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The ‘gravity’ of custom legacy software means that IT-managers have to sink more and more time and attention into maintaining it, as well the legacy teams and processes, as time goes on. This makes the organisation as a whole less flexible, cannibalizes the innovation budget, and is very frustrating.
Every organisation still dependent on custom legacy applications knows how hard it is to get rid of them. These monolithic solutions were probably built with legacy development tooling in the past fifteen years, and now consist of hundreds of business critical screens. The legacy development tools are cunningly reanimated in Windows 10, but it gets harder and harder to keep everything working, while the number of developers able or willing to work with legacy development tools rapidly dwindles…In short, not a tenable position.
Still, I have noticed that many IT-managers find it hard to break this downward spiral, and struggle with compiling a business case for modernization. They keep passing the issue along to their successors, making it SEP (Somebody Else’s Problem). That’s quite the inheritance…At the same time, I see deciders who are willing to take up the gauntlet, causing a successful modernization of IT and business. Why do some fail where others succeed?
I have identified three factors contributing to success that I would like to share to inspire others:
Modernizing legacy is about decisiveness. There must be a drive to help the organization and the team progress in present-day IT. There is a need for leasers that dare to break the status quo, not only for their own ego, but for the advancement of the entire group. So just do it, and don’t pass it on!
By doing, you do set off on a path of uncertainties, and mistakes will be made. However, this dynamic will also give energy and teach you things. The change of technology can be used to innovate the team and the processes. Through Agile coaching, the business will learn to trust IT again, as they don’t hear ‘no’ and work together in new ways.
In our successful approach, we start with our legacy scan to map the structure and quality of the existing application. From there, we depart with our clients on their modernization journey, during which we quickly add value with new (mobile) applications.
The right tools are crucial when modernizing legacy. We have seen that the low-code platform OutSystems is well suited for modernizing legacy software, because it integrates very well and is easy to learn. During the modernization, some screens/modules might be incorporated directly as SaaS, while others are custom builds and so distinctive that the existing legacy code has to be accessed by new front-end. A complete rebuild is something to consider when the quality of the existing code is insufficient. Both approaches are possible with OutSystems, as well as a hybrid, in which new software modules are built to accompany the legacy ones.
Would you like to know more about how you can escape the gravitational pull of legacy and how you can reinvent yourself and your software development? I would be happy to talk with you about your challenges.
23 juni 2022 • Bart van de Laar
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