well as collate, store, and visualize it. With that clarity, you can begin to unpick the complexity within your software estate.

LeanIX EAM For Application Rationalization

Application rationalization has to begin with clarity about your software portfolio. To provide that, you need a tool that can both visualize that estate and your path to simplicity.

LeanIX EAM provides a number of methods for importing application data. LeanIX also allows you to discover SaaS applications in your organization via integrations with a range of enterprise tools. Finally, you can use our survey feature to collect relevant information to augment the data in your application Fact Sheets.

With custom fields, you can begin to tag all your applications according to the TIME methodology, the 6Rs, or any other method you prefer. You can then build both a model of your ideal application portfolio state and also the roadmap to get there.

USE CASE: Application Rationalization

Armed with your roadmap, you can start to rationalize your application portfolio. Yet, is complexity truly avoidable, even once your portfolio is rationalized?

How Do You Avoid Complexity?

Application rationalization is all about getting the most out of your software estate. Often, this involves cutting back on unneeded and duplicate applications, and updating to best-of-breed tools.

Removing the clutter from your application portfolio is its own reward. Simplifying your software means:

  • easier maintenance
  • greater agility
  • lower training requirements
  • reduced costs
  • faster rationalization in future

This is, indeed, all possible to achieve. With unlimited budget, and a willingness to both make tough choices about stripping back applications and be strict with your colleagues, you could of course remove all complexity from your portfolio. The question remains, however: should you?

Fully optimizing your application portfolio is costly, time-consuming, and will likely cause a lot of frustration for software users along the way. True application rationalization involves a balancing act between technical debt and optimization, meaning some complexity will likely need to be tolerated.

If your team communicates via Slack, for example, it would be easier to remove email and Zoom licenses. However, if your external stakeholders don't use Slack Connect, you could cripple your company's ability to function by doing so.

Ultimately, the art of application rationalization is in making the right choices about what complexity should be removed and what should be tolerated. Making those decisions requires, once again, a comprehensive overview of your application portfolio and a way to model and test changes to find the optimum balance.

Application Rationalization With LeanIX

So, removing complexity is possible, but application rationalization is about achieving optimum value from investment, not minimum complexity. Again, achieving that balance between simplification and not fixing what isn't broken requires clarity on your application portfolio.

To see through the clutter of your application portfolio and immediately tell what needs to be replaced or eliminated, and what should be tolerated, you need the LeanIX EAM. To find out more, see our product page:

LeanIX EAM: Manage The Transformation And Risk Of Your IT Landscape

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