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Application Consolidation: Where the Real Savings Is

After being given the directive to consolidate all IT operations for the state of Massachusetts, Curtis Wood (CIO of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security) saw plenty of opportunity. As David Raths (the article's author) explains, there were also plenty of pitfalls, including the difficulty in uprooting users from familiar applications: Despite the promise of cost savings, this type of consolidation has several potential pitfalls, including some unhappy users forced to give up familiar software. “The worst mistake is to treat these as technology projects with the CIO taking the lead and gathering requirements,” Claps [research director for Gartner] said. That leads customization and change orders to please everyone, which makes the software hard to maintain and pushes the project beyond its budget. Instead, see it as a business re-engineering effort, Claps said. “If it's ERP, the treasurer or CFO should take the lead; if it involves tax systems, a revenue commissioner; in state government, you need the deputy secretary level of commitment.” Another danger is that different organizations (which had used different applications in the past) may have very unique reporting needs. For instance, one group may need to know user interactions in a granular level, while another group isn't particularly interested. As a CIO, you must determine at what level to set the metrics gathered, and what single application can work for all parties involved.

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