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Challenges with Legacy System Modernization and How to Overcome Them

No matter how much businesses want to get rid of legacy tech, more than 66% still use them for everyday operations. True, legacy systems are essential to these businesses, but they’re also old and expensive to maintain. According to Information Week, IT departments in the US spend $85 billion annually fixing and maintaining outdated tech.

So, why not replace these systems? The benefits of doing so are significant, including improved scalability, better user experience, flexibility, efficiency, and competitive advantage. The problem is how to modernize without disrupting the business.

There are a number of legacy modernization approaches, but each has its own challenges. For example, re-platforming can be expensive and time-consuming. However, by taking a phased modernization strategy and working with a reliable partner, organizations can modernize their legacy systems without affecting business operations. 

In this article, we will cover some of the challenges of legacy system upgrading and some tips on how to overcome them.

Read on…

What are the Risks and Issues of Legacy Software

Legacy software is any kind of system, software, or application that is outdated and no longer supported but still in use by an organization despite its outdated technology.

Some of the signs that you have a legacy system are:

  • Lack of or limited support. Discontinued support for legacy systems is the first sign that you have a dinosaur on your hands. Unfortunately, you’ll have an uphill battle updating and maintaining the system.
  • Outdated user interface. A legacy system will have a user interface and navigation that are noticeably outdated and clumsy. 
  • Reliance on outdated tech stack. If the system is reliant on outdated programming languages or databases, then it’s probably time to look for a replacement. 
  • Incompatibility with newer systems. If you’re experiencing compatibility issues with modern software, making it hard to integrate with newer systems, then that is a sure sign that your system is old.
  • Slow and cumbersome. Legacy systems can be slow and clunky in comparison to modern systems. This can create long load times, long waiting periods for data to update, or even cause programs to crash.

While legacy systems may be the mainstay of your business, their maintenance and usage carry certain risks. Apart from the cost of maintaining legacy systems, some other downsides of using old technology include.

  • Limited functionality. Limited functionality is one of the biggest legacy issues for businesses. Old systems often lack the capabilities to efficiently handle modern data and applications, leading to a decrease in productivity.
  • Increased vulnerability to security issues. Outdated systems lack modern security protocols and the ability to automatically patch security flaws, so they are much more exposed to cyberattacks.
  • Data silos. Legacy systems are typically not designed to be merged with modern systems. This can cause isolation from other systems, leading to data silos.
  • Difficulty finding skilled personnel to maintain the system. Legacy systems often require specialist skills to maintain them. As such, it can be hard to find qualified personnel to work on the system, significantly increasing operational costs and time.
  • Loss of competitive advantage. Companies that use outdated systems will have difficulty adapting quickly to changing customer demands, market trends, and other competitive pressures. This can cause them to lose their competitive advantage. 
  • Potential legal and financial risks. Many companies are required to comply with certain standards or regulations. Legacy IT systems may not be able to meet those standards or adhere to regulations, and this could lead to hefty fines or other penalties. 

Because of these downsides, companies should consider transitioning to more modern systems or legacy system integration in order to keep up with the times and avoid potential risks.

5 Legacy System Modernization Challenges

While modernizing your existing system can bring countless advantages and improve user experience, there are also a few difficulties of legacy system upgrading. Some of the challenges to think about when upgrading from a legacy application are.

User acceptance

Transition to a new system is often met with resistance. It can be hard to get workers to accept and integrate the new system into their everyday routines. This means that whenever a modernization effort is undertaken, significant effort must go toward getting user acceptance.

Seamless integration of new applications and technologies

The seamless integration of new applications and technologies with the elements of your existing legacy infrastructure is another legacy system modernization challenge to think about. It requires a lot of forethought and planning to ensure the newer applications are compatible with the code of the legacy system.

Data loss

Legacy systems often contain a vast amount of vital data which needs to be converted to the new system. Unfortunately, it is not always possible to convert all data from the old to the new. This can lead to significant data loss and is one of the major challenges while modernizing an outdated software.

