Assess Application Portfolio with

Gartner® TIME Model

The Gartner® TIME model is a method for evaluating and categorizing applications based on their technical and functional fit within an organization.


The Gartner TIME model (Tolerate, Invest, Migrate, Eliminate) is a proven industry standard for planning and executing application rationalization.

It provides a strategic approach to maximize the business value of an application portfolio and evaluate each application fit within an organization.


What is the Gartner® TIME model?

The TIME model is a method for evaluating and categorizing applications based on their technical and functional fit within an organization.

The technical fit pertains to the quality of the application, its maintainability, and its compatibility with other systems.

The functional fit refers to how well the application aligns and supports business capabilities

📚 Related: Use TIME to Engage the Business for Application and Product Portfolio Triage


Model use cases

The Gartner TIME model is widely used in various scenarios, primarily revolving around IT portfolio management and strategic planning.

Here are some of the common use cases:

  • Application rationalization: The most common use case for the TIME model is application rationalization. IT architects use TIME to assess their application portfolio and decide which applications to keep, enhance, replace, or retire. This helps in reducing costs, improving efficiency, and aligning the IT portfolio with business objectives.  
  • IT strategy development: By categorizing applications, you can identify useful applications that require investment, legacy applications that need to be replaced, or redundant applications that can be eliminated.
  • IT budget planning: The TIME model is a useful tool for planning your IT budget. It helps identify which applications need more investment (Invest). It also shows which ones are fine as they are (Tolerate). Some applications might need to be replaced (Migrate), while others could be removed to save money (Eliminate). This approach helps balance your IT budget effectively.
  • Cloud migration planning: Applications in the Migrate quadrant are often good candidates for cloud migration, while those in the Tolerate quadrant might be better suited to remain on-premises.
  • Mergers and acquisitions: The model aids in evaluating the application portfolios of both merging entities. The aim is to decide what happens to each application. Some might be kept as they are. Others could be merged with similar ones. Some applications might be replaced with better options. And some might be completely removed. This systematic approach ensures a smoother integration of IT systems, leading to a more successful merger or acquisition.
  • Technology risk management: By identifying applications that are technically outdated or misaligned with business needs, the TIME model can help in identifying and managing IT risks.
  • Vendor management: By using this model, you can assess the performance of IT vendors. Applications that are not performing well technically might indicate issues with the vendor, leading to decisions about changing vendors or renegotiating contracts. 

📚 Related: Application Rationalization Questionnaire FAQs

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TIME model quadrants

The core of the TIME model lies in its four quadrants, each representing a different strategy for managing applications.

Gartner-TIME-model- quadrants.

The Gartner TIME model in LeanIX. 


Applications that fall under the Tolerate category have a high technical fit but a low functional fit. These may not be strategically valuable, but they are not a priority for change or removal due to their technical adequacy. They are often maintained in their current state, despite their limited contribution to business goals.

The decision to tolerate an application often comes down to the cost and effort associated with replacing or upgrading it. If these factors outweigh the benefits of change, the application is tolerated until a more opportune time for change arises.


Invest applications are those with high technical and functional fit. These applications are integral to the organization's operations and contribute significantly to achieving business objectives. They are typically high-quality applications that are used daily and support important business operations.

The decision to invest in an application is driven by its potential to deliver increased value to the business. This could be through improved efficiency, enhanced functionality, or the ability to support new business initiatives.

Investment might involve upgrading the application, expanding its use within the organization, or integrating it more closely with other systems.


Migrate applications are those with low technical fit but high functional fit. These applications perform important functions but are technically inadequate. They are typically replaced with more efficient, often cloud-based alternatives.

The decision to migrate an application is usually driven by the need to improve technical performance, reduce costs, or better align with the organization's IT strategy.

Migration can be a complex process, requiring careful planning and execution to ensure minimal disruption to business operations.


Applications that fall under the Eliminate category have low technical and functional fit. These applications, which perform poorly and are no longer aligned with business activities, are targeted for removal from the application portfolio.

The decision to eliminate an application is typically driven by the need to reduce costs, simplify the IT landscape, or mitigate risks associated with outdated software.

Elimination can also be a complex process, requiring careful planning to manage dependencies and ensure a smooth transition for users. 

📚 Related: What are Mission-critical Applications? and What are Business-critical Applications?



Implementing the TIME model

Implementing the Gartner® TIME model involves a systematic approach that begins with a thorough assessment of the application portfolio.

Here are the steps to follow:

1. Build your application inventory

The first step is to create an inventory of all the applications in use within the organization. This includes not only the applications that are officially sanctioned but also those that are used informally by different teams.

2. Perform app portfolio assessment

Assess each application for its technical fit and functional fit. The technical fit relates to the quality of the application, its maintainability, and its compatibility with other systems. The functional fit refers to how well the application aligns with business needs and supports business capabilities and processes.

