Windows 10: The importance of collaboration on app updates

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Another large migration of enterprise devices to Windows 10 has started and planning/deployment is commencing in most organizations.  Many conversations on plans for Windows 10 focus on features, compatibility and readiness for migration.  Great discussions to have but they need to be enabled by an important and increasingly weak and fragmented collaboration between IT, Business App Leads, Service Partners and the owners of the App Code.  In the first post in the series we discussed the fact that some enterprises are considering Windows 10 Long Term Servicing branch to minimize app coding updates.  In the second post of this series we discussed that the problem apps for Windows 10 are 1% of the app estate.  The impact of both these challenges, inappropriate selection of Windows 10 branch and app compatibility, can be reduced by re-invigorating collaboration which in many cases looks something like this (with varying degrees of effective collaboration along each arrow):

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To improve collaboration relationships are key.  IT needs to work on building a stronger relationship with the business.  Identifying the owners of apps in the business and engaging in conversation is key – trouble is some of these apps will have lost their owners through natural attrition of people.

The second key collaboration is with the code owner.  This could be internal or an ISV.  Some code owners the enterprise will be able to influence, increasingly apps are commodity items that an individual enterprise has little influence over and in some cases release cadence for apps is becoming a daily or weekly update.  Advice here is to collaborate directly where possible or where this is not possible use more public forums with the code owner’s product managers.

The third element is the need to de-couple the underlying operating system from the app.  Approaches to virtualize the app or to design the app in such a way to minimise the compatibility issues with future operating system changes are 2 of the approaches.  Each app that needs to be retained should be considered for modernization to include new ways of interacting with the app (touch, pen, appropriate screen size support etc.).

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My view is a number of business units (or the entire enterprise depending upon scale) should form App Governance Forums to provide the app investment focus.  This will no-doubt uncover app plans that are presently hidden from IT and enable speedier deployment of new features and functions.  In a world where app updates and OS updates are moving from years to weeks or days this focus is an absolute requirement.

What needs to be considered in the overall plan for any app estate?

Our focus needs to be how do we update apps?  The update cycle requires a few key elements:

  1. Understand what we have
  2. Understand who owns the app functionality and who owns the budget
  3. Develop a roadmap for those apps
  4. Make plans for app modernization.  For optimal user experience we need to understand how to convert apps to become more universal (i.e. operate on multiple screen-sizes and support touch/pen input where appropriate).
  5. Where appropriate have a cross OS policy for apps to allow a unified device experience from iOS, Windows and Android (I realize that isn’t equal to fidelity of app features across operating systems).
  6. Complete the business case and budget approvals to update apps and the backend application services that the apps access.
  7. Publish a clear roadmap for apps and back-end applications.
  8. Repeat the process but with browser/browser add-ons rather and app as the prime consideration.

These points are the foundation requirements in my view and alongside these organizations can concentrate on building appropriate collaboration to minimise the impact of the 1% of apps and for the 99% of apps ensure that these are fit for modern work styles.

This blog post is part of a short series of blog posts:

  • Windows 10: The importance of collaboration on app updates (This post)

 

 

 

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