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Racing to Digital While Managing Legacy

Blog: Jim Sinur

Everyone is shouting “Go Digital” from the mountain tops, but someone has to keep the legacy business processes and applications running. Sometimes the domain business and programming knowledge is on board the organization and sometimes not. Legacy can be one of the major obstacles that organizations will have to deal with in their incremental transformation to digital because few organizations are willing to blow up their legacy. There are three good options for dealing with legacy beyond walking away from their legacy completely or getting burnt by legacy.


Remove Portions of Legacy:

If you want to lower the pain levels of maintaining legacy, there are ways of reducing the load. We all know there are processes and applications that are just plain dead weight in our legacy portfolios. There are a couple of ways to determine if the impact of removing legacy systems. One is just turn them off and wait for the screaming and downstream effects. For portions of legacy that are not mission critical this could work well. The other is to do an analysis of which data and systems will be impacted by the removal. This may be a light or heavyweight approach to portfolio analysis. I have done both with good results, but knowing the impact of each legacy piece is helpful.

Remodel Portions of Legacy:

There are obvious mission critical components in your legacy that could be remodeled for better livability. If one does a change analysis on a legacy portfolio the areas of frequent change will be obvious. These portions could be remodeling with great care as to not disturb the rest of the legacy components. Identifying business control points and doing volatility analysis for the most important or constrained is an effort with the investment. These volatile portions should be remodeled. I have learned that it is important to have business and IT types involved with analysis to get the best result.

Re Purpose Portions of Legacy:  

This is the fun category of legacy management in that you can leverage portions of the legacy portfolio and use the pieces in new contexts to attract new contexts with potential additional benefits. It could be a simple as putting an new mobile front end on a successful process or application or complex as identifying reusable portions of legacy and making them consumable by other processes and systems. The opportunities for wrapping and leveraging are usually rich and frequent and there is a lot of low hanging fruit.

Net; Net:

There is no one simple answer to deal with legacy in our transformation to digital and it will likely require a hybrid approach of all of the approaches above. Going digital should not have to be dragged back by legacy for the more successful organizations. The best will create an incremental transformation plan that leverages removal, refurbish and re purpose approaches. Best to all of you in your journey to digital while dealing with legacy.

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