APQC, the American Productivity & Quality Center, “the world's foremost authority on benchmarking, best practices, process and performance improvement, and knowledge management (KM),” recently published a report on "IT application development and maintenance key benchmarks." APQC, among other services, such as providing an expansive library of business processes, also provides such benchmarking of enterprises’ IT spending across various industry sectors. Because of such work, Enterprise Architects should consider using APQC when doing their own benchmarking, but I find that most organizations and individuals taking EA training have not even heard of APQC. Instead, they depend on The Open Group, the Object Management Group, or by vendors such as CapGemini or Accenture for their research. Even related benchmarking published by the U.S. government on its CIO Dashboard focuses only on IT budgets, risks, and projects, lacking key performance indicators for more granular analysis.
When we look at IT spent as part of overall budget and the difficulties facing many organizations in modernizing their application portfolios, we should not be surprised that APQC has undertaken such research. After all, many industries’ digital transformation initiatives need to be supported by an effective and efficient IT function. Common pain points cut across all industries, such as addressing legacy systems modernization and developing methods and skills to reduce design and technical debt. In addition, many enterprises have also started agile transformation initiatives that promise to deliver business value at an accelerated pace. However, when we review agile methods and their support in scaling to portfolio level or large- scale development, we mainly see qualitative recommendations. There is a lack of methods that can help us to deal with large-scale complexity and design debt with a customized, repeatable architecture pattern. However, The Open Group has recently published an excellent paper on application portfolio modernization that is well-worth reviewing ( https://publications.opengroup.org/guides/g18b).
Authored by Alex Wyka, Senior Consultant and Trainer, EA Principals