Don’t make these 5 crucial mistakes that could stall your BaU application management process!

Last week, we published an interactive assessment called “Can We Guess Your Risk Level For Adopting Business-as-Usual?” from an application management perspective. Basically, we asked 12 questions and you pick the answer that best fits. At the end, we can predict how risky it will be to adopt this new IT management approach given your current application estate and management process, and we map out what it would take to take it to the next level. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend that you give it a go!

Don't make these 5 crucial mistakes that could stall your BaU application management process!

Today, I want to do the opposite: I want to take a closer look at the five most common mistakes that could prevent you from successfully managing your app estate in an evergreen state.

1) You Do Not Proactively Manage Your App Estate

Let me explain this first problem with an analogy. I have three children and for the past several years, they have asked for LEGO® toys for every birthday and holiday. So, needless to say, we have a lot of them and have spent entire days building intricate buildings, castles, and entire cityscapes. The more you have, the more organized you have to be — otherwise you won’t find the pieces you are looking for and you’ll end up building less fun things because everything is a big, old mess or, in the worst case, your wife will get so sick of stepping on them (Ouch!) that you will need to pack them away entirely.

Now, imagine your app estate being like LEGOs. Not managing your apps proactively will lead to an overgrown, unmanaged estate causing application sprawl, which comes with overpayments in licenses, a higher number of support tickets, increased maintenance costs and much more.

To prevent this from happening and prepare for change, you will need to implement an end-to-end application management solution, tightly manage your application portfolio (meaning you should consolidate, normalize and rationalize your applications on an ongoing basis), and track your individual app usage.

2) You Don’t Get Onboard With The Faster Upgrade Release Schedule Of Windows 10 and Office 365 

Since Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will receive regular updates based on an “as-a-Service” model, IT pros have been trying to wrap their heads around the Windows 10 Branching timelines and options. But now that the model has been in place for well over two years and Microsoft has aligned its upgrade schedule with that of its Office 365 and SCCM releases, efficient deployment strategies are taking shape.

By jumping on the Windows 10 and Office 365 bandwagons and adopting this faster velocity of change as the speed of the stream you are swimming in, so to speak, you set yourself up for success as this forces you to implement the right change management tooling and to develop a rhythm that will help you carry out your Business-as-Usual testing much more easily.

3) You Don’t Have An Agile Application Packaging & Testing Strategy

Let’s say you are going to roll out the upcoming Windows 10 Fall Creator’s Update across your entire enterprise. How would you decide today which applications you will have to test beforehand, which you will test “in-flight”, and which you won’t test at all?

Do you test all applications but only for major upgrades? Do you only test high-risk applications for minor environment changes due to the lack of resources and time restraints? Or do you test all applications at all times because you don’t want to risk major business disruption?

The answer heavily depends on your organization’s approach to app packaging and testing. For example, some enterprises will leave that decision with each individual product owner — and while this might be a good idea in theory, this means in reality that there won’t be much testing, as there is no centralized oversight. Others might try to look at the feature list of the update and try to figure out which applications might be impacted and make a case-by-case decision. However, that is very time consuming and not sustainable in a BAU environment.

The best way to avoid these inefficiencies and subsequent bottlenecks is to risk-rate and categorize your applications and test all applications  — even for minor environment changes before an upgrade. Your risk ratings and categorization data should be stored, managed and maintained centrally in a Change Management Database (CMDB) and reviewed for accuracy on a regular basis. 

4) You Don’t Test Your Apps Enough

There are so many ways to test your applications for compatibility issues. For example:

  • Functional Testing (e.g., product owner tests that product works as expected)
  • Non-Functional Testing (e.g., engineering/development tests if app installs, launches and generally works)
  • Performance Testing (e.g., How much CPU does the app need to load/run?)
  • Interrogate the code even before the app gets loaded
  • Compare it against readily available telemetry data (e.g., Microsoft’s Upgrade Readiness tool)

Because resources are scarce, time is short, and this testing will have to be done on a fairly regular basis (e.g., on a monthly basis for high-risk, money-making business apps like Bloomberg), most enterprise IT teams are looking for a shortcut to minimize the risks involved without stalling the entire organization with testing for weeks.

In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. The damage and business disruption caused by an app not working under a new version on Windows 10 because it hasn’t been tested properly is much greater than the additional resources and cost spent on necessary testing.

But how much should you ideally test? At a minimum, we recommend that you consider testing your apps from a nonfunctional, functional and performance aspect for Windows 10 compatibility as well as test for Microsoft application virtualization suitability to determine application compatibility. To accomplish this, you will need a variety of testing tools, such as workflow-based automation testing (e.g., Access CAPTURE), in-house developed app testing mechanisms, and software catalogs (e.g., BDNA’s Technopedia).

5) You Don’t Automate Your Testing & Packaging

As we discussed in the point above, you probably should do more testing than you are already doing. But it is not only more from a quality perspective but also in terms of quantity as now you will need to run tests for Windows 10, Office 365 and SCCM upgrades at least twice a year and for other apps even more frequently.

But now you are wondering how to get it all done. Most enterprises won’t see a budget increase in the next 12 months (again!) or will have a hiring freeze, so how can you do all this extra testing? The answer is automation.

By implementing a state-of-the-art workflow and automation tools, such as Access Capture, you can not only cut down your packaging and testing workload by about 60% right out of the box as you can run a quick certification test to verify compatibility but the rest of the to-be-tested and re-packaged apps will be routed by an intelligent workflow that will not only minimize the amount of work involved but also allows non-technical product owners to test and package their own apps.

While traditionally app testing was a resource-hungry process — only think of setting up testing machines — Capture will spin up a pool of virtual machines within seconds and invite the appropriate tester as part of the workflow.

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