After years of being frustrated with my inability to turn off duplicate and legacy systems, I have developed three practices I use to minimize the temptation to keep them alive. These are:
• When developing the project plan for a new application, I also plan the decommissioning of the application we are replacing. For this planning, I develop a checklist that defines how, at each phase of the implementation, I will phase out the legacy application.
• I reduce costs by eliminating duplicate systems. If we are using multiple applications that perform similar or nearly similar tasks, I determine the fully burdened costs to support each system and then ask the business to select which one it wants to keep. The business then manages the transition to a single platform.
• I regularly report on what is in our application portfolio. When people see a diagram of what applications we are supporting and what tasks those applications are performing, they start to ask why we have two order management applications, why we have five reporting and analysis tools, and why we can’t just use one intranet application. Each time we add or delete an application, I update the diagram and send it out to my business customers. That one thing does wonders; especially when the CEO is on my distribution list.
The most important lesson I have learned about application consolidation is to plan for it. I budget for it. I put it on my list of opportunities. I communicate the options and benefits. Ultimately, the business decides what to consolidate. I just want to help them with that decision.
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