July 14, 2022

What are the Ways to Modernize Your Legacy System?

Are you stuck working with a legacy platform that your organization used in the early days? You’re not alone. Legacy systems comprise a large chunk of technology infrastructure and corporate resources, but replacing and modernizing platforms is ultimately what distinguishes growing businesses from the pack in the digital economy.

The success of enterprise organizations depends on the ability to integrate and use data and digital products well. Unfortunately, outdated systems and antiquated workflows prevent this success from happening. In this scenario, no one wins.

In this post, we’ll recap what a legacy system is, discuss the problems companies face, and focus on ways to modernize your current digital processes.

What is a legacy system?

A legacy system is any outdated system on which your existing platforms currently operate.

Even though legacy systems may have been top of the line upon initial release, modern technology, and digital product development move quickly. A fast rate of growth means that many legacy applications are now behind the times, if not outdated altogether. Outdated products make it difficult to serve customers with in-demand features and make it challenging for companies to quickly adapt to market changes.

For established businesses, legacy systems can make up a large percentage of how they do business. This issue is especially prevalent in large enterprise businesses that have operated in a similar fashion for a long time.

What are the problems with legacy systems?

If you’ve been with a system for a long time, it can be tough to pinpoint specific faults. After all, plenty of business leaders use—and rely on—legacy systems to establish and maintain thriving corporations.

Yet, over time, internal and external users will hit roadblocks when using outdated or under-performing systems, platforms, and products. Some of the most common problems with legacy systems include the following pain points:

  • Legacy systems are costly and expensive to keep running. In fact, outdated systems can eat up to 60-80% of technology costs. This is a huge expense that limits an organization’s ability to scale and advance.
  • They are cumbersome. Many users complain that legacy applications hold back newer technologies and products, and they are clumsy to operate.
  • They contribute to stunted corporate growth. From an external standpoint, there are fewer customer acquisitions and less revenue growth because systems are not competitive enough to provide a marketplace advantage.
  • Lack of skilled resources. Internally, there are fewer skilled individuals able to maintain these systems, which contributes to higher levels of burnout and poor resource management.
  • Lack of cybersecurity in an increasingly risky online environment. Updated systems are more likely to align with compliance regulations and current industry best practices. It may not be worth the security or data privacy risk to keep using outdated systems that aren’t capable of supporting new needs, particularly those that reduce the risk of cyberattacks and security flaws.

How to modernize your current legacy system

If you’ve already acknowledged how important it is to update your current legacy platforms, you’re one step ahead. The first part of your journey is complete. Now, it’s time to dive in and make the necessary updates so that your organization can quickly adapt to change.

Evaluate what needs to change

Digital transformation always starts with an audit and strategy-building session. This is where you ensure that all of your major players are informed about the current platforms.

Use this time to present pain points and known problems with your existing platform or product. Provide solid reasoning for why modernization must take place. The more transparent you are, the more buy-in you can generate from your most important colleagues.

Determine the level of involvement

There are different ways and methods for modernizing outdated systems. Depending on the results of your audit, your company’s teams must make a call about how in-depth you want to be when updating. The most popular options include:

  • Rehosting: Modernized legacy systems go to a new environment without a major rebuild or complete overhaul. This method is less “invasive” and presents fewer interruptions to existing processes.
  • Refactoring: This process involves retooling and optimizing code for new developments. Refactoring improves a set of processes without interrupting functionality, an important part of a seamless product process.
  • Replatforming: Replatforming involves switching certain platforms to newer ones as a way to better meet expectations while preserving some familiarity.
  • Repurchasing: This involves the biggest commitment, as it requires everything to be replaced—in totality—in order to keep up with current demand.
  • Retiring: In the process of legacy system modernization, it’s important to explore need and relevance. If your organization no longer requires the outdated solution, sometimes removing it is the simplest solution.
  • Retaining: Retaining a platform or system is sometimes recommended if the product goals and priorities aren’t in alignment with modernization. While this isn’t the best fit for every organization, it does allow time and resources for an honest evaluation of modernization goals.

Make the required changes

In order to implement, your team must decide between in-house improvement or outsourcing to a product development partner through a vendor relationship. Regardless of what you choose for your modernization goals, the plan should be detailed and transparent.

Inform and educate all users

The goal of any system or platform upgrade must be wide-scale adoption. How will you educate key players and end users so that everyone can capitalize on the newest changes? Information and training can help everyone feel equipped and ready to enter the next chapter with confidence.

Conclusion and Takeaways

If you’re ready to tackle your organization’s legacy platform challenges, contact 3Pillar Global today. Our team of experts is here to make your journey to platform modernization simple, stress-free, and highly effective.

Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.

FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.