When IT systems grow over many years, after a while it is often no longer really comprehensible how exactly business processes and workflows interact with the hardware and software used, and whether they still fit together at all. Employees are used to working with sometimes cumbersome architectures and know what they have to do, but their actual understanding of the applications is shrinking. This is where companies often waste resources, but it’s usually only noticed when the relevant processes start to go haywire. It is therefore worth taking a holistic look at even seemingly well-functioning systems in order to uncover possible weak points at an early stage.
Consider requirements and wishes of all employees
In order for a company to survive on the market in the long term, it is necessary in some cases to modernize the IT architecture. While the idea of modernization is probably one of the most obvious reasons for a structured analysis, it is not the only one. Thus, all employees working with the respective applications must not only be able to cope with it, but at best be provided with a platform for effective and also creative work.
To ensure this, company and project managers must first ask themselves the following questions:
What should the system be able to do?
What we are doing very well so far?
Which applications are not necessary?
Where there is potential for improvement?
In order to answer these questions in a meaningful way, there must be regular, open communication with those who work with the system – the employees. At this point, project management experts for IT and organizational projects, for example, can provide valuable insights and offer the necessary objective perspective that is often denied to those responsible due to their proximity to the company. By asking specific questions about wishes, needs and requirements for the work and the ideal system, guidelines can be created for a detailed analysis and problems can be quickly identified.
This can be followed by a joint definition of the target IT architecture. The principle should always be: "We will not get everything we want, but we will definitely not get everything we don’t say." In this way, only one suitable system with sensible tools can be introduced in joint coordination.
Taking time saves resources
However, it may seem like a waste of time or a mammoth task to turn the entire IT architecture upside down. But how long can it go well to keep changing only individual aspects of an application based on case-by-case decisions? How long can it work to only adapt systems to currently occurring circumstances from day-to-day business without looking at them in their entirety and changing them if necessary??
Once a system has been greatly expanded and modified, but at the same time is firmly rooted in all work processes, it is difficult to analyze the IT landscape in terms of structural problems, redundancies and optimization potential in just a short period of time. It seems even more utopian to carry out a system renewal.
But those who do not create the space for a detailed architecture analysis will suffer in the long term from the individuality and complexity of the IT systems, also because the volumes of data to be processed are constantly increasing. Such organically grown and thus uncoordinatedly expanded systems are therefore no longer reasonably maintainable after a certain point. They require an enormous amount of time and money for their administration and can no longer meet modern demands for high speed.
So if IT contains oversized solutions and superfluous functions, it makes work more tedious and exhausting for old employees as well as new colleagues. Thus, employees put their resources such as time, creativity and motivation into managing applications instead of completing the actual tasks with their help.
Minimizing security gaps
Such a complex, confusing and therefore difficult to maintain system will sooner or later become a security vulnerability. Software developments and their nature can no longer be specifically controlled due to the lack of a detailed overview of the IT architecture. This increases the risk of problems in deploying and operating a high-performance system.
An IT architecture analysis, however, offers the opportunity to identify both strengths and weaknesses of the existing system. Potentially serious vulnerabilities include neglect of data protection regulations, inadequate email archiving and back-up, exhausted server resources, outdated hardware and software, and inadequate protection against cybercrime. In order to protect company data from loss or external interference, an assessment of the systems is worthwhile in any case. IT often provides the foundation for the work and performance of employees, because the degree of digitization of a company is indisputably one of the most important success factors.
It is therefore necessary to establish security as a holistic concept that not only includes the entire value chain, but also acts beyond it. Security-as-a-service offerings are gaining in popularity because they offer permanent availability of the latest security functions on demand.