Rakesh Kumar Dubey
1. Business Background
New technologies and changing business environments have always prompted global manufacturers to think about improving manufacturing processes, business systems and goals. Advancements in machines and tools have resulted in faster and higher production level and also shorter production cycles. Manufacturing companies have been trying to adopt concurrent and collaborative engineering, collaborative manufacturing, global localized manufacturing, design for manufacturing and assembly, lean manufacturing methodologies and technologies. Over the years, discrete manufacturing companies have developed complex IT applications portfolio. This is largely due to the diverse and evolving nature of the industry as well as the fact that most of the efforts went into new trends and technologies without really taking a stock of the current IT landscape.
Current Business Challenges:
The year began with concerns over the impact of the current economic recession, with varied signals regarding the length and depth of the cycle. Discrete manufacturing organizations are looking for ways to take cost out of IT operations and administrative business processes as some of the immediate ways of protecting important long-term technology investments.
Dynamic manufacturing business models
Manufacturing companies are practicing various manufacturing models such as make-to-stock, make-to-order, assemble-to-order, and configure-to-order products simultaneously. Each of such manufacturing models has their own set of manufacturing business processes which need to be supported by IT applications adequately. As a result, the discrete manufacturing companies end up managing similar business processes through different IT applications which increase the associated costs and in turn, the overall IT cost
Global and distributed manufacturing
The decentralized and distributed nature of manufacturing, being carried out in various low cost countries across the globe is further augmenting the challenges in managing plant specific business processes and the IT applications supporting them. Acquisitions and mergers done by manufacturing companies also result into scenarios where such companies have to manage manufacturing plants with their own specific sets of business processes and IT applications. This leads to a very complex manufacturing IT landscape where similar business processes are being supported by disparate IT applications. Managing such large number of applications result into incurring significant application maintenance costs in the form of license costs, resource costs, hardware costs, infrastructure costs etc.
Disparate Plant level IT landscape
Manufacturing companies are also characterized by complex business processes such as Plant level shop floor applications which are mostly legacy and mainframes and have no or very poor documentation, mostly in regional languages specific to low cost manufacturing countries. These applications have multiple data points which are not updated in real-time leading to duplication and confusion, which increases the production time and may lead to production loss.
With changing business scenario & changing technological environment it is imperative the manufacturing companies need to be agile by adopting a modular approach to keep pace with changing environment as far as their IT is concerned.
Application portfolio assessment is a continuous exercise as the organizations IT landscape being dynamic in nature keeps on changing and requires continuous monitoring. Thus, sustaining the information collated and maintaining it regularly to keep a current view of landscape is important for effective decision making
In the current economic scenario, companies are cutting their IT budgets and it is becoming imperative that money spent should follow a Business Aligned and Priority Based approach. So clearly, there is a need for a mechanism by which these companies are able to bring visibility in managing the business processes and associated IT assets.
2. mPrizm: The Concept
MPrizm was developed to provide the IT decision makers of the discrete manufacturing companies, a solution that provides them complete knowledge of IT applications portfolio landscape at their fingertips. The tool assess the IT applications based on their business coverage, the technical strength, process maturity and long term direction of IT organization and classify them into maintain, integrate, migrate and eliminate. It also depicts such assessment in the form of user friendly and configurable reports and dashboards.
The tool also serves as a repository enabling navigation among distributed sources of IT information. It helps such companies in identifying and analyzing relationships amongst business processes, applications, infrastructure and databases. The tool facilitates mapping of business functionality leading to easy identification of gaps and duplications.
3. mPrizm: The Solution
mPrizm is web based tool which comprises of comprehensive manufacturing domain specific questionnaires and templates in form of pre-filled knowledge bank .The tool has pre-filled knowledge bank in form of business processes, application questionnaires and templates which have been created based on our past assignments and experience with manufacturing clients. These templates can be configured online on the tool which and can be downloaded, filled offline and then can be uploaded back on the tool. These templates require little customization based on the customers needs and requirements. This saves considerable amount of time in conducting application portfolio optimization exercise. Once the questionnaires are ready, they are validated by conducting detailed interviews with the business and application owners about various aspects of applications such as business function mapping with applications, database, server and infrastructure details, dependency details and TCO details.
