The BBC draws attention in it’s article Why IT failures at big companies are unlikely to go away to one of the largest challenges in developing and defining an end to end strategy – the aging of software – for organisations, especially larger, older and more complex ones. However, not only is this a challenge for larger organisations but also for SMEs. It is all to easy for reasons of economy to avoid upgrades, bypass patches and to generally keep the status quo. The article states that maybe as much as 20% of any software in organisations, and not just big banks, is out of date. Any house or car owner knows the perils of failing to update things before they reach the end of their life – would you drive a car with worn of tyres or eat something that has already past the best before date? But somehow we are happy to run software that is years past its replacement date.
The challenges of working out where and when to invest in the replacement and upgrade of technologies is a key subject for any IT strategy. Nonetheless, how do you go about this?
At Strategy4IT we advocate the heat mapping of the technical solutions underpinning the business processes. Those familiar with our tool Strategy4IT will know that by mapping the used systems across different process steps, relating that to the product offerings, as well as the usage based on locations. Then, it is possible to visualize on one page the complete IT landscape in an easy to understand report. Our tool also allows the costs to be mapped out onto the landscape. Further, equally useful mappings possible are the age of the systems that you have in the portfolio, and/or the number of major releases of the software product behind marketplace. Laying out your systems portfolio and listing every item with when it was installed, which version it is, and comparing to the latest version and or the software or hardware expected end date will help you rapidly identify the hottest areas of your focus. This is not a difficult exercise but one that many organisations skip over in the interest of more exciting projects. Ignoring the IT replacement cycle is rather like failing to replace the tyres on your hot hatch GTi but fitting an extra spoiler instead – sometimes money is better spent on the fundamentals.