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5 Myths That Undermine Application Modernization Projects


Application modernization is an increasingly urgent priority for organizations with aging technology and shrinking technical resources. A survey conducted by Asperitas revealed that 100% of IT leaders said that application modernization was very or somewhat important to their business.

Beyond the very real technical and logistical challenges that organizations face when working on modernization projects, there are many misconceptions that undermine these projects. Here, I will examine five common application modernization myths.

Myth No. 1: Legacy application modernization doesn’t deliver a meaningful ROI.

IT leaders have either not attempted modernization projects or heard of prior ones that have been unsuccessful or taken exponentially longer than expected. They look at the size and scope of their legacy systems and assume that these systems would be prohibitively expensive to modernize. The benefits of expanded capabilities, reduced costs and improved user experience do not seem valuable enough in the face of potentially expensive project failures.

Many organizations that have outright failed with their modernization projects or taken inordinately longer to complete them tried using the “big bang approach,” used untested processes or both. Experience and new innovations are enabling organizations to implement an alternate modernization route: a phased approach and tested processes that have been formulated after understanding the nuances of the application to be modernized.

A phased approach mitigates risks, saves costs and increases the potential for success. Documenting the source application to understand its structure, interdependencies and business logic allows organizations to devise modernization processes and test these processes on a small segment of the application. During this pilot stage, the processes can be customized to ensure expected results.

Myth No. 2: Modernization is the responsibility of the IT team only.

Many believe that since the IT team maintains the technology and systems of the organization, the IT team is responsible for updating aging applications without involvement from other departments.

Application modernization projects require significant resources and the cooperation of many stakeholders to succeed. According to the Asperitas survey, 93% of organizations are challenged by staffing, tools, training and other roadblocks while modernizing. IT leaders may manage the project, but they will need to work closely with the organization’s leadership, managers, security teams and other resources to scope, plan and fund the project for success.

Myth No. 3: Legacy system modernization requires a large team.

Modernizing legacy applications written in older programming languages with decades of updates and modifications is a monumental effort of technical archeology. Large teams that pore over millions of lines of code are the only way legacy applications can be modernized.

The time for labor-intensive, largely manual implementation of application modernization projects has passed. Modernization projects can now utilize AI-powered tools or platforms to automatically garner knowledge of the source and then test and implement processes that are also substantially automated to convert that source to modern platforms or languages. By utilizing automation for these projects, organizations can reduce the tedious effort, time commitment, and headcount required to document and modernize legacy code. On the documentation end, this time and effort is reduced by as much as 90+%, and depending on the modernization path chosen, time savings can be 40-60% or more. This allows your modernization team to be lean and significantly more productive than a team working primarily with manual processes.

Myth No. 4: Business rules extraction as a means to modernize is tedious and error-prone.

Business rules extraction (BRE), one of the paths to application modernization, is the process of consolidating business logic into higher-level policies being executed. Rules extraction is a manual effort and is, therefore, time-consuming and prone to human errors where critical rules may get overlooked.

For organizations looking to replace their current application with an existing modern, off-the-shelf platform or looking to do a rewrite, BRE is essential. As an example, the insurance industry is increasing its adoption of commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) platforms to improve experiences and reduce costs. To move legacy systems to one of these platforms, they must understand and extract the rules from the source system to identify which rules are already included in the modern platform and which rules need to be exported into it.

This can now be achieved with new BRE capabilities in automated platforms. Automated BRE not only reduces the time and resources needed to extract rules, but it also reduces the chance of missing essential functionality in the modern application. With automated BRE, the time to extract rules is reduced by 60% or more, enabling teams to move quickly without losing accuracy in functionality.

Myth No. 5: Modernization will require code freeze and disrupt business operations

Application modernization efforts require putting key application changes on hold for the duration of the project, thereby reducing the utility of applications and hindering business policy updates. 

Until very recently, organizations had to freeze code in production if they were in the midst of optimizing or extracting rules from that code. This was done to avoid creating functionality differences between the original application and its optimized or modernized version. Hence, many organizations were loath to move forward with large modernization projects, especially when applications required frequent updates. With today’s innovations, agile methodologies have been incorporated into modernization platforms to enable application updates to be transferred to the same meta-data repository where modernization work is underway. For rules extraction projects in particular, these updates are performed without affecting the rules that are not impacted, while the rules whose functionality are impacted are marked and reported. This enables organizations to update the reported rules and continue with their modernization efforts. 

Don’t let myths discourage you.

While there are many challenges when modernizing legacy applications, these common myths shouldn’t be on your list of obstacles. By dispelling these misconceptions, I hope you will feel confident to take on the modernization of your legacy applications. Leveraging automation, and connecting with all stakeholders to develop a testable and repeatable process will speed up the project, reduce costs, and deliver modern technology benefits quickly.

For more information about how EvolveWare can help you get past these and other application modernization concerns, read more about the Intellisys platform or schedule a free consultation with one of our experts.

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