Application Overhaul Key Initiative Overview



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This overview provides a high-level description of the Application Overhaul Key Initiative. IT leaders can use this guide to understand how to develop an application strategy based on business strategy and an application portfolio analysis.


An application overhaul takes place as part of an application strategy, which is a plan to achieve a business outcome through the use of technology.

To be successful in the ever-changing business world, enterprises need a coherent application strategy. Too often, the IT conversation is dominated by what projects to do next, the status of existing projects and talk of maintenance efforts. Enterprises that ignore long-range planning risk dealing with escalating maintenance costs for out-of-date applications, a lack of access to information critical to decision making and regulatory compliance, and a loss of business agility in an increasingly agile world. To avoid these pitfalls, enterprises must put IT strategic planning at the heart of their IT leaders' management agendas. Such planning includes developing an application strategy, funding a modernization program for their IT portfolios and focusing on retiring older systems.

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

IT leaders who seek to put IT strategic planning at the heart of their management agendas should:

  • Inventory applications, and determine which applications to include in a rationalization analysis.

  • Build a business case for application overhaul based on an analysis of the cost benefits each application offers.

  • Obtain critical buy-in from business executives for the application rationalization progress.

  • Maintain the momentum in their application rationalization effort, and prevent it from stalling out.

  • Accurately assess the time, effort and expenses related to retiring a system.

Pursue an Application Overhaul in Five Phases

Gartner recommends that IT leaders plan application rationalization initiatives in five major phases:

  • Strategize and Plan: Draft a charter to gain agreement on the vision and mandate behind the project, in alignment with business goals. Scope the project, and establish resources, budget and governance systems. Integrate the project with strategic IT and business plans.

  • Architect Solution: Define the architecture, technology and standards for the project. Model business requirements, and detail specifications for solution delivery. Recommend how to implement the project. Define process detail and performance metrics. Communicate the plan.

  • Select Solution: Set requirements and issue RFPs. Analyze market intelligence. Evaluate vendor/service provider options. Choose technologies and vendors/service providers. Negotiate service-level agreements and contracts.

  • Deploy: Design, deploy, staff and manage the implementation. Develop rules, workflows, forms and user interfaces. Define organizational and governance structures. Create a development and test environment. Run tests. Seek user feedback. Manage and monitor risks.

  • Operate and Evolve: Operate and manage the implementation. Revise in response to feedback, risks and changing business requirements. Measure performance. Monitor use and compliance. Develop skills and define best practices for users. Refine governance processes.

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