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Take the First Steps Toward Legacy Modernization

For organizations that run on legacy systems, switching to something current can seem like an overwhelming endeavor. But when the costs of sticking with an outdated application are clearly higher than migrating to something else, it’s better to start the modernization process as soon as possible.

That’s why decision makers must know the first steps toward moving legacy data into an application that will help their organization achieve its objectives. Although modernization doesn’t happen overnight, having a solid plan in place will definitely move things along.

Here are some steps to take when beginning the modernization process:

1.  Assess your current application(s).

And assess them from a business perspective. What kind of value do you currently receive from your IT infrastructure? Where is it failing you? What would you like to maintain, and what definitely needs to change?

These are important questions. As a decision maker, you should address all of them with your team close at hand. Having input from users will help you discover the biggest problem areas and determine whether there is or isn’t any consensus about what needs to change.

Have a clear idea about what business problems you need your applications to solve, and carefully document how your current system is or isn’t solving them.

2.  Understand why you’re modernizing.

You’re just sure you need to modernize, but why?

If one thing is certain, it’s that purchasing new technology must be less expensive than sticking with what you’ve got. Period. There are lots of reasons why we love the idea of modernization, but from a business perspective, ROI is king.

Are you still hosting all your data in-house? Is it time to investigate cloud integration solutions? If you have ignored the inefficiencies of your current system until the very last minute, it will be clear that now is the time to modernize.

But if you’re planning ahead and there’s still time to spare, modernization might not seem urgent to everyone in your circle. It’s your job, therefore, to explain the rewards of investing in the new system.

Remember: A new application should make you more competitive. Be sure you have numbers that demonstrate how a new system will do just that. If you can’t come up with those numbers, maybe it’s not time to modernize.

3.  Discuss integration options with IT.

They’re the ones who know how it works. Find out how (and whether) you can integrate your current processes and data sets with newer technologies. See what the IT folks recommend, and don’t be afraid to put a lot of stock in their opinions.

4.  Determine whether you need to hire consultants or application vendors.

IT will help you figure this one out.

Many, if not all, modernizations require you to hire somebody to make everything work the way you want. This might be a consulting service and/or an application vendor, but the extent to which you need to modernize will affect who you hire.

Modernization options run the gamut, and different vendors specialize in different areas:

  • New environment architecture
  • SOA integration
  • Off-the-shelf vs. custom solutions
  • Re-hosting with automated migration
  • Data modernization

Assuming you completed steps 1 through 3, you will have a pretty good idea about the changes you should implement and how you’re going to make them happen. Knowing these things will help you choose the right vendors.

5.  Develop a long-term plan.

Failing to plan means planning to fail. Since modernization can be a long process, it’s absolutely integral that you plan ahead.

A good plan will help you set milestones – and meet them. It will also help you develop a process for choosing vendors and give you time to perform research and due diligence on various solutions.

While you shouldn’t underestimate how involved a modernization can be, don’t be afraid to take the first steps. A smart modernization will take you out of the dark ages (i.e. early 2000s IT systems) and into the future.

Your employees will thank you. So will your bottom line.