What is Application Portfolio Management (APM)?

Application Portfolio Management (APM) is an approach for managing enterprise IT software applications and software-based services. APM provides stakeholders with an inventory of the company’s software applications as well as the metrics to illustrate the utility associated with each application. Essentially, it lets management measure the financial benefits of an application in comparison to the cost of its maintenance and operations.

This endeavour is indeed very relevant, especially when you consider that organizations spend two-thirds of their IT budgets on ongoing operations and maintenance. Corporate mergers and acquisitions and failed attempts to adopt a new tool are but a few reasons why an enterprise might be supporting (and, therefore, paying for) multiple applications that perform the same, or a very similar function. This ultimately translates into an increased operating cost, due to keeping and periodically upgrading them separately, but also an unnecessarily high level of complexity.

As a result, APM is concerned with the transparency of the application inventory and resource consumption. Effective APM enables organizations to:

  • find and cut applications overlap either partially or wholly with another application
  • objectively measure an application’s status taking into consideration its stability, quality and maintainability
  • objectively measure the business value and impact of an application
  • facilitate the best assignment of resources

APM helps you understand and optimise your application portfolio, align the needs of business and IT, assess the reliability of applications within an environment and make better financial and strategic decisions; all of which combine to greatly reduce your costs and make your organisation more successful.



What is the goal of APM? How is APM measured?

APM practitioners’ main goal is to keep a lean, productive applications inventory. The way they achieve this is by implementing a reiterative process of establishing, monitoring and reporting on a set of key metrics to illustrate the business benefits of each application. Here are some of the most widely employed metrics for APM:

  • Return on Investment
  • Total Cost of Ownership
  • Business Value of IT
  • Usage
  • Age of Applications
  • Technology Mix

These metrics can be aimed at understanding the value of different aspects of a company, depending on what stakeholders are interested in, i.e., technology, business strategy etc. iServer enables APM professionals to inventory and manage their application and technology portfolios in a single central location, capturing relevant information such as costs, lifecycle dates, ownership and health assessments. The inventory allows users to show the business benefits of each application and therefore inform the decision-making process in order to steer the company onto the path of best value. This reduces costs and improves the value the organization derives from its application portfolio.



How is APM different from IT Portfolio Management or Strategic Portfolio Management (SPM)?

Application portfolio management is a subdomain of IT portfolio management, and it concerns itself with the management of an enterprise’s software applications and software-based services.

Strategic Portfolio Management is another subdomain of IT portfolio management. SPM groups project capabilities into packages that can scale as your business needs change. It considers the capabilities and functionalities needed for business and IT planning alignment, IT investment planning and management, IT portfolio optimization, strategy execution, and cost and risk management.


What is APM used for? 

The details of your application portfolio might be scattered throughout your organisation. A central repository to collate this information is an important first step, but it doesn’t address the needs of all stakeholders.

The CIO can’t make informed decisions, the business analyst cannot see how IT supports the business, the architect struggles to reduce complexity, and users can’t access the information they need.

The business analyst needs to ensure that business and IT are aligned.

Unfortunately, the IT portfolio may not support the business strategy of your organisation well.

With no way to measure how well each application meets the business needs, how can the business analyst bring these into alignment?


What are typical APM use cases? 

Cloud Migrations: Understanding your full catalog of applications is a prerequisite to moving to the cloud. APM supports end-to-end visibility into what apps teams are using, becomes more important as IT groups manage a mixed portfolio of on-premise and cloud applications.

M&A: APM is useful for companies considering an acquisition or merger.

Cost optimization:

Reducing IT complexity:

Prioritizing IT initiatives: APM prioritizes projects and their associated applications according to business value, capabilities and available resources.

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What are the Benefits of APM?

APM how do you cut costs without cutting business? How can you invest more in innovation, development and growth? It is an unfortunate fact that almost all large organisations have many software applications, some of which may no longer be in use, some of which may duplicate each other’s functions. Forrester estimates that around 60% of IT spending in the average department goes to maintaining existing applications. APM attempts to address this situation, by creating a catalogue of all the applications in an organisation, and rating each one for technical fit, support for the business, cost, number of users and other factors.

  • Centralize your IT portfolio within a single repository
  • Increase the visibility of your portfolio by publishing online
  • Make informed investment and rationalization decisions
  • Eliminate needless redundancy and duplication of function
  • Greatly reduce your operating costs
  • Reduce compliance risk



What are the Challenges of APM? Why does APM fail?


  • Lack of product ownership and executive support
  • Gap between business / IT goals
  • Organizational immaturity



What tools does iServer365 offer for APM?

iServer365 offers several solutions packs extends the capabilities of the iServer architecture repository, providing all stakeholders with an insight into the application portfolio.

  • Application Portfolio Core
  • Application Rationalization
  • Application Roadmap

iServer365’s range of out of the box dashboards includes Application Scoring, Total Cost of Ownership, Operational Improvement, and Strategic Improvement. These web-based dashboards enable users to drill down into each application for more detailed information. The platform enables detailed reporting on both the application and technology portfolios. The application portfolio view shows a comprehensive list of all applications in the portfolio including total cost of each application, lifecycle status and complexity which is counted by the number of relationships the application has to other applications. In the technology portfolio, there are several views that can be generated including general view, details view, lifecycle view, and cost view. iServer365’s APM business view shows the number of applications supporting business processes and functions and the costs associated with each application.

Our Services team offers an APM Accelerator package. The APM Accelerator is a package containing all the tools needed to successfully set up an application portfolio management practice. Instead of wasting time and resources starting an APM function from scratch, you can opt to receive iServer365 preconfigured to it. The accelerator includes a method for APM, useful templates, together with tools that let you to start application consolidation and IT-business alignment immediately.



How do you get started with APM?


The first step is to collate and organise application information within a central architecture repository. Identify the owners and users of the application. Identify the lifecycle of the application and its business value, costs, and how it is serving the business

iServer365 then analyses the raw data and uses it to present each stakeholder with the views they need - such as cost or business and technical fit - through a series of user-friendly reports and dashboards.

Using SharePoint, iServer365 makes the application portfolio visible across the organization, helping business and IT stakeholders to co-operate, and allowing you to check the status of your application portfolio via a web browser, wherever you are. Application rationalization is a continuous process. IServer365 makes it easier to ensure that the IT landscape is actively aligning to business goals and objectives.


Further reading

CIO Challenges: Spiraling Technology Costs & Complexity

White Paper May 19, 2023

At Orbus Software we have identified 8 major issues that CIOs are likely to struggle with when it comes to meeting the demands of the digital age. In this paper, we will explore the reasons behind spiraling costs and what CIOs can do to take control.

What are the main concerns facing Chief Information Officers in the modern era?

At Orbus Software we have identified 8 major issues that CIOs are likely to struggle with when it comes to meeting the demands of the digital age.

The constant growth of technology costs is the first challenge. With more and more IT spend going to new technologies and new applications, it can be impossible to bring costs under control.

In this paper, we will explore the reasons behind spiraling costs and what CIOs can do to take control.

Download Now to find out:
  • The incredible size of application portfolios
  • How Shadow IT creates hidden costs
  • The need for Application Rationalization
  • How the iServer Suite can deliver solutions