A Smarter Approach to Legacy System Modernization

22 December 2020

Secure and modern systems are essential to keep up with evolving customer expectations. The question this raises is, how do you modernize your legacy systems conveniently and seamlessly?

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Of even greater importance is why and when your business can bridge the gap and make software modernization real?

In this article, we’ll look at the benefits of updating your legacy systems, the step-by-step process, and how to overcome any obstacles. 

First things First: What is a Legacy System?

Before discussing modernization benefits, it’s critical to understand the meaning of “legacy systems.” Legacy doesn’t always mean an old system. It’s not about the date of manufacture or when you procured the equipment.

The more functional definition is “any piece of software, incumbent technology, or an entire system that impedes or slows down an organization’s potential to grow, shift, and adapt in the face of changing market dynamics.”

So, if you have insufficient IT support that doesn’t meet the organization’s needs, then that becomes a legacy system. The same applies if the new software you bought the other day, doesn’t integrate with the industry’s latest solutions or systems. It becomes a legacy system, despite the age.

Legacy system modernization means updating all or part of your IT stack to better support your business processes and goals.

Why Modernize Legacy Systems

Modernizing legacy software comes with a ton of benefits for the organization. First and foremost, it brings your entire enterprise up to speed with the digital environment. Secondly, it supports digital transformation.

According to Logicalis, 4-in-10 CIOs consider complex legacy systems as a significant barrier to true digital transformation. At least half believe their organizations need to either replace or adapt the existing systems to overcome this obstacle.

Other key benefits of legacy system modernization include;

  • Better revenue: Although updating legacy systems can be costly, once you take the plunge, your organization is guaranteed reduced downtime and expenses, which translates to more profits.
  • Improved IT security: Legacy systems are almost always less secure from cyber-attacks, malware, and social engineering hacks. Many of these vulnerabilities can be closed by updating legacy systems and security protocols.
  • Greater software integration: Nearly all modern enterprise software rely on third-party integrations. Unfortunately, connecting legacy systems to third-party tools and services requires a great deal of coding and customization. Legacy system updates remove this hurdle.
  • Increased organizational agility: Organizational agility is the organization’s readiness to adapt and innovate to maintain a competitive edge. The only way to remain agile is to bring your legacy IT systems and software up to date.

Common Modernization Obstacles

Despite the many benefits, legacy system modernization is an arduous process that can be frustrating from start to finish. Common obstacles include;

  • Compatibility issues: This especially applies when replacing part of rather than the entire IT system. Matching new data formats with the new system can be a massive challenge.
  • Cost constraints: IT system modernization can be an expensive undertaking. The bigger the update, the costlier the process.
  • Time challenges: First off, legacy system modernization is a time-consuming process. It can take months. More importantly, it often means prioritizing the modernization over other existing projects, potentially resulting in less time spent in current production.
  • Skills shortage: Migrating data to modern platforms requires remarkable technical skill. Finding the required personnel in the right numbers can be tough.

A Smarter Approach – Step-by-Step Process

The following streamlined modernization approach can help you achieve legacy system update smoothly;

  • Assess the condition of your legacy system

The evaluation step is a critical stage of the legacy system modernization process. It will help you answer pertinent questions, including the objectives, what approach to adopt, and the estimated time and cost of the modernization.

You’ll need two assessments – a business evaluation and a technical evaluation. A business evaluation shows the shortcomings of the IT system as it relates to business processes. Technical review, meanwhile, focuses on source code, app stability, and redundancy determination.

  • Begin with the minimum viable product (MVP) 

The MVP approach works because it implements change while protecting your business and users’ most important elements. In essence, it prevents you from overloading on new features, enabling you to upgrade in a more streamlined manner.

The MVP approach is used for upgrade approval and application testing before actual modernization begins.

  • Identify the best modernization solution for your business

There are four broad legacy system modernization approaches;

  • Migration
  • So nothing and retain
  • Legacy application replacement
  • Total re-engineering.

Total reengineering has the highest impact on business outcomes. But it’s also the most complex modernization approach.

Also known as re-architecting, total reengineering enables you to introduce new technologies, platforms, and systems that match your business needs and objectives. It allows businesses to create a high-quality application with optimized and improved usability.

  • Plan for data migration 

Data migration is the heart of any legacy system modernization effort as it ensures business continuity. So, you must handle the process with extreme caution. A seamless transfer of clean data from the legacy system to the modern platform is necessary. It would be best if you also avoid redundancy and data loss.

The best way to approach the process is incremental migration. It’s generally less painful and doesn’t disrupt any business processes. Gradual data migration is also more comfortable for workers and end-users.

  • Introduce automation 

As mentioned earlier, manually modifying an entire application can be unimaginably tedious. Besides, it leaves room for error.

That’s where automation comes in handy. As you implement the updates, leverage automation to complete the process faster and with fewer blunders. Modernization processes that you can automate include application evaluation, data migration, and deployment.

What Are You Waiting For?

Legacy system modernization is a necessity you can’t escape. If you don’t do it today, you’re merely postponing the task – you must do it at some point. Otherwise, you’re sure to lose your competitive edge and potentially the business.

So, why not roll up your sleeve and give it a go? If you have any problems, you can always reach out to NIX Solutions for help.