Failed new year resolutions? There’s still hope for your application portfolio

A man controlling multiple apps against a city background.
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In a national quest for self-improvement, a whopping 54% of the UK population set New Year’s resolutions for 2022. These resolutions often cover areas from personal health, kicking bad habits to career progression, and are a much-revered tradition when looking to the year ahead.

About the author

Marc Zottner is Global Lead App Modernization, Office of CTO at VMware Tanzu.

Although New Year’s resolutions are notorious for their high uptake, it may not come as a surprise that they have a comparatively low success rate. And as the first couple of months of 2022 pass, the cracks are sure to be showing for some. In 2021, out of those who made resolutions, around half of Brits admitted to failing to keep at least some, while 20% admitted to not keeping any.

But not keeping up with a New Year’s resolution doesn’t necessarily translate into failure – it’s all about long-term success and keeping it real. The key is to make sure your goals are manageable, by focusing on sustainable and long-term success. Similarly, cleaning up your app portfolio (AP) in 2022 may seem like a mammoth task, but maybe it is time to stop looking at it as a one-off daunting project. Instead, success may lie in taking it one step at a time.

Looking to replace broken resolutions with something more manageable? Why not refocus on optimizing up your AP, and making sure you are a leader and not a laggard. By 2025, Gartner estimates that over 95% of new digital workloads will be deployed on cloud-native platforms, and you don’t want to ne one of the last ones making the move. Here are some thoughts to consider, and how to make sure your efforts last.

Resolutions are a marathon, not a sprint

Anybody who has managed to keep their resolution this far into the year knows that it’s counterproductive to do too much too soon. For example, we see thousands of Brits flood the gyms in January in a hope to get fitter, only to cancel their memberships by the time February rolls around when they realize they can’t keep up a routine. This concept is also applicable to cleaning up an AP – if you are going to work on establishing new, sustainable ways of building software, they can’t have the flimsy constitution of a gym membership we abandon by February 1st.

You need to start small, iterate quickly, and try not to address everything at once. Refining an AP is not a one-off: it takes commitment. Like in Charles Duhigg’s The Power of Habit. You need to choose a habit that fits in within your core ideology, and understand how it will affect your daily work and business. When it comes to software, you need to learn and implement new sustainable developing techniques, rather than reverting to a lift and shift of applications. By adopting a lean approach to transforming an AP, with small iterations and prioritization becoming a continuously evolving process, rather than tackling everything at once, the resolution becomes much easier to stick to.

Modernization projects can take years to be completed for thousands of apps, so it is essential to pace yourself and remember to plan your pathway starting with the end.

Visualizing the end from the very beginning

Like Stephen R. Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, you should begin with the end in mind. Before you set a resolution, you should visualize why you are making it and what sort of life you’ll lead when it’s been fulfilled. This is a crucial step if it is to become a permanent lifestyle change.

Modernizing a large portfolio can be daunting, achieving no real meaningful return on investment in terms of business outcomes if not framed properly early in the process. Success can be found in taking a holistic approach and roping in other members of your business, with their wide-ranging expertise, rather than taking an IT-centric approach. This ensures you have overall business goals in mind, acting as the driving force for IT goals.

Beware of biased assumptions

Modernization does not necessarily mean jumping on to the newest fad, whether that be cloud, container, or kubernetes. True modernization involves deeper and holistic change in the way you craft software for a meaningful business purpose. Be it saving, velocity, security, or scalability, your modernization plan should be channeled through the lens of that goal, sidestepping trends that do not genuinely help you reach it.

Equally, that means assessing how new techs for you will work in practice - for example, inefficient cloud usage won’t save money as you hoped through economies of scale. Make sure that the technologies you leverage are the right pick for your purpose.

There is no shortcut

Unfortunately, Just buying fancy new tools won’t magically make your apps better themselves - just like spending £500 on a yoga mat won’t magically give you the ability to do the splits (sorry). The same is true in IT - you can’t paint over your apps with shiny new tech, so it’s important to assess and improve the actual apps themselves. In the end, it boils down to learning continuously and honing skills through regular practice.

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Marc Zottner

Marc Zottner, Field CTO at VMware Tanzu.