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Technology Obsolescence Risk Management Part 2: The What

Posted by Neil Sheppard on February 8, 2024
Technology Obsolescence Risk Management Part 2: The What

Technology obsolescence risk management is a vital function for your business to optimize its IT landscape. In the next part of our series, let's look at what you need to do to begin to develop this capability.

The rapidly accelerating pace of change in the market is making continuous business transformation a necessity. Yet, a by-product of that ongoing change is technical debt.

In the first part of this series, we explained how technology obsolescence risk management is a business function that works to clear out your old IT components and hardware to leave your IT operations lean, affordable, agile, and effective. How do you start, however, and what does the actual process of technology obsolescence risk management look like?

In the final part of this series, we'll consider who is responsible for technology obsolescence risk management. For now, however, let's consider what technology obsolescence risk management means on a day-to-day basis, and how it can support your business transformation.

What Is Technology Obsolescence Risk Management?

The key to technology obsolescence risk management is bringing together information from across your siloed systems in order to gain clarity on how your components and applications interconnect. Once you have that information, you can see at a glance which obsolete components you need to deal with and when.

On the one hand, enterprise architects will have detailed information regarding your application portfolio. They should also be able to map those applications against your business capabilities in order to confirm which applications support which mission-critical functions.

Meanwhile, a configuration management database (CMDB), such as ServiceNow, will document all your various IT components. Once you combine these two repositories, you'll gain insight into which legacy IT components you can live without and which you can't.

Working in this way will unlock a variety of capabilities for your enterprise architecture team, including:

Monitoring Component Lifecycles

Having oversight of your IT infrastructure means your enterprise architects can gain clarity on which IT components are still under support and when each of them are entering end-of-life. Maintaining this calendar is key for being prepared to replace components while you still have the time to do so at your own pace.

Combining this with information on which business capabilities are supported by which IT components allows you to prioritize replacing legacy components based on which are mission critical. This will prevent disastrous incidents like the one that befell the US IRS in 2017.

Balancing Technical Debt

On the other hand, sometimes the task of removing an older IT component from your tech stack is simply not your current priority. A big part of technology risk management is your enterprise architects being able to do the math to determine whether the effort of removing a component is worthwhile and when is the best time to do it.

Balancing the spreadsheet of cost and risk versus value for maintaining end-of-life components is key for optimizing your IT landscape. An acceptable amount of technical debt is to be expected, but keeping the right level is vital.

Mapping Your IT Landscape

Once you identify an end-of-life IT component that's ready to be removed, you still need to disentangle it from your infrastructure and the flow of your data in order to ensure retiring it won't cause issues across the rest of your IT landscape. The only way to be sure it's safe to remove a component is to know exactly how it connects to the rest of your tech stack.

To gain clarity on how each piece of hardware and software fits into your landscape, you need to have a map of the whole infrastructure. Maintaining that map across your IT components, applications, and business capabilities, and keeping it current, is intensive work and that requires enterprise architect support.

Leading Data Conversion

Not all of your hardware speaks the same language. If you want to replace one component with another, your enterprise architects need to make sure that your data is in the right format for the new platform.

To do that, they need the right information to know what applications that component supports and what data is stored there. If you replace an outdated Windows machine with a brand-new Mac, you need to be sure it can still read the data it needs to.

Driving Change Management

If you know what applications your IT components support, then you know the users and owners of each application. This allows you to target the stakeholders for any technology replacement efforts.

Since your enterprise architects know the value and the reasons behind any IT component replacement, the change management initiative is best driven by them. Winning stakeholder buy-in for this work is key. Managing Inefficiencies

Even once your enterprise architecture team has determined that it isn't cost-effective to replace a legacy component and it's safe to continue using it, their work still isn't done. They need to mitigate the impact of the outdated tech on your business processes.

This could mean creating redundancies to avoid downtime, easing load on the component, or even training staff to manage the system while working with it. This also requires detailed knowledge of what applications and functions the component supports.

How LeanIX Can Minimize Your Technology Risk

All of the above functions are enabled by The LeanIX Technology Risk and Compliance product. Using our platform, you can pro-actively mitigate your technology obsolescence risk with our out-of-the-box lifecycle catalog and ServiceNow integration.

The LeanIX platform will automatically tell you where each IT component is in its lifecycle, highlighting those that are reaching end-of-support based on the manufacturer's own data. By mapping this data against current information contained within ServiceNow, you can ensure complete oversight of your IT component portfolio.

With this information you can gain:

  • Transparency on your IT landscape and component lifecycles
  • Documentation of the owners of the applications and business functions your components support
  • Assess the impact of any changes you make to your component portfolio
  • Visualize your roadmap for obsolescence management
  • Ensure complete compliance with regulatory requirements

Using this methodology, our customer ADIDAS identified EUR 100,000 of server run cost. While ServiceNow had these marked as operational, the LeanIX lifecycle catalog automatically highlighted them for retirement.

With the LeanIX platform, you can identify cost savings across your application portfolio and drive efficiency. Those savings can then be invested in future innovation.

The Who Of Technology Obsolescence Risk Management

In the final part of this series, we'll consider where the responsibility for technology obsolescence risk management lies.

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