While checking out the new Knowledge Vaults on the Enterprise CIO Forum, I came across the Genefa Murphy blog post How IT Debt is Crippling the Enterprise, which included three recommendations for alleviating some of that crippling IT debt.
The first recommendation was application retirement. As I have previously blogged, applications become retirement-resistant because applications and data have historically been so tightly coupled, making most of what are referred to as data silos actually application silos. Therefore, in order to help de-cripple IT debt, organizations need to de-couple applications and data, not only by allowing more data to float up into the cloud, but also, as Murphy noted, instituting better procedures for data archival, which helps more easily identify applications for retirement that have become merely containers for unused data.
The second recommendation was cutting the IT backlog. “One of the main reasons for IT debt,” Murphy explained, “is the fact that the enterprise is always trying to keep up with the latest and greatest trends, technologies and changes.” I have previously blogged about this as The Diderot Effect of New Technology. By better identifying how up-to-date the IT backlog is, and how well — if at all — it still reflects current business needs, an organization can skip needless upgrades and enhancement requests, and not only eliminate some of the IT debt, but also better prioritize efforts so that IT functions as a business enabler.
The third recommendation was performing more architectural reviews, which, Murphy explained, “is less about getting rid of old debt and more about making sure new debt does not accumulate. Since IT teams don’t often have the time to do this (as they are concerned with getting a working solution to the customer ASAP), it is a good idea to have this as a parallel effort led by a technology or architectural review group outside of the project teams but still closely linked.”
Although it’s impossible to completely balance the IT budget, and IT debt doesn’t cause an overall budget deficit, reducing costs associated with business-enabling technology does increase the potential for a surplus of financial success for the enterprise.