Like many organisations, AstraZeneca had an expanding application estate that was costing millions of dollars to maintain and adding complexity and inflexibility when change was required. They needed a step-change, and they got it.


A legacy of merger and acquisition activity within the business, and significant outsourcing in the IT department, had led to a poor understanding of the overall application estate. Ownership of the application estate was fragmented. There was a perception that there were way too many applications, costing the organisation far too much to run, without a clear fact base to back up either assertion.

“We deliberately set up ultra-aggressive goals. We needed a step-change in attitudes to cleaning up and simplifying our IT estate”

Chris Day – VP IT Strategy and Performance


Clear ownership was established for the vast majority of applications.

The offshore-based Service Retirement capability was established and worked through a backlog of 700 divest applications, following a standardised process.

“Reducing the cost of our legacy application estate is critical to our business plans. It will achieve annual savings in excess of $25m.”

Chris Day, VP IT Strategy and Performance


A broad team of IT, business and service delivery experts was brought together, providing clear responsibilities and relationships across all areas of the business, providing the foundation of ownership crucial to the success of the programme. A master list of applications was created, and the team systematically reviewed this baseline inventory, looking to establish an owner and strategy for each application and alignment to the AstraZeneca business capability framework.

The key to simplification would be to maximise the pool of ‘end of life’ applications, with a target to identify a 65% reduction from start to finish.

The programme also set about establishing a robust, repeatable solution for completing application decommissioning, in a way that would stand up to the exacting Legal and Regulatory Compliance requirements which characterise the Pharmaceutical industry, a necessary capability often overlooked by IT departments.

“We reduced our IT estate by 25% and achieved savings of over $15m”

Chris Day, VP IT Strategy and Performance

By building this capability as a cost-effective Service (leveraging its network of offshore delivery centres), AstraZeneca’s IT is safeguarding against falling into the same state again in the future.

Having already decommissioned 200 applications, the team was on track to achieve its target of a 40% reduction in application numbers and reducing the total cost of running AstraZeneca’s IT estate by over $20m.

POSTED BY: Hayley Saich - Head of Marketing

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