The house was the residence of Sarah Winchester, the widow of William Wirt Winchester, and the heiress of the Winchester firearms company. Sarah Winchester was born and got married in Connecticut. She had a daughter but the baby died after only a few weeks. Sadly, her husband died fifteen years later, which left Sarah with an immense fortune.
After her husband’s death, Sarah saw a psychic who told her that her family was cursed by all the spirits of the people killed by Winchester rifles, and she had to move west and build a house there for the spirits.
Sarah Winchester used her fortune to build this house, but the home contains numerous oddities such as stairs that go nowhere, doors that open into walls, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs with odd-sized risers.
The popular belief is that Sarah Winchester built the house this way to confuse ghosts killed by Winchester rifles. In fact, although she had over 145 builders, she did not hire an architect.
This is exactly the same for IT architecture. If you don’t properly manage your IT portfolio, your IT might end up resembling the Winchester Mystery House with redundant IT assets not properly covering business needs.
The globalization of business and repeated mergers & acquisitions are amongst the factors that could lead to a situation where you are no longer able to appropriately structure your IT assets, a bit like the Winchester Mystery House.
This could very easily result in an increase of maintenance costs and a loss of agility that prevent you from supporting new business initiatives.
Like an architect would have helped Sarah build a more efficient and practical house, an IT portfolio management solution will help you take control of your IT landscape.
An IT portfolio management framework has three phases: the first phase consist of taking an inventory of your IT assets using multiple criteria such as business relevance, costs, links to supported business processes, and risks. Some solutions can include modeling capabilities that can accurately describe your application architecture, data, and infrastructure to let you see the different layers of your IT systems. With this inventory, you will have an exact blueprint of your IT Architecture.
After the inventory phase, you perform the assessment of these assets to better understand their value and their relevance to the business. When performing this assessment, you might get rid of some IT assets, or invest in more valuable assets. This will help you streamline your IT portfolio, and therefore gain agility.
After the assessment phase, you can perform the transformation of your IT portfolio. The best practice is to assess and compare several transformation plans and select the best one based on criteria relevant to your organization, such as costs or various types of risks. You can also develop and model a target IT architecture with specialized tools, and analyze the gaps between your current and future IT organization.
To get back to the Winchester Mystery House, the house was severely hit by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and was left unrepaired after the event. This is why you should also manage IT obsolescence very carefully. Again, there are tools that contain an exhaustive library of technology vendor support lifecycles, that when included in IT portfolio management tools, help you leverage this information to better upgrade you IT landscape.
By implementing an IT Portfolio Management solution you will be able to:
And hopefully the architecture of your IT landscape will not look like the Winchester Mystery House!
name: Winchester Mystery House Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, 571113