Rethinking Enterprise Applications

Issue 3, 2013

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CIOs need to embrace business process management (BPM) and application Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) to reduce costs and accelerate enterprise innovation

It’s hard to be Agile

In today’s rapidly changing business environment it is imperative that enterprises have the agility they need to quickly respond to evolving customer and competitive requirements. 

Although most companies acknowledge the benefits of agility, speed and flexibility, in reality this has been difficult for IT organizations to achieve.

The numbers tell an interesting story—very little budget is left for true innovation; complexity is driving project cost and schedule overruns; and meeting ever-increasing expectations is difficult. 

  • Budget:
    As much as 80 percent of the IT budget is consumed by maintenance and support of ongoing operations (source: Forrester) 

  • Projects:
    In the US, 25 percent of IT projects are over budget and 34 percent are behind schedule (source: Forrester)
    The average cost overrun is 43 percent (source: The Standish Group)

  • Expectations:
    41 percent of  projects fail to deliver the expected business value and ROI (source: TATA Consultancy survey)

The typical project reality is this—rigidly limiting project scope to control cost doesn’t provide the business flexibility to make changes when new information is discovered and requirements evolve.  However, expanding a project’s scope by adding new requirements late in a project can be difficult architecturally, cause schedule delays and cost overruns. 
Either way, business partners aren’t pleased and often have an application that’s not what is needed by the time it’s delivered. As long as 80 percent of the IT budget is spent on maintaining existing infrastructure, very little time and money is left to spend on strategic initiatives and innovation. 
Developing applications the way they’ve always been developed doesn’t provide a way out of this uncomfortable situation. Additionally, for enterprises embracing the transition to the digital enterprise, there are more projects than ever before.

The Long Tail of IT projects

Every CIO faces the need to maximize their budget to support as many positive and beneficial projects as possible. Many CIO’s have a backlog of several hundred application requests. This long queue of application requests can’t be started because of resource constraints or because the level of project complexity requires too much time to complete or specialized talent.
This problem is chronic across organizations. Gartner analyst Robert Handler notes that at least one-third of funded technology projects are currently in a backlog, waiting for IT to start on them. These projects in waiting are the Long Tail of IT—the list of projects that are important and impactful to different divisions of the business but just can’t be undertaken.
This Long Tail understandably happens because the core enterprise applications that run finance, human resources and manufacturing are mission critical to the company and top of mind for the CIO, leaving those back-burning projects still—well—burning. Over time, these Long Tail projects take a toll operationally, on general productivity and your business constituents who may come to rely more and more on their own makeshift solutions. These may include large-complex spreadsheets, home-grown databases and even custom software developed outside the oversight, control and expertise of IT. The departmental distraction and cost to manage and maintain those solutions or to make sure they have the right security and access control can be significant.
In fact, Long Tail projects become a hindrance to business growth. Each back-logged project is a missed opportunity to improve corporate performance, competitive position or increase revenues. 
In most cases, these departmental solutions could be quickly developed and delivered by IT if the corporation adopted a business process and application platform-as-a-service such as AgileApps Live.
Benefits for CIOs &
IT organizations
  • Lower development costs
  • Reduce TCO
  • Rapid time-to-value
  • Greater Business - IT alignment
  • Reusable & sharable components
  • Improved visibility and compliance
  • Better responsiveness for change
Benefits for Business & Subject Matter Experts
  • Saves time and effort
  • Adapt and customize their solutions
  • Improves collaboration
  • Create actionable processes
  • One tool to learn for many uses
  • Break away from spreadsheets

What is AgileApps Live?

AgileApps Live is a business process management and application platform-as-a-service (bpm + aPaaS) that allows the subject matter experts, as well as developers, to visually build and deploy application solutions. The AgileApps Live platform empowers business to have a better way to track and manage service requests, respond to incidents and resolve investigations.

Definition for the enterprise architect:  AgileApps Live applications are built using a metadata-rich relational model of definable objects that are designed to articulate real business entities such as customers, contracts and computers. Each object has key attributes that describe its structure and relationships to other objects (including 1:M and M:M relationships). The web-based visual designer creates an application’s objects, fields and relationships. AgileApps Live applications are dynamically rendered using database metadata. There’s no code generation or file-based compilation. The metadata XML that defines your application includes the presentation, layouts, logic, processes, business rules, access definitions, services, automations, reports, dashboards, custom code and more.

