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Home | Newsletter | UPDATE 3 | 2017 | Migration of an Application Environment Following a Company Split
October 23, 2017

Migration of an Application Environment Following a Company Split

Company mergers and splits are constant occurrences in the life sciences. They require a restructuring not only of the organization but also its infrastructure. During a recent project, ARCONDIS demonstrated how to achieve this: when an international life sciences company split from its parent enterprise, ARCONDIS took care of the program management and migration of the entire application environment.

 

Starting point

Following the split of a company from its parent enterprise, a new technical environment had to be created, from an active directory domain to the infrastructure and application environment. The life sciences company entrusted the experienced professionals of ARCONDIS with the task of migrating all business applications to the new environment.

The most challenging part of the project: its scope was still uncertain at kick-off. The company did not have a central administration system governing all applications. In addition, the GxP status of the applications had to be verified and in some cases re-evaluated.

 

Method

Step 1: Establishing an application inventory

Every migration project needs a clean database detailing the system infrastructure. ARCONDIS’ first step was to create an application inventory and establish it as a “single point of truth” throughout the company in order to track the status of all applications for the migration and day-to-day operations. This involved the classification of each application. Categories included client/ server, desktop, Citrix and SaaS applications, and various evaluation criteria were used. Several important issues had to be clarified for the migration planning step, including dependencies on other applications and/or interfaces and planned life cycle changes (e.g. due to planned updates, functional expansions or compliance findings). In addition, the GAMP category and validation status of GxP-relevant applications had to be reassessed.

In total, 400 applications were identified and classified; 150 of them were to be migrated within the scope of the project. Approximately half of the applications are GxP-relevant and needed to be revalidated.

 

Migration Application Environment

 

Step 2: Making the program manageable

During a gargantuan undertaking such as this, it is important to keep an eye on the bigger picture rather than focusing excessively on details. ARCONDIS chose a two-step approach and first established a rough plan for the individual application categories. In order to get a better grasp on the complexity, priorities and scheduling requirements of the migration project, ARCONDIS developed a multi-level decision tree. Important criteria included external access, GxP relevance and whether or not the individual applications are core applications.

During the second step, a planning project was initiated for each category to plan the migration process for each application in detail. A separate stream was set up for especially critical applications.

Besides the structure, communication is a major success factor for programs with more than 100 participating parties. A “migration cookbook” was created to specify the entire program governance – communication, escalation, risk, issue and change management, tracking structures, reporting structures and meeting structures – and to establish platforms for the exchange.

Thanks to the intelligent planning process, the enormous endeavor gained structure. Its hundreds of individual components formed a manageable whole and a clear, comprehensible project path was revealed. This approach was convincing, to such an extent, that the management decided to expand ARCONDIS’ range of responsibilities. From then on, the program management also included the streams for servers, clients and networks. Program Manager Stefan Eckert has been responsible for the entire financial controlling and upstream coordination of the GxP Compliance ever since.

 

Step 3: Sequential migration, global roll-out

At present, the program is close to conclusion. Approximately 150 applications are being migrated and rolled out at more than ten sites.

Migration Application Environment

Half of them are GxP-relevant and subject to revalidation. The most complex part of the project is the sequential transfer of the entire infrastructure to the new environment. Once all involved components have been migrated, integration testing will help ensure compliance. It involves user accounts and peripheral devices, such as printers, that interfere with the application. To ensure that no component or interface remains untested, the project team has developed a watertight traceability matrix that traces all dependencies.

During the next and last step of the program, applications that are orphaned or no longer needed will be disabled.

 

Results

Not only did the program achieve its objective of a smooth one-to-one migration to the new environment, it also created additional benefits thanks to an intelligent migration strategy. The client will continue reaping these benefits even after the end of the program:

  • The new inventory records all applications in a central location.
  • The GxP status of every application has been determined and all gaps have been closed.
  • In order to create synergies, ARCONDIS worked with the application owners to determine the optimal point in time for life cycle changes and migration processes. The applications only had to be validated once. This made it possible to integrate new functions and optimizations into day-to-day operations with minimal disruptions.
  • The entire application landscape has been tidied up, and orphaned applications have been eliminated.

In addition, ARCONDIS is working with the same client on another project involving the introduction of ServiceNow. Thanks to the application inventory, the configuration items can be set up fast and efficiently.

Stefan Eckert


UPDATE interview with ARCONDIS project manager Stefan Eckert:

Stefan Eckert

 

Mr. Eckert, in your opinion, what are the most important success factors for a M&A‑driven migration of an application environment?

“For a program of this enormous scope, you need a solid set-up with high-quality data and a powerful scope management, as scope creep has spelt the end of many large projects in the past. The centralized application inventory and clean change management allowed us to trace relevant decisions and keep a firm handle on the scope of the project.

When setting up the program plan, never start at the level of individual applications. You won’t see the forest for the trees. Instead, establish a comprehensive strategy for the various types of software before moving on to the details. And never underestimate your communication strategy. You will need platforms for regular exchange and the management buy-in to ensure participation by all relevant stakeholders. Above all, a holistic approach with a well-coordinated team will yield success where piecemeal strategies fail.”