Digital technologies are fast developing, bringing plenty of new possibilities for organizations to unlock the potential of their data, improve quality and performance, and drive profitable growth. While these are all beneficial changes for a company, there are still certain misconceptions regarding updating outdated systems that inhibit businesses from achieving true success in their digital transformation efforts. It’s time to debunk these widespread myths and distinguish truth from myth.

To be more clear, a legacy system is outdated computing software and/or hardware that is still in use. The system still fulfills the requirements for which it was created, but it does not allow for development. A legacy system will only ever do what it does now for the company. The outdated technology of a legacy system prevents it from interacting with modern systems.

The reasons for a company’s continued use of a legacy system are numerous. Here are some of them:

  • Although keeping a legacy system is costly over time, moving to a new system necessitates an additional financial and human investment.
  • Fear: Transitioning a whole organization — or even a single department — to a new system is difficult, and it can evoke some internal resistance.
  • Difficulty: Legacy software may have been written in an out-of-date programming language, making it difficult to find personnel with the necessary expertise to migrate it. The system may have limited documentation, and the original developers may have left the organization. Planning the data transfer from a legacy system and defining the range of needs for a new system can be difficult at times.

Leaders must develop a modernization strategy for their systems that focuses on improving them and generating near-term value for customers and economic advantages. However, getting organizational buy-in for even small changes can be difficult, because legacy systems come with more baggage than just obsolete software. Before they can hopefully move forward, leaders must debunk certain prevalent myths that may arise in their executive group’s list of concerns.

Myth #1: Legacy modernization is entirely technological.

Reality: Don’t get us wrong: technology is an important component. After all, legacy systems aren’t necessarily architecturally aligned to expand and support these new projects while also helping the company grow; but, there’s more to it. In addition to the technical issues, your strategy must allow for strategic, commercial, cultural, and talent considerations. Are you able to get your organization to commit to change? Do you have the right people to carry out this plan? All of these issues must be addressed and mitigated during the process.

Myth #2: It’s too expensive

Reality: Because legacy modernization is a large budgetary consideration spread out over a lengthy period of time, it is frequently disregarded as an organization-wide concern. To get stakeholder buy-in, budgeting dialogues must take place ahead of time, alleviating some of the worries about cost uncertainty and limits. A true digital transformation journey begins with the customer experience and highlights the connection between customer value creation and digital transformation.

Myth #3: Legacy systems do not require modernization

Many Corporate leaders still believe that their legacy systems are merely utilities that require only routine IT maintenance and support. Legacy systems, on the other hand, are a key impediment to successful transformation and innovation, and customer-centric digital solutions necessitate fundamental business systems that can change to actively serve digital workflow. They must be applicable to a wide range of user experiences, not simply the ones for which the system was originally designed.

Myth #4: There is a One-Size-Fits-All Solution 

Basically, there are a variety of approaches to upgrade legacy platforms, and no single solution fits all. Replatform, remodel, virtualization/encapsulation, rearchitect, or replace are all choices to consider when determining what is best for your company. This could entail a complete rewrite from scratch or the fragmentation of monoliths into microservices. These are all options to think about before you start your adventure. The good news is that you have choices!

Myth #5: Legacy modernization projects take “forever” and hardly produce the desired benefits.

However, modernization initiatives do not have to take decades or cost millions. While each project is unique, with different levels of complexity, leaders can drastically cut time-to-value by sticking to the following fundamental principles:

  • Include both functional and technical knowledge to engage the entire organization.
  • Find a happy balance between practicality and technical ability.
  • Focus on modernizing in order to obtain real-world consumer results.
  • Determine the right key performance indicators and operate in small steps with rapid feedback loops.

Myth #6:  Too much planning is required

It’s no secret that legacy modernization projects take a lot of time; nevertheless, spending extra time upfront to examine the full scope of your organization’s demands pays off in the long run. In life, including in the case of legacy modernization, it’s often necessary to take things slowly in order to make progress quickly. Spend time analyzing the business-technology trade-offs and prioritizing the development of the most critical features for the most important clients.

Myth #7:  The modernization plan has to be perfect

Modernization should never be pursued for its own sake. If you lose sight of the importance of upgrading for near-term consumer value, you risk putting too much emphasis on the development of robust technical solutions. Focusing on technical perfection at the expense of results necessitates much too much upfront preparation, slowing the modernization process.

When modernization actions are planned in a lean way, with a focus on incremental improvements, organizations can enjoy benefits in the short term and improve their strategy as client expectations and market forces change.

To sum up

Finally, legacy modernization must be considered as part of a larger digital corporate strategy. The end outcome is well worth the effort and risk.

Even in sensitive markets or mission-critical systems, where architectural, regulatory, and commercial limitations are more severe, modernization goals can be met while maintaining high levels of service, security, and compliance, including architecture ownership.

While each modernization project has its own scope, obstacles, and limits, leaders may overcome organizational resistance by focusing on delivering near-term customer value and increasing IT unit efficiency. There are numerous current frameworks, tools, and technologies available to help speed up the process, as well as partner consultancies like WebChain to assist with strategy and execution.

Start delivering quality software on time.