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There are many legacy system modernization approaches to consider when committing your organization to the process of upgrading current systems. Before you can consider any of the legacy system modernization approaches and which may be the best fit for your organization, it’s important to have an understanding of why legacy systems migration is important, as well as what the steps are in the overall process of a migration.

What is a legacy system?

Legacy system refers to a piece of technology within your stack that has either aged out of support or requires constant updates and maintenance for it to remain operational.

Legacy systems will eventually need to be modernized, whether that’s by shifting to a modern platform, updating custom code or integrations to be compatible with newer technologies, or even replacing entire systems with better options.

Why do you need legacy system modernization?

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There are numerous reasons why an organization may believe that it’s time for legacy systems migration, including but not limited to:

1. Outdated or unsupported technology

Technology is continually evolving at a rapid rate that older systems are more frequently becoming outdated or unsupported. When this happens, migrating to newer systems can help ensure an organization stays on top of their infrastructural needs without falling behind.

2. Improved efficiency

With an expansive market of integrations that can make business operations continually smoother, newer technology systems are able to adapt and better expedite processes than aging systems. These upgrades in efficiency and user experience can provide cost saving to your organization and ensure a better experience for clients.

3. Enhanced security

Cybersecurity is a bigger risk than it ever has been. With attacks happening at frequent rates, older systems are more vulnerable to security threats than their younger counterparts. Migrating to newer systems can help improve security and protect sensitive data.

4. Increased flexibility

Modern systems are significantly more flexible and scalable, a necessary requirement for fast growing companies. Migrating to newer systems can provide an organization with the ability to easily add or remove features as needed.

Five steps for a legacy system modernization

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It’s advised that companies hire third-party specialists when it comes to conducting a legacy systems migration, as the process can be extremely complicated and errors could cripple an entire organization’s internal operations infrastructure. That being said, having an understanding of the process prior to hiring a third-party gives you the power to navigate these conversations with more ease.

Here are some steps to consider when embarking on a legacy system migration project:

1. Identify the systems and data being migrated

The first step in any legacy systems migration project is to identify the systems and data that need to be migrated. This includes everything from databases to entire systems or applications.

It’s important to have a thorough understanding of what is being migrated and how it is used within the organization.

2. Select a platform to migrate to

Once you have identified the systems and data being migrated, the next step is to select the desired platforms to migrate to. The specific needs of your organization will factor into your selection. Do you need a cloud based platform to replace your local system?

An ERP that can scale with your growing workforce? Whatever the need is, It’s important to conduct in-depth research on each of your options to pick the platform that’s right for you.

3. Plan the migration process

Once identification and selection has occurred, it’s time to plan the migration process. This should include a timeline, tasks and responsibilities, and a testing and validation plan for the end of the legacy systems migration process. Make time to consider any foreseeable slowdowns or challenges along the way to adjust your timeline accordingly.

Within planning this process, there are multiple legacy system modernization approaches you could consider.

Three Legacy system modernization approaches

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a. Refactoring/Re-architecting

These legacy system modernization approaches involve restructuring or altering the legacy system’s code to improve capability without affecting external functionality. The scale of this varies, as refactoring generally refers to smaller changes in structural code while re-architecting is a much larger structure change.

This approach recognizes that sometimes business critical data within a legacy system cannot be migrated without causing data loss. These legacy system modernization approaches prevent that loss, but can also be time-consuming and expensive.

A third-party responsible for refactoring or re-architecting a system will need to spend significant time developing a deep understanding of the legacy system’s functionality to successfully re-architect the system.

b. Replatform

Replatforming involves moving an existing system or application to a new platform with as few changes to the code of the system as possible. This process is intended to be swifter than other migration processes, as no significant changes are made to the way the system functions, but the system now exists in a more flexible and scalable platform.

c. Rebuild/Replace

These legacy system modernization approaches are considered the most drastic options, but may be necessary if the utilized system is extremely outdated and cannot be modernized through code adjustment.

These approaches are exactly what they sound like, either rebuilding the application from scratch while maintaining its original specifications and scope, or entirely replacing the application without consideration of the original specifications. These legacy system modernization approaches are costly and time consuming, and include the unavoidable risk of losing precious data.

A useful tool to help analyze which of the legacy system modernization approaches are the best fit for your company would be to engage in a systems audit. At DOOR3 we refer to this as a technical discovery process.

A DOOR3 technical discovery process for legacy migration is a comprehensive assessment of an organization’s technology systems, the data within them, and any potential risks or pitfalls that could occur during the legacy systems migration process.

During a discovery process, our team of business analysts, technology consultants, and software engineers conduct a thorough review of your organization’s current systems and data, looking for modernization opportunities or which outdated systems are in desperate need of replacement.

Factors that may contribute to this assessment include age of inspected systems, custom code integration compatibility with modern platforms, and your organization’s overall technology objectives and goals for the short-term and long-term future.

Once the discovery process is complete, our team hosts a series of meetings to share our findings. This may include recommendations for which systems to migrate and options for where to migrate them to, and a roadmap of the legacy systems migration process. If we see any potential dangers in conducting this migration, those risks are also shared ahead of time.

While the discovery process is unique to DOOR3, other providers have processes for auditing the active systems in your organization. This audit step is perhaps the most important step in this entire process, as undercutting the amount of time needed for analysis is almost certain to harm your organization as the migration process unfolds.

4. Execute the migration

With a plan in hand, it’s now time to execute the system migration. Usually this involves transferring data to the updated platform, adjusting code or integrations, and quality assurance measures such as testing and validating once the migration is complete.

Testing at the end of the migration is extremely important, as systems that appear operational may collapse under certain environments due to transfer error. It’s much easier to adjust code for failing systems in a testing environment than after a collapse has occurred during a business operations workflow.

5. Monitor and maintain

After testing and validation has been completed, it’s important to monitor and maintain migrated systems to confirm they are meeting the needs of the organization. This should involve ongoing updates and maintenance to extend the life of your newly migrated system.

Training for employees on how to utilize the new system is also important, as a tool is only as useful as the people wielding it. Providing resources for employee training not only increases adoption rate, but also increases overall efficiency as employees know the best ways to operate the new system immediately.

What Legacy System Modernization Approach Will Work Best for Your Business?

Regardless of the numerous legacy system modernization approaches available to your organization, they all seek to remedy the same problem, outdated technology limiting your potential.

An in depth analysis of the specific needs of your business is necessary before deciding which legacy system modernization approach will be the best for you.

Stay ahead of the curve and reach out to DOOR3 to assess your technology needs before they cause harm to your bottom line. Interested in learning more about DOOR3’s legacy modernization services? Send us an email.

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