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May 8, 2024
(Updated on
Apr 25, 2024

Modernizing Legacy Applications: A Phased Approach to Transformation

Most of the organizations' applications were developed some years ago and can't respond to new or growing business needs; therefore, they are archaic, inefficient, and expensive for their maintenance as new technological advances emerge. In order to remain competitive, businesses need to modernize old application systems. It is a process in which an organization moves from traditional legacy systems to technologies that are made of cloud, mobile, and AI.

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When updating old applications, there are many advantages in the form of improved agility, reduced costs, and better service to customers. Good planning and execution lead to a successful outcome, though. This article lays out a comprehensive plan for how to modernize legacy systems in the most effective way possible.

Assess the Current State of Legacy Applications

This is the first step that will be taken in assessing the current state of legacy applications. This is going to include a thorough look over all existing systems to really understand what is there, prior to making any changes.

But generally, the key activities include:

  • Creating a catalogue that lists what each legacy application does.
  • Learning the technology to see how it is architected and how data is stored.
  • Mapping how these systems connect and share information
  • Documenting in case an issue is identified, such as performance, stability, or security.
  • Estimating the time and budgets required for continued maintenance and support efforts
  • Prioritizing which applications are most critical to running your core business operations.

This assessment will make it clear exactly which of those legacy systems are the highest priority and need to be addressed first based on business needs, technical limitations, and other factors. It also builds the rationale of why modernization is required in terms of quantifying the hard costs, risks, and frustrations of keeping outdated systems. Assembling this full picture takes diligence and know-how. Organizations have to consider bringing in the help of outside modernization experts if at all they have not developed those skills in the house; for example, using ModLogix at https://modlogix.com/ will help assess such a situation. They could validate and understand if modernization is the best way forward and shape high-level plans for the migration of these legacy platforms.

Define Modernization Goals and Objectives

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Following this, with a clear understanding of the current legacy estate, it is important to define the strategic modernization objectives and establish the practical goals. This includes a few sentences of example objectives—rather than lists—such as improving agility to support changing market needs, enhancing the customer experience through new capabilities, and reducing the total cost of ownership. The goals in this case would be specific and measurable, so it may even help to know which applications have a higher priority for modernization in the first phase.

Evaluate Options and Strategies in Modernization

Before detailing each of the above-three, it is needed to note that there are three major approaches: replatforming—migration of the legacy application on modern platforms without a change in features and data structures; refactoring—change of both legacy code and data so that it is adapted for optimization of execution and not changing external behaviour; and rebuilding the legacy applications from scratch with new, modern technologies.

Establish which applications should be replatformed, refactored, or rebuilt based on business goals, timelines, budgets, and application complexities. This is also subject to hybrid approaches.

Establish a Modernization Roadmap

Before outlining a detailed roadmap, it is important to take a phased approach to transitioning legacy apps to modern platforms. This mainly involves focusing on high-priority, low-complexity applications first, where quick wins are possible, and later scaling modernization for more complex business systems.

The next step is defining a phased roadmap for transitioning legacy apps to modern platforms:

  • Phase 1: Focus on 1-2 high-priority, low-complexity applications best suited for rapid modernization wins.
  • Phase 2: Scale modernization for another set of priority business applications.
  • Phase 3: Modernize complex, mission-critical legacy systems through longer-term initiatives.

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The roadmap outlines timelines, budgets, resources, dependencies and risks for each phase. It provides a structured plan for executing modernization programs aligned with business objectives.

With a solid roadmap in place, tackle execution by modernizing legacy applications iteratively through structured sprints. Essential activities include setting up a modernization environment and tools, migrating data and integrations, transforming code and system architecture, implementing new features, testing and ensuring quality control, training users and transitioning to a support model. Agile methodologies, DevOps culture and automation accelerate time-to-value.

Continuously Monitor and Optimize

Modernization doesn't end at launch. To maximize ROI, continuously monitor the performance of modernized applications.

  • Evaluate achievement of business goals;
  • Collect feedback from users;
  • Monitor adoption and usage metrics;
  • Assess ongoing costs vs. legacy environment;
  • Identify new opportunities for enhancements based on technological innovations or changing business needs.

Continuous monitoring and optimization help sustain momentum and extract full value from modernization efforts. Modernizing legacy systems is a complex endeavour, but following structured strategies can help maximize gains while minimizing disruption and risk. Assess, strategize, plan, execute and continuously improve are integral steps for guiding legacy apps into the modern age.

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