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8 Steps for Legacy Modernisation (2)

We have identified a number of critical success factors that will help address and overcome the constraints of legacy IT systems as part of a wider digital transformation. These factors have been condensed into our 8-point solution for legacy modernisation. Here in the second of our three-part series, we take a look at Skills, Design and Delivery.

Critical success factors that help address and overcome the constraints of legacy IT systems as part of a wider digital transformation.

A persistent issue holding back the pace and scale of many industries’ digital transformation ambitions relates to a reluctance to swap out desktop-centric, weighty, and cumbersome enterprise legacy tech, which is increasingly burdensome and costly to maintain.

Successful digital transformation promises to improve customer experience and organisational effectiveness whilst reducing operational costs through the innovative use of technology and data.

To fulfil this promise, end-to-end service transformation is required; a piecemeal approach that focusses solely on building new customer facing applications at the expense of modernising legacy back-office systems risks creating services that are disjointed, costly and unnecessarily complex.

Any whole-of-enterprise or whole-of-government approach to addressing legacy infrastructure needs to be rooted in a practical reality. In some 25 years of modernising enterprise systems, we have noted a number of critical success factors in being able to address and overcome the constraints of legacy IT systems as part of a wider digital transformation.

These factors have been condensed into our 8-point solution for legacy modernisation covering measurement, leadership, skills, design, delivery, investment, motivation, and strategy, each of which we will be introducing in the coming week.  Here in the second of our three-part series, we take a look at Skills, Delivery and Investment:

Skills

The operating model and skills of IT teams must be capable of developing and supporting modern infrastructures and services.

Taking advantage of modern and emerging technologies requires long-term investment in in-house technical skills and a managed transition to new ways of working. Multi-disciplinary teams are required to use modern technologies and techniques such as Cloud, PaaS, DevOps and Agile, playing an integrated role in continually improving whole services rather than individual systems. Automation of releases, dynamic infrastructure configuration, scaling and recovery combined with better insights into user behaviours allows services to be more flexible, easy to change and cost effective.

Successful organisations understand and plan for the developments in skills and ways of working that are required to take advantage of this cloud-first, agile environment.

Design

Transformation design must adopt a service-centric approach that transcends traditional divisional and organisational boundaries and acknowledges the legacy challenge.

Transforming user experience requires organisations to reconsider how they work and how their existing systems meet the needs of their staff and customers. Transformation design should be service and user centric and be orchestrated hand-in-hand with integration and transition architectures that over time reduce the need to ‘hand-off’ between new and legacy systems.

This inevitably requires the development of plans for replacing, modernising or integrating with legacy systems as an integral part of business transformation. Successful approaches have acknowledged this challenge at the outset, building in the reality of addressing legacy systems as a key element of their vision for change.

Delivery

Phased or iterative approaches help manage risks and are supported by mature architecture patterns and techniques.

Digital transformation at any real scale or complexity requires time, iteration and learning. In most organisations there will be a plethora of legacy systems, challenges with data, and a suite of ‘in-flight’ IT projects that are needed to ‘keep the lights on’. In such environments ‘big bang’ transformations are rarely feasible – up-skilling staff, putting in place new technologies and evolving ways of working all take time.

Proven architecture patterns based on micro services and ‘wrap and replace’ techniques enable dependencies on legacy systems to be tackled over time. A well planned, phased approach that iteratively puts in place modern capabilities, whilst tackling legacy IT can get valued improvements rolled out quickly to users whilst ensuring that the internal pace of change is manageable and sustainable.

 

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