In this fast-faced technological world, more and more companies are required to deliver digital experience to customers and maximize productivity. However, one of the well-known barriers to the change is reliance on the legacy applications or systems. These legacy applications are weak part of the corporate digital chain and needs to be carefully transformed. The complexity of the legacy applications is also a barrier for digital transformation. In those scenarios how companies go about transforming their legacy applications. A single step switch of transformation is possible, even at times we advocate transforming all core applications to digitalization. This is driven mostly at a corporate level when complete transformation is sought. Even when companies are willing to spend significant amounts of investment for modernization of legacy applications, it needs a careful planning so as in not to disrupt the existing operational fabric of organizations. A step by step approach of system modernization is what is needed in those scenarios.

The legacy modernization consists of application modernization, Business model transformation, Technology upgrade and finally Deployment modernization. In the last two blogs on this series I have highlighted use of digital transformation for User Experience and Business model Transformations and how user experience is needed to be considered while designing future state scenarios. In this 3rd part of the series I would like to cover Operational management of existing legacy systems and how to go about transforming the same.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In today’s conditions, companies are increasing facing the need to go digital however, are constrained by requirement to modernize only selected IT domains for which critical support is needed, or critical applications which are needed for operation or which require modernization, or required to done at the time bound manner. Most importantly companies do not want to incur huge operational risk and are have a manageable complexity. How to go about achieving transformation of the same? The approach for modernization is either a step by step approach or complete transformation management. Getting into complete landscape transformation for legacy application poses considerable challenges in terms of resources, budget, and another complex requirement. When companies see for step by step approach modernization of front-end customer facing applications and slowly moving stabilization of backend transactional systems is needed. Companies can go about implementation of legacy system modernization approach without going into a full fledge big bang approach of transformation. The legacy modernization framework consists of applying various models like Security model optimization, data modernization, mobility, devops and artificial intelligence.  

The first and fore most legacy applications are required to be assessed for complexity of the application, Return on Investment of such applications, nature of application operation like cloud based or on premise including environmental considerations. Besides these core assessment criteria cost also needed to be taken into consideration.  A clear understanding of application complexity and availability of run books for management of unforeseen scenarios is needed to be considered. The criteria for such changes should not be biased towards optimization of cost, rather it should be based on business continuity and stability of operations in the longer run.

Various optimization methods for each sub area mentioned above like ROI, Cloud and other areas depend on individual playbooks. Like optimization of cloud for legacy applications operation a separate topic to be dealt. There are excellent guidance books available for cloud optimization for example from Gartner, 2020. Combination of such tools or guidance documents can be considered for optimization of cloud like elimination of redundant segments or optimization etc. Similarly, for calculation of Return on Investment and if applications can be operated at capital-intensive on-premise platform or needed to be moved to more manageable cloud is can also be assessed. Some of the other optimization techniques suggested above for example optimization of business process and moving the process to similar applications which offers sizeable allowance can also be considered.   

The modernization of legacy applications offers a considerable benefit in terms of service availability, efficiency in the operations, speed of delivery, data driven decision making, security management etc. The path for embarking into this journey can best be managed by identifying the right internal or external partners and taking a single step at a time.  To conclude the legacy system modernization should not have a single objective of reducing the costs rather it should aim at generating business benefit, building resilience and taking the organizations to the next level to make them confident of full-fledged organizational transformation.

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