I have been in the desktop application space for a while and customers often say the same thing when the idea of an “Application Assessment” is suggested. I have heard many reasons not to conduct assessments, “It takes too long”, “I don’t want to pay for an assessment”, “We already pulled an inventory from tool X”, “The guy in IT told me we are all set”, “I sat with this guy on a plane yesterday and he thinks application assessments are useless” and my personal favorite “Our apps are working just fine, so why would we need an assessment?”.
I have traveled the globe supporting some of the largest companies in the world and the one constant from all of those customer visits, is that things are not always what they seem. I visited a customer to kick off an application packaging project a few years ago and was told that the application assessment was already complete. After months of meetings and reviews, the customer barely had what I would call an application inventory let alone an organized “Application Strategy”. Like a good home builder, it all comes down to the right tool for the job. The other side of the coin, that people often forget, is that the skill of the home builder is equally important.
One of my colleagues does a great job in the following blog discussing the importance of a skilled resource using the tools.
Let’s address a few of the comments from above
“I don’t want to pay for an assessment”
I get it, I really do I have never enjoyed telling customers to spend money when budgets are tight. What happens when the home builder does not investigate the terrain of the spot he is about to build a house on? What if he just shows up day one and starts building? What if the natural water runoff from the house next door, flows right through where the new house will be built? The new home owner will more than likely have constant foundation issues for years to come and spend thousands to resolve the issues. If only the home builder had conducted a simple, common sense drainage study to understand where the natural water runoff was going to flow. All of the problems could have been avoided.
So I get why customers don’t want to pay for application assessments, but it is better to discover major problems before the start of a project, as opposed to midway through.
“We already pulled an inventory from tool X”
I hear this comment quite a bit. Sometimes, for some customers you can get away with this scenario. In my experience however, it is rare that tool X, is able to provide the cohesive, organized, strategic data necessary to make better decisions within the environment.
For example, refer back to the customer project I discussed earlier. They used tool X to conduct an inventory of applications. So as part of the reports they had a bulk list of applications in the form of an excel spreadsheet. Tool X may have evolved over time, but this version of the product was not doing a good job of connecting application A, with endpoint B. Which is problematic when attempting to plan a migration. It is impossible to plan, if you don’t have a clue of which applications exist on specific endpoints, for specific users.
The home builder does not use a stapler to hang drywall. He uses a hammer because that is the right tool for the job. Half the battle is understanding and having confidence in the right tool to be used for the job.
“Our Applications are working just fine, so why would we need an assessment?”
On the surface this comment seems hard to refute. This customer seems very confident in the environmental information available. I can honestly say that 4 out of every 5 customers I have visited over the last few years, experience some version of the following conversation. Me…. “Thank you for allowing us to conduct a small application assessment within your environment. We have determined that the following list of applications represents the highest usage and deployment density across users and endpoints within your environment.” Customer…. “I see that you have listed Application A on your list. That is impossible, we retired that application two years ago.” Me….”Unfortunately, what you are looking at up to date. If you examine the applications installed and in use on “insert user name” desktop you will find Application A.” Customer….. “Well that’s awkward….” End scene.
The moral of the story here is that the accuracy of the data is often lost in reports output from some of the tools leveraged. You can have the prettiest report ever made, but if the data is not accurate, the effort is pointless.
The assessment tool used in each of the scenarios above to achieve success for customers was Stratusphere UX, from Liquidware Labs. I was working for VMware during the customer visits described above. When it was time for me to leave and explore other opportunities, Liquidware Labs was a logical landing spot based on the reliability the product suite had provided and continues to provide me while helping customers achieve success.
I completely understand why customers are reluctant to spend money on application assessments. That does not change the fact that you need to pay for the oil change at your car dealership.
There are many ways to conduct application assessments and it does not have to be an expensive ordeal. For example, Stratusphere UX, from Liquidware Labs is available as a trial version. The appliance can be downloaded and configured within a few hours. The data collected from the trial period could be leveraged to make real world decisions. The Liquidware Labs community, including partners would be more than happy to help with this kind of effort.
For more of an enterprise level deployment, best practices suggest to configure the Stratusphere UX environment to analyze in a parallel effort, alongside other EUC initiatives. We often recommend that the application assessment should last at a minimum for the duration of the migration project. Enterprise customers often leverage the tool to establish baselines through various stages of the project to ensure customer / end user satisfaction.
Ultimately, the application assessment should be a component of a much larger effort to baseline and measure performance as a means to deliver the appropriate user experience. This is where Stratusphere UX excels, and where you can ensure a solid footting to evolve your application strategy. Stay tuned for additional information about how Stratusphere UX can assist with User Experience modeling and analysis.
My next blog will focus on the importance and challenges surrounding application compatibilities with respect to application assessments.