Workflow issues 

Redesigning and re-engineering a legacy system can often result in a mismatch between the end user and the workflow. This is one of the biggest issues while migrating legacy applications and users will find it difficult to understand and use the system. If this is not addressed preferably via training, it can lead to poor employee engagement.

The cost

Replacing an entire system is never cheap and can be a huge financial burden on any organization. In fact, according to Workday, cost is one of the top challenges with upgrading from legacy software. All costs associated with the modernization effort need to be carefully considered before any decisions are taken.

Difficulties with choosing the right strategy

One of the challenges in migrating a legacy system is the difficulty in choosing a strategy. There is no single ‘right’ way to do it. Difficulty in choosing the right replacement strategy or problems in identifying a reliable cloud provider can delay or even deter IT decision-makers from their modernization plans.2

How to Overcome Legacy Systems Challenges: Strategies and Best Practice

Modernization of existing technology is key to remaining competitive and efficient in an ever-evolving technological landscape. But how can you go about it in an effective and efficient manner without compromising everyday operations? These strategies and best practices will help you resolve the difficulties in replacing apps legacy technology.

Assess your legacy system

The first step in updating any legacy system is to do an assessment. This starts with a total software review. Even if your software is cutting-edge, it may fall short of meeting your current company’s needs. So, consider your business development objectives and which software can help you achieve them.

Explore the current solutions

Next, take a look at the current offerings/ solutions on the market. Chances are you will find a SaaS that will meet your business development needs. If there is no obvious fit, then you may want to consider custom software development.

Choose your legacy system modernization strategy

Now, it’s time to decide on a strategy for modernizing your legacy system. This can be done through a number of strategies, including re-platforming, code refactoring, enhancement and migration, and software rebuilding. Making the right decision requires careful consideration. The assistance of an IT professional may be of value here. 

Select an optimal technology stack

This is where you’ll decide whether to go for complete cloud migration or choose the hybrid model. The size of your organization, your method of managing big data, as well as the stack speed system you want, will play a role in this decision.

Set up a legacy system retirement schedule

You will not suspend your legacy system all at once. Therefore, have a plan in place to roll out the new system over a period of time. This strategy can help reduce disruption. It will also provide a more cost-effective solution, and give you the time to plan and prepare for potential legacy system migration challenges that may arise.

Train your employees

Don’t overlook the importance of training. When it comes to legacy system modernization, your employees may not be too enthusiastic about the changes. Training can alleviate potential apathy and help them get familiar with the new infrastructure faster.

Plan for future upgrades

Despite the best efforts, modernization could disrupt the everyday flow of the organization. It can be pricey too. Therefore, it is important to plan and allocate a budget for it ahead of time. This will help make the process as seamless as technically possible.

Consider ModLogix Your Trusted Partner

At ModLogix, we’re passionate about helping companies transform their outdated legacy applications into modern, cutting-edge solutions. Our extensive experience in software development and legacy software modernization means that we’re well-equipped to guide you through the process. 

Our case study

Our client, a leading IT and financial services provider in the healthcare industry, urgently required modernization of their software. The system comprised a biometric system that authorizes and tracks users, a database to store the records, and a volunteer management tool. This system was hampered by platform limitations and a lack of continuity. Consequently, the client opted to move from on-premises to Azure.

After analyzing the project and the client’s objectives, we determined that re-platforming was the best approach. By re-platforming, we could minimize risk and complexity, while maximizing the cloud’s benefits. Along the way, we fixed MS SQL database incompatibility with Azure SQL. We also enhanced the application’s performance by rewriting the report-building module. 

Technologies used

  • MS Azure 
  • .NET Framework
  • WebForms
  • C#
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • T-SQL
  • Neurotechnology

Scope of work

  • 1 Tech Lead
  • 1 Developer
  • 1 QA
  • 4 Months

The result

  • 200 times faster report building
  • 99.99% guaranteed business continuity
  • 297 code issues fixed

Please read the full case study here.

Final Thoughts

Legacy systems modernization is critical for firms that wish to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced technological ecosystem. While there may be difficulties encountered in the old software updating process, working with a reliable firm like ModLogix can make all the difference. Don’t allow obsolete software to hold your business back.  Request our app upgrade service today and take your business to the next level.

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