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Rootbound: Digging Up IT Inefficiencies

Dallas 2011/June/28 : by Royce Brown, Managing Principal

The discipline of IT Portfolio Management can help untangle the inefficiencies and excessive costs of technology investments made over previous decades.

The first time we were asked to map the Information Technology (IT) infrastructure of a large financial institution, the picture we drew could have been titled “Rootbound.” On the surface, the technology appeared to be getting the job done. Beneath the surface, it was a tangled mat of dependencies, disconnects, redundancies, inefficiencies and unknowns that would, if left untended, deplete IT’s value to the institution.

No one was surprised. After all, in four or five decades of the IT explosion, occurring simultaneously with rampant M&A, when has a bank had the time to re-tool its entire IT infrastructure? Like professional tennis players with no off-season during which to hone a new weapon or correct a bad habit, the best the industry could do was keep deploying to stay in the game. Too often expediency took precedence over planning, speed-to-market over long-term value, business need over enterprise need and compliance over efficiency.

The unmanaged portfolio environment is not just costly but also inflexible and slow at a time when bank CEOs are counting on flexibility and nimbleness as essential to their strategy. The recent explosion of new laws and regulations has exposed this vulnerability; precious IT resources are consumed by separate initiatives in every silo to get myriad systems compliance-ready before deadlines.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Banks that adopt the discipline of IT Portfolio Management (ITPM) are seeing both rapid relief from the rootbound problem and hard-dollar savings that more than pay for the effort.