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Addressing legacy inflexibility: Focusing on products and business needs

The most effective approach to simplifying IT is to start with business needs and product sets, not with IT itself.

Overview

Business requirements for flexible, innovative IT are generating pressure for IT simplification and adoption of new technology solutions, like cloud and mobility, that facilitate continual business changes.

As a result, IT simplification is often a business priority for the CIO and the board. The most effective approach to simplifying IT is to start not with IT itself, but with business needs and product sets.

Any program to renew the IT environment must take into account the business’ evolving strategy—or miss the opportunity to create systems able to support growth.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to addressing legacy complexity and inflexibility. Only with a clear view of the business’ requirements can the CIO make the right technology simplification choices.



There’s no one-size-fits-all fix for legacy complexity. Only with a clear view of the business requirements can a CIO make the right technology simplification choices.

Analysis

The triggers for IT legacy renewal demand a business-grounded approach that enhances both IT and the business as a whole.

To approach simplification and integration from an IT perspective, you’re starting at the wrong end.

Simplification of technology requires a broader debate about simplifying the business. These two often distinct agendas are increasingly being combined on the corporate investment agenda.

A priority throughout the legacy renewal and simplification process is a rigorous focus on architectures, on both the IT and business sides.

Our High Performance IT research has found that organizations that excel at agility generally maintain a strong focus on architecture and use this focus to inform investment decisions.

Recommendations

The business-IT engagement model must exploit a simpler, standardized set of components.

Management must perform a “root-and-branch” review of their products and services, the value generated and the infrastructure used.

Our research identified five major steps in a thorough review:

  1. Product Cost Transparency—Examine the expected relevance and relative costs of your products and services. This understanding can support a strong case for “re-platforming.” It also enables you to target obsolete products and paves the way for renewal of IT and product architecture to support growth.

  2. Step Up New Platform—Having identified the most viable products and services and their IT requirements, create a new platform to support them.

  1. Transition Products to New Platform—Move IT processing support from legacy components to a strategic set, and transition its portfolio of active products and services to the new IT platform.

  2. Close Unprofitable Products—Eliminate unprofitable products and services.

  3. Transition Current Platform or Remaining Products—Transition your current platforms or remaining products and services to a replatformed operation to support legacy requirements for as long as necessary.

Inflexible legacy architecture constrains not only IT’s ability to support the business, but also a business’ potential to grow and compete.

There is strong argument for renewal and simplification of IT architectures in many organizations.

A renewal program must pursue simplification of both IT and the business to stimulate growth. Organizations should focus on how business and IT architectures can be simplified by moving to fewer, standardized components, thus renewing the entire organization’s capacity for growth.