An introduction to Application Portfolio Management (APM) in ServiceNow
Sankhadeep Dhar
ServiceNow ITBM expert & Power BI / Tableau designer

An introduction to Application Portfolio Management (APM) in ServiceNow

29-06-2020

The first of a series of ServiceNow APM articles. This one introduces the concept of Application Portfolio Management and its simplest form.

Let's set the stage for APM.


Any organisation, irrespective of its size, market and industry, has to maintain a myriad of applications deployed by IT to cater to business needs and to support and drive capabilities of a business. Think of the number of such applications that you use in your day to day job - email, chat, video conferencing, applications to manage your portfolio budget, sales, finances......and the list goes on.

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IT is continuously challenged to provide a superior services to the business and to elevate itself from being a support function to being a business driver. Think of this as IT rediscovers itself from providing email services to being the next Amazon or Uber.

With these challenges in mind, IT leadership is forced to clean up its laundry - manage IT portfolio more efficiently to reduce operating costs and invest in the next emerging technology to emerge as the business driver. One effective way is to start keeping stock of everything that IT manages and use that to drive insights and consolidation decisions. This is the essence of Application Portfolio Management.

Application Portfolio Management is aframework to manage business applications.
It provides IT leadership with an inventory of company's business applications and metrics
to score the value and benefit of each of these applications.

Having established this, let's look at APM in action in its most simplest form which is the main topic of this article.

 

The IT landscape story of APM.

 

The first step to get started with APM is to create an inventory list of all applications that IT manages to support and drive business. The overall process can be broadly broken down to:

Create an inventory of business applications. ServiceNow recommends to maintain a number of attributes related to this. For example:
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Use IT landscape to generate insights. Let's take a look into some of the insights that this comprehensive list of business applications can provide. The below insights are drawn from the Application Landscape dashboard.

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This one in particular tells me that a significant number of my applications are installed On Premise. And this immediately triggers that we need more effort to support our Move to Cloud strategy.

As an IT leader, I will go ahead and create a Program to drive this effort! You could also think this as a light weight Application Rationalisation process.


Let's look at the 2nd one related to Technology Debt insights. We notice that there are 2 applications each from IT Portfolio Management and Inventory Management which are 3+ versions behind. This can potentially trigger questions like : Does this cause any vulnerability risk? Does this cost us more to keep getting extended support for older versions? Does this limit us in providing superior user experience?

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How about providing insights around Vendor dependency? Can the Vendor Management Team use this insight to better negotiate contracts? When the data is accurate and current, it is easy to drive such discussions.

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Create a process and governance to maintain the landscape data. The landscape data is usable and trustworthy as long as it is current and updated properly. This calls for action to identify owners of the application and make them responsible for data maintenance. In most of the cases, this responsibility can be shared between an IT owner and a Business Owner. ServiceNow also support Data Certification schedules so that the data update tasks are periodically assigned and maintained. Also consider to create process definition on how to create/update a business application (a possible trigger from a project) and retire an application (risk assessment, approval etc).

This article highlights the "low hanging fruits" of an APM implementation in its simplest form. I will be covering some advanced topics of APM in the coming days, so come back for more details. Feel free to comment and share the article.