Imagine you run a century-old family business worth millions, and the hard-earned algorithms — the ones that power your 56 greenhouses — are trapped in a 30-year old application. A legacy system, some say.

The legacy app is written with a programming language that lost support over a decade ago. The team that built it is long gone. The app works only on Windows machines. You can’t access it from your phone or browser. It sits on an unprotected server. And you keep asking, “How much longer can this setup work?”

In theory, you are good to last for another thirty years: those algorithms have gotten you through almost half a century and made your business a success. But in practice, your competition will probably oust you by then. So how do you deal with this?

Read on to learn how we helped this plant growing company and other businesses deal with digital transformation and make sense of legacy system modernization.

ACCELERATE Global 2020 event

The Future of Enterprise with Low-Code

October 28, 2020

Join a live stream conference to accelerate your business transformation at the click of a mouse.

What is a Legacy System?

What is a Legacy System?

It’s not like there is a strict dictionary definition of a legacy system or software. Still, you know when you’re dealing with one, right?

As a CIO, VP of Technology, or CTO, you’ve probably inherited a software platform that serves as the backbone for nearly all business processes at your place. And you know it’s legacy by definition because you did not architect it — your predecessors did.

But what if you are a CEO or a Product Executive trying to figure out if your company runs on a legacy system? Well, the first sign is you and your employees become grampy about using the software. But let’s look at some other symptoms that give away a legacy system.

Legacy System Symptoms

As you can see, our greenhouse owning company was right to identify their case as dealing with a legacy system. At the same time, they were very particular about their needs, wisely not seeking to over-optimize their solution.

Read more about Plant Production Legacy System Migration

At the same time, you should be aware of false positives: something that looks characteristic of a typical legacy system, but not necessarily defines one.

Legacy System False Positives

Why Begin Legacy Software Modernization

Why Begin Legacy Software Modernization

Now that we’ve discussed the symptoms and false positives of legacy systems let’s iron out why your business might need legacy software modernization.

After all, such fundamental projects rarely go unnoticed for the company’s budget, and you need to line up all the facts and figures to convince stakeholders and investors.

Outrun the Competition

Well-run companies are always looking for ways to run their business more effectively. And in the age of digital disruption, when innovative technologies like blockchain, IoT, and AI abound, this pace only intensifies.

Case in point: One of America’s Best Executive Recruiting Firms of 2019 (per Forbes), has been growing its database of candidates 3x faster after Velvetech completed a legacy software modernization project for them.

Cut Back Costs

Another distinct area of improvement for businesses is to slash operational costs. This practice helps them stay relevant in the marketplace longer, even if their products are not necessarily the most innovative ones.

Case in point: A healthcare consulting company reduced its operational costs by 30 percent after Velvetech modernized their legacy software and migrated them to a new CRM platform.

Address Organizational Changes

It’s quite often the case when companies need to embrace new processes due to an acquisition or a merger. This environment is probably the optimal position for newly appointed CEOs or VPs of Technology to take charge and spearhead the initiative of modernizing the existing legacy systems.

Case in point: After IncreMedical acquired Medadept, Velvetech helped them extend their suite of apps with mHealth solutions so they could target a wider audience.

Legacy System Modernization

Legacy System Modernization Approaches

It’s not like there’s a textbook out there prescribing specific procedures for modernizing the legacy software at your firm. And you’re probably aware of the reason: each situation is unique. Still, we can single out several major approaches to how companies usually tackle legacy system modernization.

Replace with a New System

A radical overhaul of the company’s IT infrastructure and underlying software is the most common approach to legacy system modernization. And it’s pretty evident too: rebuild the whole thing from the ground up.

Benefits:
Risks:

Replacing the legacy solution was what we did for the century-old family business operating greenhouses, except for the time-tested algorithms. We took their algorithms and put them into a modern, secure cloud application.

Rebuild Gradually

You may also choose to tackle your legacy software modernization with an app-by-app approach. In this scenario, you pick the most ROI-effective applications in the legacy solution and rebuild them one by one.

Benefits:
Risks:

That is exactly how we managed an epic insurance system overhaul for Insureon — Inc. 500’s #1 fastest growing insurance company.

Reuse

And the least invasive strategy to undertake a legacy system modernization project is, of course, to reuse the existing software infrastructure as much as possible. You can choose from several ways to reuse a legacy system:

Benefits:
Risks:

Learn more: How to Update Legacy Software According to McKinsey, Gartner, and Deloitte

Best Practices for Legacy Software Modernization

Best Practices for Legacy Software Modernization

As per our experience, legacy system modernization projects most often happen in insurance, finance, energy, and healthcare industries.

#1 Legacy Software Modernization Starts with People

Legacy system modernization is a perfect opportunity to adapt business processes to the changing realia. But remember that it’s employees who manage operations at your company. So get buy-in from across the board.

#2 Modernize Parts that Add Most Value First

Take a strategic approach — it makes no sense to revamp everything at once. Instead, start with the pieces that will make the most substantial impact on the ROI.

#3 Build to Scale

Your legacy system must remain current for as long as possible. So you should architect with this goal in mind. If your legacy software is a monolithic system, break it into independent microservices, transfer them to the cloud, and envision mobile apps to support its operations.

#4 Implement Continuous Integration and Delivery

CI / CD are indispensable components of ever-fresh platforms. As you modernize your legacy system, make sure to integrate DevOps practices into the process. This way, your no-longer-legacy system will be getting continuous improvements.

#5 Take Advantage of IoT, AI, and other Value-Driving Tech

As you start modernizing the processes powering your legacy system, explore opportunities to inject modern technologies like IoT, AI, and AR or VR to make it competitive.

Time to Review Your Legacy System?

Do you currently rely on a legacy system that could benefit from modernization? Are you not sure how to approach this task? Maybe you’re struggling to justify the investment in modernizing your legacy software and worry that the newly updated system becomes a legacy solution again in the future.

Reach out to us today, and we’ll help you find and implement the best legacy software modernization strategy. Like we already did for so many successful companies.

Get the conversation started!

Discover how Velvetech can help your project take off today.