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16 Oct 2023
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Can You Perform Mobile App Rationalization Without Examining the Code?

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By Tyrone Showers
Co-Founder Taliferro


Mobile app rationalization—the process of reducing the portfolio of mobile applications within an organization—has been a topic of increasing interest for companies striving for operational efficiencies and cost-effectiveness. Typically, this involves a comprehensive assessment, ranging from user metrics to underlying code. But is it possible to achieve rationalization without diving into the codebase? The short answer is yes. However, the question that should follow is, should you? This article seeks to elucidate how an organization can approach mobile app rationalization without scrutinizing the code and evaluates the implications of this course of action.

Rationalization sans Code Examination: Is It Feasible?

Indeed, it is possible to undertake a rationalization effort without delving into the code. Organizations can lean on parameters like user engagement metrics, business value delivered, maintenance costs, and the frequency of usage. By examining these quantitative and qualitative factors, a general overview of the utility and effectiveness of various apps can be constructed. Yet, this surface-level examination can only tell part of the story.

The Pitfalls of Ignoring the Codebase

While foregoing code examination may appear efficient, it harbors certain pitfalls:

Limited Insight Into Technical Debt

An app might be heavily used and integral to business operations, but if the code quality is subpar, it could be accumulating technical debt. Neglecting this aspect may result in higher costs down the line when the app demands extensive refactoring or even total redevelopment.

Security Vulnerabilities

Without a thorough code review, hidden security vulnerabilities that could expose sensitive data or disrupt operations may go unnoticed. These vulnerabilities could compromise not only the specific app but also other interconnected systems within the organization.

Resource Allocation

A poorly written codebase could be consuming more resources than necessary, affecting system performance and incurring additional operational costs. Such inefficiencies may not be visible through mere operational or user metrics but would be glaringly obvious to anyone reviewing the code.

Quantifying Rationalization Without Code Inspection

If you decide to proceed without a code review, quantifying rationalization becomes more reliant on operational metrics and business value indicators. This might include:

  • User Engagement Metrics: Low user adoption or high abandonment rates might indicate the app is not delivering the expected value or user experience.
  • Operational Costs: If the maintenance costs outweigh the value generated by the app, it's a likely candidate for rationalization.
  • Business Alignment: Some apps may not align well with current business objectives and may be redundant, making them ideal candidates for elimination or consolidation.

Conclusion: A Nuanced Approach

While it is possible to conduct mobile app rationalization without code inspection, doing so leaves gaps in the understanding of the application's health, security, and efficiency. Therefore, while it's feasible, it may not be advisable in most cases, especially for organizations aiming for a more comprehensive and long-term strategy.

If code review is impractical due to time or resource constraints, companies should at least consider a hybrid approach. This could involve an initial rationalization based on business and operational metrics, followed by a more thorough examination of the code for apps that remain in the portfolio after the initial culling.

Thus, in the quest for operational efficiency and effective resource allocation, skimming the surface might offer quick insights, but a deeper dive could avert potential crises and provide a roadmap for sustainable success.

Tyrone Showers