The Need for IT Pruning
To find out more about an IT Pruning engagement, please email Dan Woods, CTO and Editor of CITO Research (dwoods@CITOResearch.com). For more about IT pruning see: Why Aren't You Pruning Your IT and CITO Research Mission: Creating a Playbook for IT Pruning
IT Pruning is the simple idea that systems should be decomissioned when their useful life is over or when the cost of supporting them exceeds the business benefit they provide.
IT departments are constrained on time and available skill sets. The critical focus on implementing new solutions means there’s no time to determine what could and should be pruned. The task of pruning is made more difficult by the following factors:
- Users resist change and do not adopt new solutions, hindering decommissioning of older systems
- Companies hold onto older technology because of the desire to make good on earlier investments
- Little data is available about usage of older systems and the technical and process dependencies between solutions
An independent perspective sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders can help identify systems that could be pruned to help IT free up resources spent on maintaining older technology that no longer serves the business.
To successfully remove an existing system, prerequisites need to be in place at a much higher, strategic level. Some examples:
- Validate security, privacy and compliance rules
- Establish measurements for usage of existing solutions and dependencies
- Verify original TCO/ROI assumptions in case write-offs must be taken
IT Pruning is the first step toward a program of continuous improvement for IT management practices.
By becoming good at pruning, an IT department becomes leaner, focused on technology that provides competitive benefit and can achieve better strategic positioning of IT with the business.
Summary and Benefits of IT Pruning Consulting from CITO Research
IT Pruning decreases technical debt in an organization by assembling the data needed to make difficult decisions about retiring systems that offer little or no value. Often, there is a strong intuitive impression that certain systems should be pruned. In order to overcome the barriers mentioned above, a model of value must be created and backed up with data. Once a consistent model of value is applied to the systems under management by IT, often other opportunities for pruning are discovered.
The financial advantages of pruning are compelling. They include:
- Savings in hardware costs.
- Savings in software licenses and support costs.
- Savings in operations and administrative costs.
- Savings in disaster recovery costs.
Usually, after just one round of pruning, any objections that line of business departments may have are dropped, and the cause of pruning becomes popular as a means to free up resources to support new initiatives.
How it Works
CITO Research approaches IT Pruning using the same assumptions and method set forth in the general description of its consulting offer. A Findings document is used to capture internal knowledge. A Recommendations document is prepared with the help of analysts who provide additional expertise. An Execution plan is created.
The Findings and Recommendations documents are made available as sharable resources that can be consulted and updated as more is learned during execution.
In this way, true alignment is achieved, which accelerates progress.
The IT Pruning Consulting Offer has the following stages:
Initial Assessment (part of Findings document)
- The goals and scope of the project are set.
- Project management process put in place.
- Initial Assessment plan developed.
Prerequisites established, including assessment of:
- Legal requirements and business drivers.
- Business risks and security model.
- Technology infrastructure (data center, network).
- Application infrastructure (traditional, web/mobile).
- User identity management and authentication infrastructure.
- Other (B2B, Payment/eCommerce, technical compliance/PCI).
Data Gathering (part of Findings document)
- Overview of relevant IT systems and business relevance / current usage.
- Current IT planning, business benchmarking, business management reporting.
- Existing ROI analysis, backtrack analysis, technical debt analysis.
Evaluation (part of Recommendations document)
- Interviews performed with users and IT staff.
- Create “Pruning candidates” initial list / top 10 for evaluation.
- Business Value and Future Proof assessment.
- Interviews with business about business value and business criticality.
- Independent ROI analysis and vendor lock-in / future proof reporting.
- Experts in various IT domains maybe consulted if needed.
- Suggestions on how to move forward (abandon, reduce, continue) and lifespan.
- The suggested roadmap is then vetted with the IT staff and end-users.
The result of the evaluation stage is a “Pruning Opportunities” analysis, included in the Findings document, that suggests all the ways that the IT portfolio could be pruned.
Recommendations (part of Recommendations document)
- Based on the assessment, a “Pruning Roadmap and Plan” is presented.
- The plan outlines the high level steps the company has to take.
Execution (Execution Plan document)
- The Pruning Plan is carried out.
- CITO provides consulting services as needed.
To find out more about an IT Pruning engagement please send an email to Dan Woods, CTO and Editor of CITO Research (dwoods@CITOResearch.com).