Digital Transformation Obstacles and Lessons Learned from Gartner Research

On Tuesday, April 28th, at 11am EDT we will host a live webinar with Gartner on one of today’s hottest topics- Digital Transformation.
Digital Transformation has been disrupting industries for some time and, while some companies have successfully managed digital transformations other have not. This event will explore the barriers to digital transformation many organizations are facing due to poor application management practices. Topics covered will include: excessive complexity, the challenges IT leaders face in improving application health and what you can do to reverse the situation. Also to be discussed during the webinar are the warning signs of potential failure for a digital transformation and how leaders and their companies should prepare for digital transformations in their organization to increase the chances of success.

Automated Function Points Provide Data-Driven Captives Management

Last month in this space I wrote about the importance of optimizing the cost-effectiveness of Captives (i.e., Global In-House Centers) by setting metrics and enhancing process transparency for better management of them. For these management methods to work, though, an organization needs to employ automated function points as a way to way to gain insight about current costs and supplied value, which can then be used to enhance received output from current or future providers.
CAST’s Lev Lesokhin underscored the importance of third-party vendor management in a recent commentary on this topic in InformationWeek’s Wall Street & Technology. In his article, he says:
At the end of the day, Wall Street CIOs cannot blame development teams or third-party vendors for their lack of insight into their application portfolios…The only way to reduce IT costs and validate outsourced work is to proactively monitor application quality standards for security, performance, and reliability before acceptance and implementation.
Proactively monitoring outsourced application development, such as that done by Captives, requires a set of metrics that can effectively track the vendor’s deliverables and measure their value along four primary objectives:

Improvement – determine the high-leverage targets and track progress
Estimation – identify sources of variation in effort and cost that predict outcomes
Benchmarking – assess status against competitors and internal baselines
Vendor management – establish a fact- and performance-based relationship

But these objectives cannot be measured subjectively. For analysis of the productivity of software development and maintenance to have any true value, it must be measured quantitatively using normalized units of production and effort – such as function points.
Function points make it possible to analyze business functions as an individual unit within an application regardless of utilized languages, development methods or the type of hardware platform. The required amount of effort for delivering individual or sets of business functions is the only variable.
Sounds great,  but as Lesokhin points out in his InformationWeek commentary, “Some IT organizations have flirted with manual function point analysis to help track the amount of ADM production over time, but it is a tedious and time-consuming process that sometimes produces a biased, and therefore untrustworthy, end result.”
In other words, “what’s the point?”
Fortunately, there are organizations that have harnessed the rules for automated function point analysis adopted by the Object Management Group (OMG), the acceptance of which was driven by CISQ. With the standards set forth by OMG for automated function point counting solutions, like CAST Application Intelligence Platform, the industry has seen increased use of functional sizing at the application and portfolio level. This in turn will lead to more effective and efficient management of IT portfolios, improved vendor management, better valuation of software assets, improved ADM performance management and a reduced ADM costs.
By using automated function points, an organization is able to step away from analyzing individual lines of code and toward a more unified approach that is capable of providing accurate measurements for each individual application. Each unit of measurement is a business function the application will perform to meet specific user needs or fulfill business requirements. Furthermore, categorization allows every business function to be properly analyzed for a meaningful score, which can then be used to further evaluate productivity, quality, and several other factors within a complex, multi-tiered relationship with Captive developers.
With the data provided through automated function points, organizations have what they need to control IT costs, maintain ADM service excellence and mitigate IT risks when working with Captives, all of which leads to benefits such as improved time to market, minimized business disruption, decreased risk and enhanced compliance…all very necessary in the drive to succeed in today’s business environment.

Digital Transformation Keeps Software Complexity from Becoming a CIO’s Legacy

They say “if something works, don’t fix it.” This old adage may be the reason behind why some organizations hold onto legacy systems longer than they should, but it is also the reason why these same organizations struggle with software complexity. In fact, according to the GAO, Uncle Sam spends 80 percent of its $86.4 billion IT budget on legacy systems.
Some organizations choose not to struggle, though. Take for example the story of Pennsylvania-based underwriter NSM Insurance Group. It was reported recently on that NSM last year purchased a company that still had a COBOL-based back-office system from the 1990’s.

SAP Stability and Performance Webinar Questions Answered

Last Wednesday we hosted a webinar featuring Steve Naylor of Solvay.
During the webinar, Mr. Naylor illustrated how gaining visibility into critical SAP systems has helped maintain uninterrupted services and reduced development costs.
Mr. Naylor also shared how software analysis and measurement:

Provides insight into legacy ABAP systems
Identifies security issues not detected by native SAP code analysis tools
Reveals hidden software complexity that can cause performance and stability issues

VIDEO: IT Expert Calls Upon Automated Function Points for Vendor Management

Barbara Beech, an expert in the field of IT development for telecommunications companies, recently spoke to CAST in a video chat about her experience using software analysis and measurement as well as automated function points to gain visibility into IT vendor deliverables.
As a solution to gaining visibility into IT vendor deliverables, Beech points to the CAST Automated Function Points (AFP) capability – an automatic function points counting method that is based on rules defined by the International Function Point User Group (IFPUG). CAST automates the manual counting process by using the structural information retrieved by source code analysis, database structure and transactions.
Formerly a senior IT Business Manager for AT&T, Beech now works with companies to manage external application development contracts, establish service levels and methodology with external vendors and benchmark their experiences with external suppliers.
Measuring IT Vendor’s Software Quality in Telecommunications Industry
To learn more about Automated Function Points click here:
The video conversation with Beech is also available on CAST’s YouTube channel at:

IT RISK MANAGEMENT: A Conversation with BCG’s Benjamin Rehberg

Benjamin Rehberg, Partner and Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group and former consultant for IBM Global Business Services, discusses the importance of both IT risk management and application portfolio management (APM) in a video conversation with CAST. He looks at the challenges for IT leaders, the need for software measurement and discusses how IT transformation can improve business operations.
During the brief discussion, Rehberg provides answers to the following questions:

How big a challenge do you see transformation for IT leaders today?
How does software measurement affect transformation?
What are some examples of transformation projects that you’ve seen?
How would BCG characterize where we are with measurement and analytics in IT?
Why should software leaders care about software measurement?
How can metrics improve IT’s dialog with businesses?

BCG’s Benjamin Rehberg on IT Risk Management
The video is also available on CAST’s YouTube channel:

Upcoming Webinar: Is Application Stability and Performance Slowing Your Development Down?

If you want to prevent performance and stability issues plaguing your SAP deployments and other custom applications join this 45 minute discussion, as Solvay, a global manufacturer, shares how software analysis provides insight into legacy systems, identifies unknown security issues, and reveals hidden complexity.
We all know that excessive complexity, lack of visibility and fast-paced business
demands don’t mix well. With offshore software factories in different locations and applications that support over 12,000 users, Software Development Manager Steve Naylor knows that visibility is critical to maintaining uninterrupted services while reducing development costs. In this webinar, he will discuss how objective assessment and access to development and architectural standards has transformed development efforts – enabling Solvay to keep pace with business demands, reduce cost and risk.
Register here for the April 1st webinar on application stability and performance.