Key Discussion Points from Forrester Webinar: Agile Portfolio Management Requires Rapid Transparency

Application portfolio analysis was at the center of discussion as Forrester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst, Margo Visitacion, presented how Agile development is affecting the application development process and IT’s portfolio planning. Ms. Visitacion explained that in the “Age of the customer,” they want more for less and expect companies to fluidly change based on their needs and demands. As companies shift their attention to customers’ experiences rather than production figures, it’s leading directly to higher revenue and a longer-lasting relationships.

So how do organizations remain agile to customer needs? They employ an Agile portfolio management process that collects metrics while aligning with the budgeting process; understanding that requirements will change. Using this strategy, companies gain clear visibility into their portfolio to measure risk, cost and complexity based upon objective measurements. The data collected during development enables them to defend current positioning and communicate more effectively with the business.

Here are some recent thought provoking questions, along with supporting answers, which we received during the Forrester webinar:

What kinds of companies are implementing an Agile application portfolio management approach?  What are they doing?

The companies we see implementing this take a collaborative approach to planning. They use information and data more effectively in order to have more flexibility in the process and understand the tenants of value, capacity and time to realize.

These organizations review their portfolios on a quarterly or monthly basis, and use tools to automate that process. They can quickly identify any issues by objectively measuring risk, cost and complexity within their portfolio to better re-assign resources based on their analysis.

Can we apply Agile in change management?

Yes you can. Agility in change management is critical to the process. If you focus on a specific problem, you can state the objective and measure progress. You have full accountability on the outcome, not just the process.

Traditional Application portfolio management can be slow – what can organizations do to make the collection of information more rapid?

The traditional application portfolio management process can be very time-consuming. In addition, most of the data collected is through subjective surveys. Organizations need to quickly collect objective information about the risk, cost and complexity of their application portfolio in order to connect the portfolio management process to the budgeting process.

The choice to move to Agile was in some cases motivated to better serve the customer. DevOps and App Performance Monitoring are also customer focused as they seek to reduce operational disruptions. What do you think is missing? What have we over looked?

Adoption is still occurring. It’s not that the IT organization is totally insulated – they’ve always had customers in mind. It’s about seeing data that’s relevant and understanding that all parts of the organization are responsible for increasing customer experience and revenue. The level of transparency is higher than we’ve ever seen it. Customers expect more visibility and reaction to issues more quickly.

How do we bring legacy applications to the same speed as that of digital applications?

Access to data and the increased expectations of customers and partners puts a stress on legacy applications. It’s critical to identify these legacy applications within the portfolio, and understand the overall risk and complexity of those legacy applications so you can choose the best modernization path.  Get the right people in the room and identify the objectives. That gives the right direction in order to begin a legacy transformation.

Is it a good practice to still define “projects” with an Agile portfolio approach? What’s the alternative?

In the Agile software development world, organizations look at things in terms of products. So while many companies still define projects, the more progressive companies are closely tying the project with the product to create ownership throughout the development and maintenance process.

What is meant by minimizing human capital in the customer-centric application rationalization?

The slide was focused on a human capital management application. The point is, why incur cost of resources on off-the-shelf packages when you can invest those resources in applications that provide a competitive differentiators for the company.

Please explain M.O.O.S.E.

M.O.O.S.E. is a term invented by Forrester Research for talking about the non-discretionary expenses that are required to keep an IT department running. M.O.O.S.E. stands for maintain and operate the organization, systems and equipment.

Many organizations suffer from having many different processes in different locations or departments for doing the same thing. How does Agile force the rationalization of the business process before starting application development?

Companies need to rethink the way that they have resources working on projects. The old way is the pooled resource approach. By taking a product approach, we organize by capability – working efficiently, but at the same time seeing the integrations between capability teams.

How do you solve the budget issue with an Agile approach (need to stabilize outcome versus uncertainty)?

It’s definitely a culture change management process – usually when companies get hit with a catalyst or business event that forces the change. This implements a new way of planning and thinking, and allows for budgets to be more nimble as projects mature. Now projects can be funded incrementally, fully knowing the outcome is not predetermined. This can be a scary, but a necessary culture shift if the budget process is going to fully support the Agile development process.

To access the recording of this webinar, click here.

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