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How to improve your IT portfolio management



A Q&A with HP Software CTO Mark Potts


The big disruptions affecting IT organizations today–Agile, cloud and mobility–mean that IT executives have to deal with a high velocity of change. At the same time, they’re also facing demands for reduced time to market and more flexibility in their spending patterns. These pressures reinforce the need for portfolio management, lifecycle metrics and a system to gauge overall IT performance. Given these trends, we asked Mark Potts, CTO of management software at HP, for his advice to IT portfolio managers.


Q. What challenges do IT portfolio managers face as they try to manage their organizations? 


Mark Potts: A significant factor is the complexity and vast amounts of data that execs deal with today in order to be able to understand and make decisions around their portfolio. For example, for the applications portfolio you need a comprehensive view of the applications , their role in supporting the business processes and their dependencies and relationships, and then you need a way to assimilate the information that is going to be instrumental in managing the portfolio. You also need to track demand, vendor and contact management financials, resource consumption, quality and risk, and so on.


Q. What about the management tools execs are using? What does this data explosion mean for them?


MP: Some execs are still using spreadsheets to analyze their portfolios. With tools like Excel, it’s near impossible to get real-time visibility into the organization’s operations, thereby slowing down the whole process of decision making. And without a real-time or near real-time way to get data and make decisions executives are slowing down their ability to deliver business value. Without a comprehensive, connected and flexible IT reporting system it’s near impossible to manage complex relationships with external service providers and meet the needs of today’s hybrid delivery.


Q. What are the benefits of such reporting systems?


MP: Performance systems allow you to execute systematically and operate proactively. So they offer the following benefits:


  • Data can be aggregated in a single source so that you don’t have to spend time searching for information.
  • You can now set and see your plan of record being put into action—aggregating demands, performing business value analyses, prioritizing and adjusting accordingly.
  • You get enhanced visibility into key performance criteria including cost, resources, service delivery and compliance.
  • You are more likely to be able to secure your data and manage its lifecycle, which helps with audits and compliance.
  • Automated data collection and analysis speeds execution time for projects, decision making, etc.
  • You can govern your portfolio of projects, services, opportunities and vendors in real time.


It’s not just about using the system for day-to-day decision making but also being able to use it for strategic decision making. Overall, automated systems can help you to be proactive about more strategic agendas like application rationalization, information optimization, enterprise architecture and so on.


Q. What advice can you give for execs looking to improve their management?


MP: They can start by asking questions of themselves about the state of their organization and app portfolio. Here are eight questions to get started:


  • Do they know what their strategic agendas are and how they contribute to the business’s ability to differentiate itself? If not, make these clear and define how these will be measured.
  • Do they know what are the best management KPIs for their industry? E.g., amount of spend on IT as a percent of revenue?
  • Are they becoming a “broker” of services in their organization, and how are they handling this today?
  • Do they have a common data model so that if they do invest in a system they will be able to pull the right data?
  • Do they know which apps are business critical (maybe some are candidates for retirement)?
  • Do they know which business processes are business critical and need to be supported?
  • Do they have an information lifecycle policy?
  • Do they know all the relevant policies, audits, reports and so on, that they want to generate or need to generate to keep track of their business?


For more information, take the applications executive assessment and learn more about the HP IT Performance Suite.


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About the Author


I have been a writer/editor in the technology field for several years.

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