3. Categorize applications into TIME quadrants

Based on the assessment in the previous step, categorize each application into one of the four TIME quadrants: Tolerate, Invest, Migrate, or Eliminate. This categorization provides you with a clear roadmap for managing each application.

Application rationalization decision tree.Application rationalization decision tree. Source: Guide to Application Rationalization

Besides the helpful decision tree above, try answering these questions for each application. Use Tolerate quadrant as the starting point:

  1. Does the application meet or surpass technical standards? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, consider other quadrants.
  2. Is the application easy to maintain and easy to use without advanced training? If yes, proceed to the next question. If no, consider other quadrants.
  3. Does the application align with business needs and support business capabilities and processes? If no, the application falls under the Tolerate quadrant. If yes, consider the Invest quadrant.

4. Plan the application roadmap

For each quadrant, a specific action plan is developed to reach desired target portfolio state:

  • Tolerate: applications are maintained in their current state
  • Invest: applications are targeted for enhancement or expansion
  • Migrate: applications are planned for replacement
  • Eliminate: applications are scheduled for decommissioning

5. Execute and monitor

The action plans are then executed with careful monitoring to ensure the desired outcomes are achieved. This may involve project management, change management, and risk management activities.

6. Review and update

The TIME model is not a one-time exercise but a continuous process. The application portfolio should be reviewed regularly, and the TIME categorizations updated as necessary to reflect changes in the applications or in the business needs and objectives.


TIME model alternatives

Even though the Gartner® TIME model is a popular framework for application portfolio management, there are other methodologies that organizations can use as alternatives or complements.

Here are a few:

  1. Gartner's Pace-Layered Application Strategy:  This model categorizes applications or business capabilities into three layers based on their role and rate of change:
    • Systems of Record (stable core applications)
    • Systems of Differentiation (applications that enable unique company processes or industry-specific capabilities)
    • Systems of Innovation (new applications that are built on an ad hoc basis to address new business requirements or opportunities)
  2. The Portfolio Matrix (BCG Matrix):  A product portfolio management matrix from Boston Consulting Group. Matrix can also be applied to application portfolio management. It categorizes applications into four types based on their business value and technical condition:
    • Stars (high business value, good technical condition)
    • Cash Cows (high business value, poor technical condition)
    • Question Marks (low business value, good technical condition)
    • Pets (low business value, poor technical condition).
  3. McKinsey's 9-Box Matrix:  This model evaluates applications based on their strategic fit and performance. It's a more complex model that provides a granular view of the application portfolio.
  4. Forrester's Total Economic Impact (TEI) Framework:  TEI focuses on costs, benefits, flexibility, and risk factors to evaluate the economic impact of technology investments.

Each of these models has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice of model depends on the specific needs and context of the organization.


How does LeanIX EAM help?

The application portfolio assessment solution and application rationalization solution by LeanIX support the Gartner TIME model by providing a comprehensive tool for data gathering, analysis, and visualization.

It creates a 360° view of your application landscape, automates the process of acquiring data, and displays insights in an intuitive format.

EN-time-modelLeanIX Application Landscape with TIME Model View

This can significantly reduce the time and effort required to implement the TIME model and increase the accuracy and reliability of the results.

📚 Related: Evaluate Data with LeanIX EAM



The Gartner® TIME model provides a strategic framework for application rationalization, enabling organizations to maximize the value of their application portfolio.

By categorizing applications into Tolerate, Invest, Migrate, and Eliminate, organizations can make informed decisions about maintaining, enhancing, replacing, or removing applications.

The LeanIX EAM further facilitates this process, providing a comprehensive tool for data gathering, analysis, and visualization. 

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Frequently asked questions on the Gartner® TIME model

What is the Gartner TIME model?

The Gartner TIME model is a method for evaluating and categorizing applications based on their technical and functional fit within an organization.

What are the 4 quadrants of Gartner?

Application portfolio analysis is a process in which businesses assess the value and relevance of the various applications they use. This analysis typically involves identifying all the applications in use within an organization, evaluating their relative importance and usefulness, and determining whether they are still needed or if they should be replaced with more effective solutions.

The goal of application portfolio analysis is to help businesses make informed decisions about their technology investments and to ensure that their application landscape is optimized for maximum efficiency and productivity.

What should be included in an application portfolio?

An application portfolio typically includes a comprehensive list of all the applications in use within an organization. This list should include information about each application, such as its name, purpose, vendor, cost, and any associated contracts or licenses.

Additionally, the portfolio should include details about the technology used by each application, such as the operating system, database, and programming languages. It may also include information about the application's users, such as the departments or teams that use it and the number of users.

Overall, an application portfolio should provide a complete picture of an organization's application landscape, allowing decision-makers to understand how the applications fit together and how they support the organization's goals and objectives.


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