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Building a business case
for application retirement

These four steps will prepare you to face even your biggest detractor.

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Remember, the money and time you recoup can be directed toward unfunded strategic or innovative pursuits and can also go a long way toward persuading those still unconvinced.

Are you considering an application retirement project? If so, you should be familiar with its associated benefits, including cost savings, improved system performance, and a budget surplus you can redirect toward any number of other projects.

Just because you know the advantages, however, does not mean all stakeholders do. In fact, your company is willingly throwing money and resources at the maintenance of legacy applications. Your job in building a business case is to show them just how much they are wasting—and how to get it back.

Here are four steps to get you started:

  1. Know who matters
    Legacy applications are often widely spread throughout an organization. Regardless, understand that any application retirement project will be, out of necessity, a collaborative effort. You will likely work with executives in your finance, IT, and legal departments, as well as group managers in operations, architecture planning, and application development.
  2. Prepare for pushback
    The main reason that organizations balk at application retirement is the fear of data loss. Users who currently use that data for reporting or reference may assume it will be impossible to access once the application is decommissioned. You will need to be prepared to educate them otherwise. Other issues may include an impending data migration, compliance, or regulatory concerns, or just a basic aversion to change. Of course, you know that there are advanced data archiving and reporting tools available that let users access data even after a legacy application is retired. If you face pushback, try finding out the source of that person’s or business unit’s concern and then address that issue directly.
  3. Gather metrics
    Compile a list of every cost associated with maintaining your legacy applications. Include infrastructure costs, software licensing fees, and compensation for dedicated consultants on retainer to maintain archaic components. Finally, calculate the number of hours spent each month backing up, restoring, and running these systems. Remember, the money and time you recoup can be directed toward unfunded strategic or innovative pursuits and can also go a long way toward persuading those still unconvinced.
  4. Take it one step at a time
    You might be tempted to hastily start when you realize how much money you could be saving, but you need to take it at a pace your organization can withstand. Application retirement doesn’t have to be a significant endeavor. You should think of it as an ongoing process rather than a project with a clear beginning and end.

Start with one or two low-risk legacy applications—ones that people access on a semi-regular or less frequent basis but that can create substantial value if retired. This will be a good proof of concept to both stakeholders and pessimists. Illustrate exactly how they can get the savings without losing access to data. With time, users will realize that a leaner application portfolio generates substantial rewards, and your application retirement project should fund itself.

Will you be the hero that helps fund innovation at your organization by retiring legacy applications? Test out your projections with the Informatica Database Archiving and Application Retirement Business Value Assessment Tool.

1Jennifer Gahm, Bill Lundell, and John McKnight, “Research Report: Application Retirement Trends.” Enterprise Strategy Group, October 2011.

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