Over the last 10 years (both with AMR Research and now Gartner), I have spoken to many application leaders about how to better manage their application portfolio. While some of their circumstances are different, there is always a lot in common across companies. They are dealing with a diverse portfolio of applications which span from 30 year old legacy to large packaged application suites to leading edge SaaS. The cost of maintaining the existing portfolio keeps rising, which limits their ability to fund new investments to support new ideas. And they are under enormous pressure from their business peers who don’t understand why the applications can’t evolve as fast as business needs dictate.
Working with a number of peers across Gartner, we set out to identify the underlying issues behind these common problems and develop an alternative approach that could break this cycle for clients. We recognized that one of the underlying issues for clients is that they have taken a “one size fits all” approach to managing their applications. It didn’t matter whether the app was your core ERP system or a trade funds management application – they were applying the same investment strategy and governance approaches. They were also looking at consolidating more and more functionality into integrated suites –without really understanding what that meant from an agility standpoint.
We developed our Pace Layered Application Strategy framework to help clients think a little differently about their application portfolios. The premise is relatively simple – that a one size fits all approach does not work and that you need to look at applications in the context of the business value they provide for the organization and how their rate of change differs as a result. Do the applications support standard, foundational business processes (Systems of Record), non-standard differentiating processes (Systems of Differentiation) or new, experimental processes (Systems of Innovation). The applications in each of those categories have different requirements and rates of change, and the pace layer model prescribes unique governance approaches to each to allow for maximum flexibility.
The response to this research has been extremely positive, and we have been working over the last 12 months to develop a deep body of knowledge on the concept, how to get started, and how to evolve the strategy over time. I am really excited about the launch of a special report on Pace Layered Application Strategy http://www.gartner.com/technology/research/pace-layered-application-strategy/. This landing page is an excellent resource for those looking for more details on how to adopt pace layers. Please feel free to reach out and ask questions or to suggest additional research on pace layers.
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