December 7, 2021 • by Alexandra & Andrew

Application Modernization Strategy in 5 Steps

Application Migration
Tech Staff

Efficient software is vital to daily business operations. Legacy applications, on the other hand, are systems that run on outdated technologies and slow down or even block processes within organizations. Once the outdated tech translates to underperformance, best case scenarios mean benchmarks aren’t met and inefficiencies proliferate; worst case, however, involves inability to compete or adapt, and that means extinction over time.


And that is when application modernization comes to the rescue. It aligns existing software with modern business and technical requirements. In order to keep or increase the capabilities and performance of IT systems, it introduces new technologies to the current solutions or replaces them. According to the 2021 “SIM IT Trends Study”, replacing/re-platforming legacy apps was one of the ten largest IT investments for companies in 2020, together with cloud computing, cybersecurity, and big data among others.


Application modernization is a continuous, incremental process that can come in many forms, such as a code review, cloud migration, data modernization, functionality extension, UX audit or redesign. Application modernization strategy usually employs multiple methods. According to Deloitte’s cloud experts, the two most important aspects that companies should embrace are cloud migration and data modernization. However, we need to be aware that each app modernization strategy must be adjusted to the needs of a particular organization.


Why modernize legacy applications?


Businesses must embrace change — it really boils down to adapt, adopt, or perish. Long story short, we modernize legacy software to save money, ensure security, prepare for new business opportunities, or in edge cases fight to survive.



The problem is real. Dealing with outdated software and technical debt hamper business adaptability, thus decreasing its competitiveness in the long run. 37% of federal agencies surveyed by Accenture stated that technical debt impedes securing government systems and data from cyber threats and attacks, as well as hinders their attempts to improve efficiency. Moreover, four out of ten respondents stated that legacy systems impede them from creating innovative products, services, operating models, and processes quickly.


If you’d like to explore why legacy system modernization is key to ensure the performance of any software older than 5 years, we encourage you to check out the article where we thoroughly explained the reasons together with some real-world examples.


How to plan an application modernization strategy in 5 steps


Step 1: Evaluate your legacy application


Start with a comprehensive analysis of your software environment. What leaps off the page as optimal or acceptable, and what’s subject to improvements, fixes, or should be replaced? There are six primary drivers for system modernization:


  • Business fit: adjusting systems so that they better support a company in addressing business opportunities.
  • Business value: optimizing software for best business KPIs completion.
  • Agility: growing an organization’s ability to rapidly adapt to the ever-changing business and IT requirements.
  • Cost: reducing the development and maintenance expenditures of software systems.
  • Complexity: making sure that maintaining the code base is not too expensive and its complexity doesn’t lead to an excessive number of bugs and/or downtime.
  • Risk: minimizing risk related to the system’s robustness, efficiency, and security.


The integrated approach, when change drivers come from both business and IT perspectives, leads toward ensuring optimal results.


Step 2: Define modernization goals


First and foremost, goals need to come as a byproduct of your business KPIs. For example, a consulting firm’s KPIs are usually focused on Resource Utilization Rate and Project Margin. When such a company approaches a modernization of its custom employee management software, the goals may be to reduce the time spent on filling a time report or performing administrative tasks or minimize the time needed to assign team members with the right skills to a new project.


Bear in mind that while your application modernization strategy must address flaws of your IT system, it may also take you one step ahead of your competitors.


Step 3: Consider available resources


Application modernization is an investment. You’re probably aware that it will generate expenses related to development workload and software fees, but such a transformation requires additional resources you might not have considered.


You will need to train your IT team in the new technology, hire additional staff or outsource talent with the right skillset. After the technical team is proficient with the new system, the next step will be to onboard the users and help them understand the tool. Although they’ll need some time to learn it at the beginning, it will be more time- and cost-efficient in the long run.


If your modernization touches not only purely technical aspects but also business operations and working culture, as agile transformation does, it will require leadership participation and management support.


Finally, when it comes to resource allocation, be sure to carefully plan your budget and time. Reach out to those who have already carried out successful transformations. According to a survey by Boomi, the main challenge (66%) of enterprise system modernization is confusion about the total cost of ownership at the outset.


Step 4: Decide how you’ll approach modernization


The last step before kick-off is to create a strategic plan with a prioritized list of short- and long-term measures. If you’re not planning to manage all initiatives personally, make sure you assign owners and make them accountable for the KPIs delivery.


The best way to start your app modernization journey is code review. It’s an efficient way of cleaning up the existing code base, fixing bugs, and identifying improvement areas for the future. Another useful modernization method is a UX audit, which analyzes behavioral, quantitative, and qualitative data about the system usage, and provides actionable advice about the real state of things, avoiding assumptions at all costs.


To adjust your application to new market requirements you may have to extend existing features or develop new ones. UX researchers and business analysts can help to identify your users’ most vital needs, the ones that should be addressed first. Make sure you base your decisions on recommendations backed by facts, not assumptions.


Sometimes you need to migrate the whole application or its parts to a new operating environment. Depending on the scope of the migration, it may be a quite simple fix (like changing a plugin used for internal reporting) or a much larger project (once you’ve determined to move your old-school monolithic app to microservices, for example).


Step 5: Modernize!


Lights, camera, action! Once you start the process, remember to keep an eye on the KPIs. In the meantime check in with your team and other users of the software you’re modernizing (like clients or other business partners). Make sure they understand how they’ll benefit from the changes and receive all the necessary support while onboarding to the new platform.


Technology and the way we use it is constantly evolving. Use your first modernization to learn and prepare for what’s next.


It’s high time you update your legacy system


Today’s economy is anything but stable. Organizations and their software need to be more agile, more effective, and more scalable than ever. Numerous lockdowns over the past two years moved business operations to digital.


Now, to ensure operational capacity and adaptability, all systems have to be compatible with the latest software and a wide variety of tools (because you never know what you will need next). In retail, transition to the omnichannel business model requires the data to be continuously accessible and up-to-date across all systems and channels. At the same time, clients are very demanding in terms of good UX. Sellers who address these expectations successfully win customer loyalty. And let’s not forget about security. With new security threats emerging daily, databases and applications should be updated with the latest security measures and monitored carefully.


At IntexSoft, we can help you plan and execute a custom application modernization strategy. We always start with a thorough analysis of your business needs and end-user requirements to ensure the modernization is successful. Based upon that assessment, we implement relevant solutions, such as cloud migration, software extension, UX audit, re-architecting applications from monolithic to microservice, and more.


Need a helping hand in modernizing your system? Drop us a line!

Written by
Marketing Manager
Head of Dev Department
Don't miss our updates