The number of GIS applications has increased dramatically in recent years. Consequently, the consequences of incomplete management are also increasing rapidly. As far as I am concerned, the GIS world can still make huge gains in the area of lifecycle management. In this blog, I offer a few tips for improving the LCM of geographic information systems.
Demand for Lifecycle Management for GIS is growing
Managing the full lifecycle of an application from implementation to phase-out: that's my definition of lifecycle management. It's a fairly common term that, as far as I'm concerned, needs no extensive explanation. I like to give my take on the rapid increase in demand for geographic applications and the consequences of that growth:
There are many duplicate map applications being developed;
The removal of applications is not always fully completed;
Development of duplicate map applications
Collaboration is a job in itself. This plays out in all organizations that have a role in the public domain. The number of teams, departments and external stakeholders is large. So are the number of aspects that affect capabilities. Consider, for example, legal issues, technical complications and the behavior of individual employees.
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In the current GIS landscape of many companies, I see many duplicate applications being developed. It's no exception that there are five applications running almost simultaneously in the same organization that do roughly the same thing, but all tell a slightly different story. You thereby create the question: which card is telling the truth? You don't have this problem if you have one unique source and put the energy into optimizing that source. A map is a source of information on the basis of which you can make decisions. The focus should be on that, not on the question "Is this information accurate?"
Do you need a new map application? Then my advice is: first make a complete overview of the GIS applications used within your organization. Map which functionalities overlap and whether the visualized data differs per application. Is that the case? Then first strive for one truth for each issue within the existing GIS applications.
Removal of map applications occurs incompletely
The final step of Lifecycle Management is not always completed carefully in my experience. The GIS world is rapidly expanding, so the focus is on exploring new possibilities. Within GIS teams, this creates positive energy and creativity. As a result, the legacy situation is overlooked. In practice, I see more often that unused (versions of) map applications are still running on (cloud) servers.
In my experience, there are a number of causes that the last step of LCM is forgotten:
The GIS world is focused on innovating, developing and evolving. I see that management in many organizations is an underachiever;
GIS is used within many organizations by many different departments, while often not using the same data. This makes monitoring difficult;
Many organizations (still) do not consider their GIS processes to be business-critical and therefore no investment is made in them;
Comprehensive knowledge about ArcGIS Enterprise and FME Flow is lacking in many organizations (because there is no investment in GIS);
Best practice: working with multiple GIS applications
Geographic information systems have become central to organizations with a role in outdoor space in recent years. In my view, the vision of GIS has not grown with them everywhere. I feel that the idea that GIS is a niche is still alive, while in practice it has already outgrown the niche. As far as I am concerned, a best practice for GIS starts with a clear vision. Describe what is expected of each team or department regarding the management of GIS maps, viewers and applications. It's also important to set clear guidelines for innovation, development and follow-through. But above all, don't forget the last step of your lifecycle management!