The proliferation of Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) in recent years has come with many benefits. From more rapid deployment (relative to traditional technologies), the resulting productivity increases, and costs savings to IT, we can see why they are such a success across enterprises. With a 74% increase in the past 4 years, the proof as they say, is in the pudding. We see this on a daily basis with our clients using platforms such as Quickbase and Microsoft SharePoint. Although IT is saving much needed time not maintaining expensive hardware, this march to the cloud has caused new headaches. What we typically see today are smaller business process applications geared toward a single department or user group, as opposed to a more traditional enterprise-wide deployment of a product. In many cases these applications are developed completely outside the purview of IT, a term known as Citizen Development. Low code platforms, such as Quickbase, have allowed this practice to flourish in some organizations.
- End users in the business are finally getting software tailored to their exact needs
- Applications can transform as the business does, even as rapidly
- Applications for one group can potentially be leveraged to other groups with similar needs
- It can be very difficult for IT to have visibility of what is deployed
- Licensing, billing, and renewals may be managed by dozens of individual teams vs. managed centrally
- Governance of changes and alignment with companywide initiatives can be very difficult to manage
We have realized while these technologies can be exceptionally beneficial to an organization, the management of them can be just as crucial. A balance between traditional IT governance and agility is also key. If not managed and governed correctly, the cons could certainly outweigh the pros. As a result, MCFTech has developed a creative solution to this problem. An application that can be used to holistically manage all user facing applications across an organization: We call it Application Management Program (AMP).
High Level Features
- A catalog of all applications deployed across the organization
- Release management for future enhancements and bug fixes
- Feature documentation for all applications “a living functional spec”
- User provisioning management
- Ability to see dependencies between applications, data, and integration points
We have seen many benefits when deploying AMP in an organization, including:
Keeping a catalog of all applications can give IT visibility of what’s deployed and who owns them both organizationally and financially. This visibility can give IT managers better information when making budgeting decisions. Also, if a group with similar needs in another part of the organization makes an application request, IT can better decide if an existing application can be leveraged for cost savings.
Release management allows users to have a voice by logging bug or enhancement cases against the application. When time and budget allow, these cases can be slotted into a release and the cases are the basis by which the development team interacts with the end users. Once acceptance is made on all cases, the release is complete. At any time in the future, someone can look back and see which enhancements were made or which bugs were fixed as part of an application release. Being able to see the entire evolution of an application is crucial for ongoing support and maintenance. Also the frequency of enhancement and bug requests can help to prioritize capacity and budget.
A catalog of features can be kept along with the applications. We call this a ‘living functional spec’ because it can be easily refined as the application changes over time. This allows IT to understand what each application actually does, and can be beneficial when making the decision of new software vs. leveraging existing.
User provisioning can be a challenge and we typically see that organizations wish to do this centrally for increased security and to minimize risk. AMP allows for provisioning requests to be centrally made, approved, and documented. At any time a user with access to AMP can see who has access to which application, and what type of permissions they have. Audits for compliance and internal governance just got a lot easier.
Who should use AMP?
While we have had success with AMP in larger enterprises, we see it as beneficial for an organization of any size, using more than 3-5 applications. For the large enterprises it’s more obvious – applications are deployed everywhere, 1,000s of users with access, and dozens of contracts to manage. However, smaller organizations can use AMP from the ground floor and the catalog will grow as the organization does. By hitting the ground running with best practices around release management, user feedback, and user provisioning, smaller IT groups can scale with much less stress. MCFTech not only has the expertise to deliver AMP, but also expertise in system and process mapping across an organization.
To learn more about application management, compliance, and governance, join us for a FREE Live Webinar on October 13 at 12 p.m. EST to learn all the tips, tricks, and tools from our Quickbase experts!