We are in an unprecedented era of growth and transformation. Mobile and cloud technology have given enterprises endless new opportunities to become even more efficient using software as a service (SaaS) apps and programs that seem to multiply by the day. In fact, finding new and better ways to sort, process, and manage our workflow has become almost an addiction for many companies. Combined with old and outdated legacy systems—not to mention an influx of BYOD devices—it’s led to what has come to be known as “app sprawl”—a gnarly web of unused, sometimes even unrecognizable programs that continues to be supported by your network and IT department. In fact, many companies do not even realize how many unused programs they are continuing to patch, update, and maintain, all on the company’s dollar.
We’ve all experienced “app sprawl” on our smart phones—waking up to find our storage completely maxed out with a range of scanners, photo apps, games, and services we may or may not even remember downloading. Just as we need to go through and edit our app inventory, businesses also need to go through the process of weeding their app garden—removing those that are no longer used or needed, or are redundant wherever possible. If not, they risk spending millions in storage space, wasted IT hours, and innumerous security risks from out-of-date services.
Just like cleaning out a packed garage—or cleaning up our growing data swamps—cleaning up your app sprawl can be an overwhelming, sometimes even daunting, task. The following are a few tips to minimize the stress of streamlining your SaaS inventory and saving time and money in the process.
The only way to get a clear idea of how many apps and programs are flooding your system is to perform a full-scale inventory. Track absolutely everything you’re storing, from mobile to desktop to the cloud, and all the legacy systems in between. You’ll likely be surprised by what you find.
Categorize the Inventory
Categorize the list by app or program type to spot redundancies in services. Some may simply be different editions or versions of the same program that were never cleaned out or culled on previous updates. Others will be “best of breed” variations of the same type of software that may have been tried and rejected over the years.
Find the Owner
Depending on app category, determine who owns it, and work with them to determine which version of the app or program should remain in place. From an IT perspective, focus on compatibility over fragmentation whenever possible. Discuss the owner’s true needs and whether a best of breed solution is critical, or if an in-suite program can do the job. Every program you choose to keep should be critical to your business’ overall goals.
Once you’ve decided which apps and programs to keep, begin the process of removing, retiring, and updating your system, always keeping compatibility in mind. Depending on what you find, it might be time to update legacy systems to ensure a more efficient experience moving forward. Whatever the case, create a solid new inventory of what you’ve got to make the best, most informed decisions on new apps and programs moving forward.
Determine a Process
Once you’ve got your sprawl under control, you’ll need to establish a process to ensure it won’t continue to get out of hand in the future. Make your app and program inventory available so all teams are aware of what services are already available on the network or cloud. Especially in the case of BYOD, make sure there are strict guidelines regarding the appropriateness of bringing new apps and trials on the system, explaining the potentially catastrophic results if guidelines aren’t followed.
There has never been a more exciting time to run a business. So many tools are easily and affordably available to help you run your company more efficiently. Still, it’s important to keep a level head as you try and adopt new downloads and SaaS programs. Your app inventory can quickly become a sprawl if it isn’t properly managed.
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Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. From Big Data to IoT to Cloud Computing, Newman makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology projects, which leads to his ideas regularly being cited in CIO.Com, CIO Review and hundreds of other sites across the world. A 5x Best Selling Author including his most recent “Building Dragons: Digital Transformation in the Experience Economy,” Daniel is also a Forbes, Entrepreneur and Huffington Post Contributor. MBA and Graduate Adjunct Professor, Daniel Newman is a Chicago Native and his speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.