The next step is data analysis and representation by mPrizm in form of customizable reports and dashboards. mPrizm can generate general reports, heath check reports, cost-benefit analysis reports, dependency reports and functional mapping reports.
mPrizm assesses the IT application based on Functional Quality, Technical Quality and Management Quality. Functional quality refers to applications ability to meet both current and future business requirements. Technical Quality refers to applications technical strength such as response time, scalability etc. Management Quality refers to process maturity. The below table describes some of the sample parameters of FQ, TQ and MQ.
Similarly, using mPrizm we can configure various dashboards such as complete application landscape which depicts geo-wise spread, complexity, life cycle status, users etc.mPrizm is capable of creating numerous other dashboards and reports which can provide the client with complete as-is IT landscape.
4. Salient Features of mPrizm
1. Portfolio snapshots which describe the application landscape in detail
mPrizm provides dashboard for application managers, directors and senior management to review the performance periodically. It provides a platform to create a knowledge base on methodology used, functional needs that can be re-used for multiple initiatives while creating ERP planning, requirements creation for in-house projects, technology migrations, utilization improvements etc.
2. Business process functional maps
mPrizm provides a mechanism to capture functional needs and map these needs with applications to identify the functions duplicated in applications and helps selecting applications that must be retained and others that can either be merged or retired in order to rationalize the portfolio. This analysis is extremely useful when an organization is planning to standardize customer applications or adopt a package or an Enterprise Solution
3. FQ, TQ and MQ based dashboards
mPrizm performs multi-dimensional analysis assessment of applications FQ, TQ, MQ and TCO carried out, which helps in identifying suitable applications for Retaining (Healthy), Retiring/Replacing and Remediation (Functional Enhancement/Technical Re-engineering).
Applications falling in quadrant I are healthy applications and should be retained
Applications falling in quadrants II & III are candidates for Functional enhancement and Re-engineering respectively
Applications falling in quadrant IV are candidates for Retirement
4. Application Dependency and Interface Diagrams
mPrizm helps by capturing interface details and automating creation of interface diagrams at the click of a button. The output generated can showcase applications inter-dependencies, dependencies on servers, database and external entities. It also helps analyze impact on portfolio, should an application be planned for decommissioning.
5. Benefits of mPrizm
Ensuring optimum business coverage
mPrizm establishes mapping of applications to the business processes to illustrate high level applications functional capability. This helps IT to assess resource capability and redundancy areas for optimization of supported business processes.
Visibility into overall IT landscape
mPrizm facilitates creation of detailed application inventory at an enterprise level. Applications within the portfolio can be clustered based on similar characteristics and attributes so that a large portfolio can be easily split into areas that need attention.mPrizm helps in creating applications dependency diagrams for entire portfolio and thereby providing flexibility towards portfolio maintenance..
Managing TCO and preparation of business case
mPrizm helps the IT organization to capture cost details for applications on all key dimensions such as maintenance, development, defects correction, testing, deployment, production support etc.It also facilitates preparation of business case and evaluation of alternatives through analysis techniques as ROI, NPV, IRR etc.
Creating future roadmap
mPrizm helps decision making to take up projects in the areas of functional re-engineering, technology migration, retirement or maintain as it is to improve applications. By classifying applications based on assessment parameters such as FQ, TQ, MQ, TCO, business criticality etc. into maintain, integrate, migrate, eliminate, based on their assessment, the client can formulate a strategy and create lifecycle plan for each of the applications.
By reducing time and effort spent on optimizing the number of applications, maintaining and supporting low-value applications, mPrizm provides benefits that are straightforward, immediate, and easily quantifiable. Additionally, it helps to free resources and budget for value adding activities. It seeks to improve the business performance of IT application portfolios systematically and proactively by quantifying the value of each application, eliminating or retiring redundant and end-of-life applications, and renovating applications that still have residual value