Auditing your R&D applications? Before you decide what to keep or what to kill, you need to consider overall business objectives first

Often our first point of entry with a scientific research organization is when we are asked to come in and do an application audit

The reason for action is often about reducing risk of obsolescence, maintaining business continuity and an element of continuous improvement. We typically provide an assessment of the portfolio, provide specialist application support, and look into the risks and costs of ownership and try to get an agreed list of desirable and justified improvements. An audit will involve many things, such as documenting problems faced by users and analyzing the cost of licenses. It’s an excellent way of generating a clear understanding of how the systems are used and interact with each other, as well as the factors driving ownership cost. An audit also provides a clear case for action. For example, it can help identify cost savings from license rationalization, or pinpoint performance bottlenecks that have been causing users problems.

But it’s important to stress that an audit can also only take you so far – especially if you’re thinking about killing applications.

Keep or kill?

Quite often due to broader business goals we’re asked to do something quite different to an audit – and that’s offer our opinion on whether an application (or applications) should be killed altogether.

This decision shouldn’t be taken too hastily without careful consideration.

So what’s the best way forward when you’re under pressure to consolidate and reduce the number of applications?

Uncover key metrics and true value

What we recommend is a proper analysis of what your IT function as a whole is trying to achieve, what it contributes to the business, and thus what your true metrics and criteria for assessing the value of applications really are. Metrics important to R&D such as speed to IP or to market, or the success rate of the R&D projects from inception to product launch, can be very unfamiliar to other IT stakeholders who are used to thinking about cost reduction rather than value optimization. So half the battle is to help get the user management talking the same language about what benefits actually mean.

R&D IT Program Optimization will help you take a deep look at your existing corporate service suppliers and enterprise outsourcing policy to develop a roadmap for the modernization of the application landscape. In turn this gives you the right context to understand how you can maximize a return on the R&D application portfolio, address critical business requirements and risks, and also how well your application strategy aligns with future and long term business needs.

This is the real benchmark – rather than just cost or technical considerations – that should be used to decide which applications to keep and which to kill.

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Andrew Chadwick

Andrew Chadwick

Andrew Chadwick is principal consultant in life sciences and healthcare at Tessella. He has ...

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