Bringing an ageing IT system up to date requires a carefully prepared strategy, writes KERI McCOOL
Today, companies must deliver a strong digital experience to engage customers, but complex legacy technology is often a significant barrier to digital transformation. Modernising legacy systems is now more important than ever if organisations are to stay relevant and maintain and improve their competitive edge.
A legacy system relates to an outdated computer system, parts of which are still needed in a business and in use. While such modernisation comes with a wealth of benefits – reduced cost of ownership, quicker to market and enhanced security to name but a few – it can be extremely complicated to fulfil.
It also requires a significant amount of effort, time, resource and investment to complete successfully. According to research conducted by Coleman Parkes, 74% of organisations which embark on a legacy modernisation project fail to complete it.
Many of these projects stall or fail completely and, more often than not, the reasons for doing so are internal factors, all within a company’s control. However, many of the common pitfalls can be avoided if you plan your strategy and approach properly.
Four reasons IT legacy modernisation projects fail and what to do about It
- Disconnected leadership teams
Collaboration is absolutely essential to successful modernisation. Technical teams must ensure that senior leadership see the value and broader business impact of these efforts in terms they can understand. Without full commitment and buy-in from the C-Suite, these projects run the risk of complete failure.
- Lack of understanding
Choosing the right path to modernisation is critical, with several options to choose from (Gartner identifies 7 legacy modernisation options – encapsulate, re-host, re-platform, re-factor, re-architecture-build, replace). Understanding the optimum route for your organisation depends on the problems you are trying to solve, your budget and timescales.
Before embarking on a legacy modernisation project, it is imperative that you fully understand your objectives and the options available to as well as the risk-to-reward ratio associated with each.
- A limited, non-inclusive discovery phase
The planning phase for a modernisation project requires input from multiple stakeholders in the organisation such as technical architects, business analysts, business owners and security experts.
Sometimes the biggest challenge is receiving sufficient input concerning legacy systems. Every effort needs to be made to understand these systems’ design and dependencies, even if the people who have written the applications and logic are no longer in the business.
- Inflexible architecture
Organisations need a flexible architecture that can adapt to a fast-changing business environment so they can offer competitive, relevant services and remain attractive to their target audience.
A flexible architecture means the design can accommodate a variety of different workflows. It is worthwhile to invest the time to build a map of how processes, technology integrations, and onboarding are working today and how they might change and be implemented in the future.
If you are thorough in the strategy and planning stage of your project and you secure the buy in from relevant business leaders, you minimise the risks associated with your legacy modernisation project and increase your chance of success.
Once you have the buy in and a well thought out strategy in place, it is imperative that you keep reviewing that strategy, taking external and internal factors into account and evolving your strategy and approach when required.
By doing this, an organisation gives itself the best chance of success, staying ahead of the competition while fully satisfying the needs of its customers.
Keri McCool is Marketing Manager at Exception, a digital services and solutions provider dedicated to helping organisations unlock value and create opportunity through the power of technology