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Whittle down application sprawl

Sandra Gittlen | March 7, 2014
When it comes to shutting down out-of-date, risky or unnecessary applications, James Gordon, vice president of technology and operations at Needham Bank, doesn't mess around.

Do you have a replacement for the application? It's fine to determine that an application puts data at risk or is out of date, but make sure there is a viable alternative in place before deleting it.

Is the new application too good to be true? While the new application might have more bells and whistles than its predecessor, what underlying infrastructure is necessary? Will you have to purchase high-speed storage or more powerful servers to achieve maximum performance? Consider all requirements of the new application before ditching your old one.

Do users like the new application? Don't fall prey to the hype of a new application without testing it on your user base. If they don't like it, you'll wind up wasting time and money, and potentially have to reinstall the old program

— Sandra Gittlen

"We have people who are old-school about project management. But we demonstrated that what they were doing was archaic and that there were new and better ways to achieve the same result," he says.

The one thing that always gets people's attention is the anytime, anywhere access that cloud-based applications provide. "We tell them, 'We can't support your old application on the iPhone, iPad or your home computer,' and then they are willing to listen," McBride says.

With most users onboard and all 30 enterprise applications in the cloud, McBride has found a different obstacle to contend with: vendors.

For instance, his users agreed to swap out enterprise-based videoconferencing for a cloud-based offering, but McBride has found his provider falling short of expectations. For one thing, McBride explains, it's difficult to provision new accounts, especially if an end-user makes a mistake in the initial sign-up process. Also, the video doesn't work well with low bandwidth.

"We tested nine or 10 different options before selecting one, but now we have to evaluate all the vendors again. It's a perpetual process," he says.

Before switching users over to a new application, McBride asks vendors to show him their next release or a viable product roadmap. "If they can't do that, we won't sign on with them," he says. He also solicits input from business leaders about which apps would work best. One department wanted to use Tableau to chart commercial analytics. McBride's team tested it, bought seats and then added it to the backup schedule, something that wouldn't happen if the department operated the application outside of IT.

McBride encourages users to explore new apps that can help them do their jobs better and is ready to kill off even SaaS apps that are unpopular, unproductive or require too much support. "I'm not worried about secure data being exposed by users trying out SaaS programs. He considers 2% of corporate data to be extremely confidential IP; it requires multiple points of authentication to access and is audited for access during the process.


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