Does your company fall into the category of Spaghetti Systems?
Before you answer, consider this: if your core business process is managed by three or more systems then you are headed into spaghetti territory.
Do you end up with spaghetti on your face when trying to implement a product, service or business change?
Big Companies tend to have evolved and grown through acquisitions, growth or upgrades and have many legacy systems – better known as IT spaghetti.
A spaghetti integration can take months or even years to get to the point of being disorderly.
Typically, each department in an organization may use an independent system to meet their own needs so that they are autonomous and easier to manage internally. Then, as new requirements arise, as an organization grows, and as inter-departmental communication becomes more important, point-to-point interfaces develop to tie each system together. Hence, a badly-planned “spaghetti” of systems arises. Every API added to solve a workflow adds yet another spaghetti ball.
If you had to do a recon of all these systems, you would notice a few things that are slowing down the productivity and accumulating unnecessary cost.
While a new overhaul system can sometimes be costly, when you look deeper you will see you will recover the cost quickly by eliminating and replacing the old systems.
What costs are brought in by IT Spaghetti?
- Maintenance of these IT spaghetti systems consumes resources and budgets that can impede a firm’s ability to innovate, slowing down business transformation.
- Licensing more systems can be expensive.
- Operational risk management. Managing and controlling complexity and dependencies is an important aspect, contracts need to be in place to ensure there are no major skills gaps and that all critical systems are able to be supported.
- The business and IT need to be aligned. Rationalization of systems cannot be performed without understanding the business processes that they support and the functional and non-functional requirements of the business. Missed targets because of this cost the company money.
- When something goes wrong, its like looking for a needle in a haystack, it can take hours just to locate the problem and fixing it could effect other systems. Time consuming and therefore expensive.
A simple mapping of all your systems will show you just where there are overlaps, unnecessary components and bottlenecks.
Business Intelligence suffers as company data that lives in multiple places in a spaghetti integration is more difficult to consolidate into a single and useful manner.
This makes it harder to paint a clear picture, whether it be analytical or operational of the organization as a whole.
So how do we go about unraveling the spaghetti?
Do things in stages:
- Do a full spaghetti system map. In other words, creating an accurate IT inventory. The complexity and system dependencies become transparent, as does any duplication of systems.
- Providing visibility and transparency across the business means that existing IT can potentially be re-used. It creates cost savings both in IT expenditure and reducing project timelines due to avoiding lengthy procurement processes, installation, deployment and training. It also creates opportunities for standardization and closer alignment of business with IT.
- Put together a full system rewrite and then break it up into phases. Doing this can help with teething issues and will quickly draw your attention to anything that has been left out.
- Make sure you have a dedicated team made up of the main users of the system to give you an insight into each of their requirements. Multiple departments is even better.
- Appoint one person to drive the project. Communication to the development team can become very muddy when multiple people are feeding info to them.
The value of a good to system far outweighs the cost