IT transformation fatigue? Time to bust those big bang blues

As an industry analyst, you always want your questions answered openly, confidently and convincingly when receiving a briefing from an IT vendor. Unfortunately, however, this doesn’t always happen, especially if the spokesperson is working from a script and constantly trying to evade, obfuscate, misdirect and/or bridge to one of their pre-prepared messages. 

But none of this was a problem when we spoke with Justin Pickup, director and founder of ManagementStudio, during a session in which he was giving us an introduction to his company and its solution. Throughout the conversation, we felt we were having a genuine exchange, and when I later discussed it with my colleague, Tony Lock, we both agreed that we had learned a lot, and not just about what ManagementStudio offers. 

Comparing notes

We started by sharing our experiences as three seasoned IT pros of how migration projects have been handled over the years, and how things have been changing. 

Pickup observed: “Organisations are having to re-think their approach to IT management to meet the demands of Evergreen IT, a management approach that involves making small, iterative updates to IT systems on an ongoing basis rather than relying on isolated big bang migrations.”

The reference to big bang migrations triggered my own thoughts of desktop migration projects. I remember one program manager, in reference to their move from Windows 7 to 10, telling me during a research interview that pretty much everyone involved in the previous XP to 7 migration had moved on. He also sadly confessed that all of the prep-work done last time around – equipment and application discovery, user segmentation, usage pattern analysis, various mapping and planning exercises, etc – were all wildly out-of-date, which meant doing the same work all over from scratch. 

Now imagine all of the other deployment, migration and transformation projects that will have taken place between those huge migration programmes – mobile devices and apps, cloud service adoption, rationalisation to clear up cloud sprawl, and so on. Each one of these, regardless of scale, would have involved similar preparation and execution activity, and in theory could have reused all that discovery, segmentation and mapping data – if only it was up-to-date and accessible. 

Zooming out, across organisations big and small, a lot of wheels are routinely reinvented, plus data gathering and mapping exercises repeated. And as the speed, frequency and interconnectedness of change initiatives escalates, there comes a point when it makes more sense to think in terms of continuous change and transformation rather than one-off discrete projects. This is the core principle that underpins ManagementStudio’s raison d’être.

The ManagementStudio solution

On the offering itself, Pickup summed it up like this: “In a nutshell, ManagementStudio is a comprehensive platform that helps organisations manage and optimise their IT environments. It does this by integrating with existing systems like Active Directory, SCCM, and Intune, pulling in data about users, devices, and applications. This data is then used to streamline management processes, automate workflows, and provide the insights needed to drive IT transformation, upgrade and migration activity, as well as ongoing operations.”

According to Pickup, some of the key use cases include hardware and OS refresh initiatives, data centre and cloud migrations, application lifecycle management, merger and acquisition integration, building moves, and disaster recovery planning. He added: “The platform provides a centralised way to manage these complex, often interrelated initiatives, ensuring that the right data is available to make informed decisions and that processes are streamlined and automated wherever possible.”

Some key clarifications that emerged from our Q&A during the briefing included:

  • ManagementStudio is agentless, leveraging data from existing agents and systems rather than installing its own. This simplifies deployment and reduces management overhead.
  • The platform has strong capabilities in application rationalisation and management. It can automate application mapping to users and devices, identify redundant or unused applications, then streamline testing and deployment processes.
  • In terms of automation, ManagementStudio can trigger actions based on data conditions (e.g., automatically deploying an application when a user is added to a certain AD group), streamline complex workflows, and integrate with external systems via APIs.
  • The data model is extensible, allowing organisations to add their own custom data fields and populate them from other systems such as HRM. This data can then be leveraged for targeted communications (including scheduled or event-driven email automation), user surveys, etc.
  • While focused on Microsoft environments (AD, SCCM, Intune, etc.), the platform is not limited to Windows. It can handle other platforms and cloud environments as part of broader migration and modernisation initiatives.
  • Reporting and analytics are tuned for purpose and context, with the ability to create custom dashboards, do deep data mining, and send output to Power BI for further analysis and visualisation.
  • The platform is designed for collaboration, with features for managing tasks, tracking issues, and ensuring all stakeholders are working from a consistent data set and process framework.

Based on the above, comparisons with a range of other vendors and solutions might come to mind, depending which lens you look through. This is worth considering further.

Positioning ManagementStudio in the overall marketplace

In our view, ManagementStudio occupies an arguably unique position in the IT management landscape. While it shares some capabilities with broad IT service management (ITSM) platforms like ServiceNow and BMC Remedy, and IT operations management (ITOM) tools like Microsoft SCCM and Tanium, its focus is squarely on enabling strategic IT transformation and ongoing optimisation. 

To put it another way, ManagementStudio is less about general IT service delivery and more about providing a command centre for planning, executing, and optimising major and incremental change and transformation efforts. In this sense, ManagementStudio is perhaps more comparable to niche players in the transformation space, like Juriba’s Dashworks or TransitionManager. ManagementStudio at least holds its own in this context and many customers will see advantages in its core philosophy and holistic 360 degree approach. 

Who is the solution ultimately for?

The ideal customer for ManagementStudio is likely to be a large enterprise with a complex Microsoft-centric IT environment, facing significant and ongoing transformation challenges. They may have used ITSM tools like ServiceNow for general service delivery, but find them too broad and complex for the specific needs of transformation projects. They may have point tools for specific initiatives, but desire a more integrated, data-driven approach to pull everything together.

Beyond technical fit, cultural alignment is key, and ManagementStudio’s focus on pragmatic, iterative transformation – what Pickup refers to as “Continuous Transformation” – will resonate with organisations that have grown weary of grand visions and one-off big bang projects. It’s down-to-earth, transparent approach – evident in Pickup’s willingness to candidly discuss both strengths and limitations – will also appeal to those who value realism over rhetoric.

Data Center
Data Management