Many organisations struggle with legacy applications that inhibit business agility and prevent them from harnessing the digital technologies they need to grow and become more efficient.
Legacy applications are identified as software that are:
- No longer suitable for current and future IT and business operations.
- Based on outdated technologies, such as operating in an obsolete format or on an unsupported system, or for which the ongoing maintenance costs outweigh the benefits.
However, IT leaders are often hampered by the need to modernise these legacy applications in a cost-effective manner that minimises enterprise risk.
Application and process dependencies further complicate the issue with sometimes small changes causing potentially large impacts, ranging from business disruptions through to overall system stability. And whilst the business wants improvements, resistance to change can be high with stakeholders concerned about the potential impacts.
Many of these issues can be resolved however by taking a different approach and realising that modernising an existing application may not be the right approach. The business and technical risks to modernise may outweigh the anticipated benefits.
Identifying your candidate application for change
Instead, organisations should first analyse and assess their applications and justify the most appropriate candidates for change, where applications are not delivering value. Choosing the right applications is critical, as there can be a significant investment of resources and budget.
This is done by cataloguing the applications the business utilises and mapping these to the area of the business they serve along with the function that it fulfils. Then for each application understand through key stakeholders the business and technical factors (capabilities, pain points, risks, opportunities, satisfaction) and score the applications overall suitability:
1 = not fit for purpose / 5 = best practice
Once this has been done then you can determine the strategic action that would best meet the organisations needs:
- Replace – The application should be replaced with an alternative application in its entirety.
- Maintain – The existing application's status quo should be retained in a supported state.
- Review – A detailed review of the application needs to be performed to better assess the future direction.
- Enhance – Functionality & feature improvements should be made to the existing application.
- Retire – The application is no longer suitable and should be retired in the short-medium term.
An example application assessment is shown in the below diagram:
Based on the existing application platform and the organisation's future strategic direction, there are a number of modernisation methods that can be applied throughout the application stack depending on your specific constraints. You should review and determine the key benefits of implementing the alternative modernisation methods versus maintaining the status quo or a complete replacement.
At this stage, IT leaders should have the necessary information to understand which applications are candidates for change and the nature of that change. A plan or roadmap can be developed detailing the timeframe and dependencies associated, business cases generated, and where required, communicate the risks, benefits, costs for stakeholder buy-in.
MOQdigital has helped a number of clients with understanding their future application portfolio direction and have the necessary skills and expertise. If you are interested in finding out more about how we can help your organisation contact MOQdigital today.