A technique we’ve used for years to focus our efforts is using the consultant’s favorite tool – a quadrant chart. Each application is assessed using a few dimensions. Two of the most prominent ones are looking at the application’s technical quality and its impact on business value.
Measuring technical quality can be tough. A mixture of qualitative and quantitative measure of the architectural alignment to the future direction (in this case the cloud could be one way) should be possible. Is it service oriented? Can it run on a cloud environment? Is it multi-threaded? What’s the on-going bug count like?
Measuring the business value has its own set of issues. You need to be able to consistently measure the application’s positive impact on revenue or its reduction to risks and expenses for the organization. This is one of the areas the Green IT crowd seems to overlook with their focus on hardware.
The on-going maintenance costs take away from the business value too -- if it’s inflexible or requires a high cost support environment those are real costs. Some people view that maintenance cost as a measure of technical quality. It could be, but it also takes away from the business value.
Now there are numerous books, articles and approaches to tackling the problem, so at least you don’t need to start with a blank sheet of paper. Looking at the applications portfolio is a foundational element to any IT transformation, since the applications are what facilitate the generation of business value. HP is definitely placing focus with helping organizations assess their applications as well.