Definition for the business user: AgileApps Live applications have a web user interface and are designed to empower subject matter experts to visually model and create a process-driven application in weeks rather than months. AgileApps Live applications have all the enterprise features users expect including a robust process modeler, flexible business rules, document assembly, drag and drop e-forms creation, customized reports, interactive dashboards, email/Facebook/Twitter integration, social collaboration and native mobile access.

By connecting the right people across an organization, coordinating activities and tasks, and tracking communications and decisions, AgileApps Live helps companies deliver a higher level of service, reduces costs and mitigates risk.

Benefits AgileApps Live provides IT budgets

The relentless assault on IT budgets requires that CIOs get the most from the 20 percent that’s left for new projects and driving innovation across the enterprise. AgileApps Live is the essential tool CIOs have been waiting for to better deliver business value by increasing competitiveness, reducing costs and increasing efficiency.  

Cost savings
Compared to building, deploying and managing traditional application architectures, the costs savings of switching to AgileApps Live are significant (especially when factoring in hardware, software licenses and personnel responsible for maintaining systems). The cost of AgileApps Live, like any Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offering, is scalable to the needs of the organization. 

Adding predictability to the budget 
You can create as many applications as you want on AgileApps Live. Cost will only change as you add users. This scalable pricing adapts to organizational changes letting you pay as you grow. By creating multiple applications, each organization will develop an economy of scale that improves the overall value of each user license.

Maximizing time-to-value
AgileApps Live delivers a fast ROI because the cost savings are immediate when compared to traditional homegrown, self-built, self-managed infrastructure. AgileApps Live applications can be visually changed and optimized throughout the development cycle and can go live the second they are finished. Companies can use AgileApps sandboxing features to implement test, release processes to ensure software quality. 

Provide adaptability & reuse
Multiple applications can be built on AgileApps Live and can be shared and repurposed across the enterprise—investments made for one project can be leveraged by another, integrations for one project can be used by another, custom code and components can also be shared. A common user experience and compatibility with enterprise single sign-on makes access a breeze and shortens the time it takes for users to learn and become productive on each new application.

Strengthen governance

AgileApps Live helps enterprises ensure that information access rules and policies are met. As shown in Figure 1, administrators have fine-grain control of application access, role, team and user permissions to determine who can view, update, and change the application.

Figure 1: Administrators have fine-grain control

Outsource the infrastructure and platform
Many large enterprises are already accustomed to outsourcing their applications using companies such as, Workday and NetSuite.  AgileApps Live offers CIOs the same flexible and commonly used SaaS model but for a business process and application platform-as-a-service. The platform enables technically capable business users to create their own applications, without ever writing a line of code, reinforcing the business’s ability to adapt. IT can offload simple projects and customizations as well as control who is certified and eligible to make changes. 

Deployment flexibility—public or private cloud

AgileApps Live is available as a hosted service. However, as CIOs manage their application portfolio there could be business circumstances such as regulatory and legal compliance issues, IT control and governance issues, or geo-political considerations, where an on-premises deployment is preferable. Whatever your reasons, you can have the productivity and flexibility benefits of AgileApps Live also hosted on your private cloud.

Is your organization ready?

The real value delivered from IT is in its ability to help focus resources and solve business problems. AgileApps Live helps IT become consultants and partners with business line managers by helping them quickly streamline processes, share data, increase collaboration and access information wherever they go.

The challenge has always been how to cost effectively deliver information solutions that help the business succeed and positively impact the enterprise. With AgileApps Live, IT can provide its constituents with innovative, lightweight, easy-to-manage ways to streamline processes and information sharing while moving the organization to a unified platform. Together, each of these applications can significantly improve the operations of a company. 


What to do next?

Software AG provides the AgileApps Live business process management and application platform-as-a-service expressly to address these issues and opportunities.  

Visit today to download your free trial, view a demonstration video, or set up a meeting with a Software AG consultant who can show you how AgileApps Live is a better way to create situational, process-driven and case management applications.