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Making Application Readiness Visible

By: Steve Schmidt

The process of assessing and preparing applications for use in a corporate environment can be mysterious. What makes an app ready for use…who gets an app ready for use… how do you determine which app to prepare and if it is ready for use, or when it will be ready? The answers to these questions are too often unclear and/or inconsistent, leading to confusion in the organization and slowing productivity. Increasing visibility into the application readiness process is a key dimension on which the process can evolve and positively affect multiple players in the organization:

  • System administrator – Those who manage the application estate in the organization benefit from a clearly defined and accessible workflow process, including the steps to take for each new or upgraded application that enters the organization. The movement of apps through the stages of the process can be continuously captured and progress snapshots made available. Including data about who did the work and when, provides a valuable historical account, enhancing support for the application downstream and creating a knowledge base that will streamline preparation of further applications or versions. In addition, creating a definitive library of the apps and associated data helps avoid deployment of alternate versions and minimize duplicate packaging efforts.
  • User of app – Those who “consume” the application usually want to see which applications are available to them and what the cost of the application will be to their department—and they want to be able to do so on-demand. This type of information can be made available in an enterprise app store, accessible through a web interface. Additionally, it’s useful to have a simple and consistent way to request additional apps that do not yet appear on the list, and a process to periodically receive updates on that type of request.
  • Business line manager – If an app has been requested, the approver will want to know if it has been technically approved, who has made the request, and what the budgetary impact will be for them. Having the requests appear in a common and frequently accessed format, e.g., email, will expedite the process. Maintaining a historical log of requests and approvals will allow for rapid resolution of any bottlenecks or discrepancies in understanding.
  • Compliance manager – The organization needs to confirm that licenses exist for the apps that are in use. This requires a view into which apps are actually being used on which machines, what entitlements exist, and the best way to apply the entitlements within the environment. As each new request for an application is made, it’s important that the entitlement data be available for reference. Additionally, if applications enter the organization via non-traditional means, they need to be discovered and tracked like the other apps.
  • Finance/procurement manager – Knowing that the right applications (and versions) have been and will be procured in the correct quantity is also important. Awareness of the trend of aggregate use of the applications allows for proactive and accurate budgeting plans. Procurement can then stay current with demand, avoiding shortages and last minute scrambles to meet the next request.

With a number of different people involved in the application readiness process, a few general considerations are:

  1. The process should be viewed holistically, and shared with everyone involved, or steps are likely to be missed or sub-optimized.
  2. The transition steps between players should be explicit, or important information will be lost or misunderstood.
  3. The data created by one group and accepted by another should be standardized. While each player may need their own views or reports, these can be produced by a common underlying data set.

What would make your application readiness process more transparent?

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