zEnterprise series part 3 of 5: Mind the Gap

04.29.2013

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Do you – or your organization – have the Knowledge? The Knowledge to help your organization avoid taking a strategic wrong turn while making all the right ones. Because in this context, the Knowledge is about making the right IT changes, just when they’re needed.

This, the third of our five zEnterprise blogs, discusses how organizations can ‘get the Knowledge’ by better understanding their most cherished assets: their core applications.

Step by step
Effectively maintaining critical applications isn’t easy. You need to know what you’re doing. As with anything, knowledge and experience can make the difference between getting straight to your destination – or stumbling in the dark…

If 70%[1] of IT spend is on ‘lights on’ activity, most development time is typically spent on maintenance. So you need to know which applications need maintenance. Gaps in your Knowledge of core applications slow down delivery cycles and contribute to the rise in IT debt[2].

The rise in what?

IT debt is a growing problem. Many software applications haven’t been properly looked after for years, and the lack of investment and focus has resulted in a major backlog as these applications, which hold core value to the business, have become harder and harder to maintain. IT debt can only be cleared with the appropriate skills, resources – and the right decisions about delivering them.

Managing IT estate insight and knowledge is often called Application Portfolio Management (APM)[3].  As we’ve said, this management is no mean feat. Owners need to achieve a clear understanding of their applications. They must consider the size, complexity and number of interfaces.  Whether this maintenance effort is undertaken internally, or outsourced, the activities remain the same. And every journey starts with a first step…

Getting to the root of the problem
If you had a single, go-to person who knew all the applications and code and was there to help plan changes, check dependencies and validate strategy, then there wouldn’t be a problem. But the chances are that you don’t. Few organizations do. But without a single source of knowledge, development teams can suffer from an application maintenance knowledge gap.

Rebuilding that Knowledge is vital as you seek to reduce the backlog and provide better core systems maintenance.  But how?

Bridge that gap
Fear not. With a scientific, seven step approach, owners can analyse their core applications and bridge their maintenance knowledge gap:

1. Take stock
Your starting point is to create a single, unifying list of everything that needs sorting out by building a repository of existing applications and performing preliminary analysis on them, which will help you decide what to modernize.

2. Select modernization/maintenance targets
Review your application portfolio. Once you’ve determined how to prioritize them, address the highest priority candidates for modernization/overhaul, or replacement, first.

3. Application decomposition – segmentation and tagging
Categorize your candidates by dividing the parsed applications into groups. The highest priority applications – perhaps the ones you want to modernize – must be analysed to be fully understood. Categorize and tag each application according to your key criteria.

4. Application Analysis
You need a firm grasp of your sub-systems of interest, their content and inter-relationships. Visually reviewing application programs, screens, files, transactions, and their inter-relationships makes this easier.

5. Program analysis
A detailed understanding of the programs is important to developers, because nobody wants to make changes in isolation. Being able to locate a point of interest in a program – and understand the various ways it may have been possible to reach it – is key.

6. Object location and listing
In this step, owners must estimate the scope of changes required for each piece of code that needs changing.

7. Field change analysis
Planning for code change requires impact analysis to identify all the potentially dependent fields. Locate the related variables and records – the synonyms – and add them to the list of maintenance items.

Need help?
That’s at least seven steps too many for some organizations. They lack the enabling technology to undertake this level of analysis – and it’s not a job that can be done without some help. Imagine trying to understand all the application information using manual searches? Can you imagine how long it would take and how error-prone the results could be?

Introducing Enterprise Analyzer

Designed with these steps in mind, Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer, of the Micro Focus Enterprise product set, accelerates and simplifies portfolio management and analysis. Enterprise Analyzer delivers the detailed information developers need to address their daily tasks and help you achieve enterprise application management success: they can be 40% more productive. Turn seven steps – and many hours’ work – into a single click.

Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer provides a visual, automated and highly productive foundation for application understanding

IT debt is a growing problem in many organizations today. Many software applications remain untouched since they were first installed years ago, without being modernized or replaced. The backlog of work continues to grow as – with each passing year – the understanding needed to make key changes declines further.

With the appropriate approach, supported by game-changing technology, your maintenance backlog can be confronted head-on and you can bridge the knowledge gap.

Ready for action

Our white paper Bridging the Knowledge Maintenance Gap gives more detailed information about how Micro Focus Enterprise Analyzer can help improve maintenance knowledge.

Missed a blog?

Click here for the first blog in this series. Click here for the second.


[1] Source: Forrester.

[2] IT Debt: the backlog of work IT has been requested to undertake by the business, which has yet to be actioned.

[3] Application Portfolio Management.

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