Why and how to collaborate on Windows 10 app updates

Another large migration of enterprise devices to Windows 10 has begun, and planning/deployment is commencing in most organizations.

Many conversations I’ve had on this focus on features, compatibility and readiness for migration.  These are great discussions to have — but the answers need to be enabled by an increasingly weak and fragmented collaboration between IT, Business App Leads, Service Partners and the owners of the App Code.

In a recent post, I discussed the fact that some enterprises are considering Windows 10 Long Term Servicing branch to minimize app coding updates. In a different post, I shared that the “problem apps” for Windows 10 make up 1% of the app estate.

The impact of both inappropriate selection of the Windows 10 branch and app incompatibility can be reduced by re-invigorating collaboration, which in many cases looks something like this (with varying degrees of effective collaboration along each arrow):

Application Ownership Interactions

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. The trouble is, some of these apps will have lost their owners through the natural attrition of employees.

The second key to collaboration is with the code owner. This could be internal or an independent software vendor. Increasingly, apps are commodity items that an individual enterprise has little influence over. In some cases, release cadence for apps is becoming daily or weekly. Advice here is to collaborate directly where possible. If not possible, enterprise IT should use more public forums with the code owner’s product managers.

The third element is the need to decouple the underlying operating system from the app. Two approaches are to virtualize the app or to design the app in such a way that minimizes compatibility issues with future operating system changes. 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.).

App Governance Forum

My view is that 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? 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 form the foundational requirements in my view. With these in mind, organizations can concentrate on building appropriate collaboration to minimise the impact of the 1% of apps and, for the 99% of apps, ensure they fit modern work styles.

Check out the rest of this series here:

  1. Windows 10 Feature Releases
  2. 99% Compatible – a 1% challenge for Windows 10 Compatibility

Stu-Downes

Stu Downes is a Distinguished Engineer in DXC’s Workplace & Mobility offering group. Stu’s role working with product management, industry analysts, key clients and partners gives him a unique view of market trends and client needs. Stu has held a number of roles delivering, designing and leading solutions and products that make people more productive and businesses more effective. He is now shaping workplace products that enable the hyper-productive digital workplace.

 

 

RELATED LINKS

Understanding the Windows 10 feature release model

Windows 10 journeys: A starter kit

What matters most to today’s digital workplace? Context

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