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 REAL CHANGE TO IT – AND A REAL DIFFERENCE TO THE BUSINESS

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.

“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

Ownership of the application estate was fragmented: split between central and distributed models and while it was possible to assemble raw data about today’s application landscape, there was very little strategic information about how the landscape would look in the future.

In short, 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.

THE APPROACH

Clear ownership has been established for the vast majority of applications (at the start of the process, more than 1,100 were “homeless or orphaned”, this number has since been reduced to less than 100), with the completeness of application strategy and business capability alignments being even greater.

The offshore-based Service Retirement capability is established and working through the current backlog of 700 divest applications, following a standardized process to assess and archive required data, before terminating support and licensing contracts and finally passing the details of the underpinning infrastructure components to colleagues who will finish the job by removing redundant hardware.

“Reducing the cost of our legacy application estate is critical to our business plans. It will achieve annual savings in excess of $25 Million” Chris Day, VP IT Strategy and Performance

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 AZ’s IT estate by over $20m by end-2016.

THE OUTCOME

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, leveraging AZ’s recent investment in ServiceNow – a single centralized IT service and operations management system. The team systematically reviewed this baseline inventory, looking to establish three things for each application:

  1. An agreed owner
  2. The strategy for the application
  3. The alignment to the AstraZeneca business capability framework

Application strategies were defined in 3 simple categories:

  1. Invest – for applications with an expected life-span of 5 years or more
  2. Maintain – for applications expected to be in use for the next 2 to 5 years
  3. Divest – applications at the end of their lifecycle, candidates for decommissioning over the next 2 years.

The key to simplification would be to maximize the pool of ‘Divest’ applications, and a target-led approach was used to drive this with the programme team challenged to identify a 65% reduction from start to finish (end-2018).

In parallel with validating and enriching the inventory, the programme also set about establishing a robust, repeatable solution for completing application decommissioning. AstraZeneca IT’s leadership team recognised that efficiently handling the end of an applications lifecycle, in a way that would stand up to the exacting Legal and Regulatory Compliance requirements which characterise the Pharmaceutical industry, is a necessary capability often overlooked by IT departments.

“We reduced our IT estate by 25% and achieved savings of over $15 Million by the end of 2015”, – Chris Day, VP IT Strategy and Performance

By building this capability as a cost-effective Service (leveraging its network of offshore delivery centres), which future change projects will call upon, AZ IT is safeguarding against falling into the same state again in the future.

POSTED BY: Dave Chatham - Account Director

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