Informing Investment Decisions with Sound Assessment Data

October 17, 2018 |

To effectively manage investments in an organization’s technology stack, decision makers need a clear understanding of its software tools and technical infrastructure and how they are — and are not — meeting user expectations and needs.

Challenging questions arise when planning the approach to gathering reliable, up-to-date information on the experiences and perspectives of users of those tools:

  • What information is needed to make good investment decisions? Who makes those decisions?
  • How do we define “software tools”? What software do we assess?
  • What assessment questions should be asked, and to what user groups?
  • How can data be consistently and quickly collected and stored across enterprise functions and business lines?
  • What analytics are needed to inform investment and planning decisions?

Working with the Lincoln Financial Group, we addressed these challenges and built a comprehensive enterprise application assessment solution — and jumpstarted progress towards true Application Portfolio Management.

Defining the Challenge

Lincoln Financial Group and its subsidiary companies offer insurance and investment management services to customers nationwide, with primary offerings in life insurance, annuities, retirement plan services, and employee group benefits.

To clearly inform Lincoln’s technology investment strategy, its IT team needed to know how well its application stack was supporting — and not supporting — the company’s breadth of financial services. Business and technology assessments, along with an enterprise data mart for readily accessible results, would inform that understanding.

Assessments included business user evaluation of system usability and capabilities, as well as technology stakeholder views of system components, support, and scalability. And, custom algorithms generated an overall numeric rating for each application.

But, to confidently inform technology investment planning, Lincoln determined its legacy assessment database needed an upgrade. A well-architected data mart would streamline the assessment process, accurately store and report on all evaluation responses and data algorithms, and improve user experiences with the assessment process (and, in turn, strengthen validity of responses).

Crafting a Solution through Investigative Architecture

To redesign Lincoln’s application assessment approach and tool, we established mutual agreement and definition of a minimum viable product. This entailed elicitation of well-defined requirements and implementation priorities from both business and technical stakeholders.

To inform a solution for the assessment tool and associated data mart, we produced technical diagrams that included:

  • logical and physical diagrams
  • conceptual diagrams
  • data flows and data context diagrams
  • deployment and infrastructure diagrams

These diagrams empowered the IT team to make decisions on hosting, configuration, and security of the application assessment solution in the future-state environment.

All requirements and diagrams were packaged into a comprehensive solution approach, that also included use cases, technical delivery methodology, and a delivery roadmap.

Executing the Plan

To oversee the approach and execute the plan, we managed work of Lincoln’s development and quality assurance teams, leveraging an established Agile development tool to categorize use cases, manage sprints, and assign tasks. We kept the upgrade project on-track and regularly reported status to leadership and stakeholders.

Partnering with Systems Flow, Lincoln addressed business and technology need with a feature-rich, integrated application assessment solution and a roadmap for future enhancement — all simply based on solid business requirements, a clear picture of the technology landscape, and a cohesive implementation plan.

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