Why is it essential to define your goals before modernizing legacy applications?

Why is it essential to define your goals before modernizing legacy applications?

In our previous blogs, we’ve discussed why you should modernize legacy software and how to. Of all the steps outlined in the process of modernization the most important one in my view is this: Start with the goal. The goals, whether related to business or technology, determine the process of and the reasons behind modernization, in other words, the why and the how.

Many think that modernization is all about incorporating new technologies, but with technologies changing so fast and too many competing options to choose from modernization efforts might lead us to a rabbit hole that has no exit. Hence it is extremely important to have a clear idea about your goals, without which any transformation is meaningless. This blog elaborates on different questions to ponder over to define your goals and the steps to evaluate various modernization options and choose the right one.

While planning to modernize legacy applications, you may want to assess the situation first. Since the process involves analyzing the current position of the business from several perspectives, working with collaborators is an obvious choice for many. At coMakeIT, we have modernized many legacy applications for our customers. The applications range from simple web or desktop applications to complex software products and platforms. Here are some questions we usually ask our customers to understand their customers’ needs and chart the modernization plan.

1. How are your customers and their needs changing?

Modernization is primarily technical. Yet even technology companies must understand that no amount of tech knowledge or infrastructure can save a business that fails to impress its customers. The company, its modernization partners, and the tech and business teams should join their minds to understand customers’ needs and translate them into bite-sized and achievable business goals. Once the goals are clear they shouldn’t be frozen as rules but revised recurringly as the process unfolds.

Maybe your customers find your application too slow, or they don’t want to use it as an isolated solution, they want it to be integrated with other products like online payment systems, authentications, or domain-specific solutions. These expectations and integrations should be translated to business goals that are later implemented using technologies. 

2. What is making your goals difficult to achieve? And what can make them easy to reach?

The primary stumbling block for any modernization or transformation plan is seldom technology, it is usually related to people and their mindsets. Technical code is relatively easier to modernize than mindsets. Changes, even the technical ones, demand several adjustments in processes and attitudes, without which we can’t reap the benefits of the transformation.

Consider the situation where modernization requires employees to break away from some old habits like using an application instead of paper, they would initial find it cumbersome to search through the application and enter relevant information, however with time it becomes normal, but only if they endure the initial few days of discomfort and learning. Or the employees may not be used to their info systems being transparent, they may not like the idea that anyone can view and track their work now. Modernization and transformation shouldn’t scare away any business stakeholders. The management needs to convince them of the uses of modernization and assure them that it would benefit everyone. Additionally, a good and sincere marketing strategy should help any business convince its customers. The purpose of these efforts must be clear and reach all the stakeholders. 

3. Can legacy modernization open any new streams of revenue?

Any product engineering endeavour, including modernizing legacy apps, has the potential to open new revenue streams. The modernized product with basic features can be encapsulated as a stand-alone product and the customizations specific to a domain or business can be released as an extension on a new or an existing platform. This also opens an opportunity to leverage existing solutions in the market and build upon them. Along with opening new revenue streams the process also makes innovation more collaborative, easy, incremental, and more in line with customers’ or market’s needs.

One of our customers approached us for modernizing their legacy applications. After analyzing their existing product, we suggested a solution that is more agile, scalable, lightweight, and non-siloed. This solution was not built from scratch rather it leveraged the existing knowledge systems in the legacy one to create products that helped it participate in their domain-specific platforms.

A basic version of the new product was encapsulated as our client’s intellectual property and offered to the market opening new revenue streams. coMakeIT’s unique legacy modernization strategy that provides customized modernizing solutions helped the client not only in modernizing and streamlining processes but also in cutting costs and adding new revenue options.

Rebuild, Rehost, or Refactor your app, which strategy is the best?

All your deliberations when trying to answer the above three questions guide you in defining your goals that are achievable and relevant. Most modernization approaches do have some undesirable side effects and are hence risky. However, defining goals can guide you in developing an appropriate strategy for modernization.

If you are planning to expand to new customers geographically, then you can modernize your application to make it cloud native and host it on your choice of a cloud platform. If the application is too coupled and old to even make it cloud-native and if you would also like to include more features to it, the application can be rebuilt from scratch or modernized architecturally using microservices. Whatever modernization strategy you choose, it should make the product more agile and reactive to changes in the market.

We know it is usually not simple to define a strategy that helps you reach your business goals. It is neither easy to decide which road to modernization is smoother. But don’t worry, you can always seek a meaningful collaboration with a reliable offshoring partner like coMakeIT to coCreate software that is modern but rooted in your core business, relevant but can leverage the cumulate legacy knowledge. Are you looking for such a collaboration? Please write to us at info@comakeit.com.

    Divya Prathima

    The author was a java Developer at coMakeIT before turning into a stay-at-home-mom. She slowed down to make art, tell stories, read books on fiction, philosophy, science, art-history, write about science, parenting, and observe technology trends. She loves to write and aspires to write simple and understandable articles someday like Yuval Noah Harari. We are very happy to have her back at coMakeIT and contribute to our relevant and thought provoking content.

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