Technology Obsolescence Risk Management Part 3: The Who

Posted by Neil Sheppard on February 15, 2024
Technology Obsolescence Risk Management Part 3: The Who

Technology obsolescence risk management is an important cost-saving exercise for any IT department, but who is responsible for it? In the final part of our series, we detail the stakeholders for technology risk management.

Technology obsolescence risk management is vital for rationalization, modernization, and budgeting your IT landscape. Yet, who is responsible for obsolete IT components?

Your hardware, servers, and operating systems span your entire organization and are used by various teams and business units. When those IT components enter end-of-life, does the responsibility of replacing or maintaining them fall on:

  1. the users?
  2. the service delivery manager?
  3. your enterprise architects?
  4. the application owners?
  5. your IT team?

You may be able to guess that the answer is: all of the above. It takes all these roles and more to implement technology obsolescence risk management.

In part three of our series on the topic, we'll look closely at how each of these groups needs to contribute and why you need to build a technology obsolescence risk management community to succeed. Let's cover each in turn.

1 The Users Of The Component

The very first people to know that an IT component is reaching the end of its life are the ones who use it every day. If you enlist these people in technology obsolescence risk management, then not only can they give you an early warning, but you also increase their motivation.

Instead of them feeling that they've been abandoned by their IT team and left to struggle with outdated technology, you can re-assure them that you're all working together to enable their work as part of a wider business strategy. Democratizing technology obsolescence risk management by putting it into the hands of your entire organization is beneficial for everyone.

This is similar to the "Andon Cord" methodology that Amazon uses. Under this scheme, any Amazon employee is able to take any product off sale if they discover an issue.

2 The Service Delivery Manager

A service delivery manager's role is self-explanatory, and effective, modern technology is necessary to deliver digital services. As such, technology obsolescence risk management is a key part of their objectives.

Conversely, service delivery managers will have all the crucial documentation of your IT components from your configuration management database (CMDB) that you need in order to associate obsolescence risk with each. This could lead to the mistaken assumption that service delivery managers own the IT components, but this view can lead to territorial issues that will prevent collaboration.

Far more productive is for everyone to take ownership of technology obsolescence risk management, rather than any particular element of it. The service delivery manager's role is to contribute half of the necessary information.

3 Enterprise Architects

The rest of the information is contributed by your enterprise architects. By taking the list of IT components the service delivery managers provide, your enterprise architects can map those components against the applications that those components support.

Your enterprise architects should already have those applications mapped against your business capabilities. This gives you a direct line between your IT components and the business capabilities that they enable.

If your enterprise architecture function hasn't yet mapped your application against your business capabilities, we have a free template business capability map to get you started. You can download it below:

Business Capability Map Example

4 The Application Owners

Now you know what applications your IT components support, you can add a list of the owners of those applications contributed by your enterprise architects. This allows you to bring in those application owners as stakeholders for your technology obsolescence risk management function.

The application owners will be invested in upgrading the obsolete technology that supports their applications, but will also be able to provide you with specifications regarding what capabilities they need from their components. Providing exactly the components needed to support the applications will ensure the highest return on investment.

The risk here is that the application owners could assume this means they will be given whatever technology they desire. That's why it's key to: engage them as part of your technology obsolescence risk management initiative ensure they understand the need to maintain obsolete technology until it's financially viable to replace encourage them to work with you on managing obsolescence across your organization.

5 The IT Team

Since your IT team will be the ones retiring your obsolete technology and installing the replacement tech, not to mention maintaining the obsolete tech until that can happen, they need to be involved in the process. They are also set to benefit from modern technology that will require less maintenance than end-of-life components.

In this case, it can be tempting to leave the technical work to the IT team and think they don't need to be involved in the technology obsolescence risk management conversation. Yet, context it everything.

Understanding the technology is important to the process and your IT team is in the best position to do so. Equally, being part of the conversations regarding replacing obsolete tech will ensure the IT team know why items are being replaced or not, and help with prioritization.

A Technology Risk Management Community

Once you've assembled all of these stakeholders together, you need to educate them on the purpose and methodology of technology obsolescence risk management. This will help co-ordinate your efforts by getting everyone on the same page.

You can then create a process for users to identify obsolescence to be explored by the other teams working together before a decision can be made about what's the best way to proceed. You then need to, again, raise awareness of this by building a technology obsolescence risk management community.

Create documentation, training sessions, a messaging channel, and have regular council meetings to maintain engagement among the stakeholders. This requires ongoing effort to maintain this community and also a central focus for documentation.

This will take the form of a single source of truth for your technology obsolescence information. It needs to be a simple system that can visualize end-of-life IT components for everyone in your community to discuss.

How LeanIX Can Minimize Your Technology Risk

The single source of truth to focus your community on technology obsolescence risk management is the LeanIX Technology Risk and Compliance product. This system will empower you to manage your technology obsolescence risk using our built-in lifecycle catalog and integration with the ServiceNow configuration management database (CMDB).

The LeanIX product will call on the information from your CMDB and automatically match it to our lifecycle catalog. This will tell you where each IT component is in its lifecycle and visually display which components are entering end-of-life.

Matching this with your enterprise architecture information within LeanIX will allow you to identify the applications and business capabilities that are supported by each component, as well as the owners of those applications. You can then map and visualize any changes to your landscape and monitor compliance with regulators.

Using the platform, one of our customers was able to reduce their technical debt by 25% in just one year. To find out more about how this was possible, book a demo of our platform:

Request demo

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