Uniting Care shifts application management from spreadsheets to the cloud

For the first time, the organisation has complete transparency over how many applications exist in its portfolio, as well as the cost and risks associated with them.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

For Uniting Care, an organisation that supports more than 450,000 people across 460 locations in Australia through its private hospitals, residential aged care homes, foster care homes, and retirement villages, relying on spreadsheets to keep track of its application portfolio was no longer viable.  

Prompted by the organisation's 2030 vision to invest further in its facilities and to merge all brands under the single Uniting Care umbrella, Uniting Care began in 2018 to look at alternative options.

It first started by undertaking a stocktake of its applications with the help of a managed service provider. The only problem with that was the provider at the time also relied on spreadsheets.

Uniting Care Queensland architecture services manager Ross Francis described that the "mountains of spreadsheets" created a "spiralling complexity" for the organisation, pointing out how it did not know exactly how many applications it had in its portfolio across all the different sectors, the cost of them, or the risks associated with those applications.

It wasn't until last December when Uniting Care worked with Citadel to carry out a four-week proof of value using LeanIX did the organisation gain visibility of its application portfolio for the first time.

"We literally took the information that we had in those spreadsheets and uploaded it into the architectural repository of LeanIX … we learnt from seeing the reports our data was actually quite dirty. There wasn't a high data quality element to it," Francis said, speaking during the digital APAC Gartner IT Symposium 2020 this week.

At the same time, LeanIX has given the organisation access to information about the technology risks associated with its applications, as well as the costs of running them.  

"What we really got a view of was where that risk was for each of our sectors across our organisation. In hospitals we now understand what the risk is there, we understand in our aged care and community sector service what the risk is there, and we also understand in our family and disabilities area what the risk is there," Francis said.

"Those reports are now extremely easy to produce. Before, you'd be spending hours just to produce a spreadsheet to provide a report back to the leadership team about what our actual risk is in any one of those areas."

While Francis admitted there was still a long way to go as Uniting Care still does not have a complete picture of how many applications it has in its portfolio, he believes what has been done so far is a vast improvement from the systems that were in place previously.

At last count, the organisation has approximately 280 known applications, 350 different IT components, and is engaged with 190 different application providers.  

"We're already seeing some discovery reductions. We're seeing a willingness to improve the information that we hold about our applications, and so that's great from a view of understanding how complex things are when things change, how that change feeds back into our portfolio," he said.

Some of the next steps for Uniting Care, Francis said, will be to integrate its business process repository with its application portfolio and adopt a self-service model for its 17,000 employees.

Plus, there also plans to transition from a traditional database server to the cloud. 

"That's a big journey that we're just about to start but because we've got so much VMware onboarding in our datacentre today, it's really a great lift and shift approach for us to get to the cloud, and really adopt in time or optimise into those services as we go forward," Francis said.

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