Building Your Application Modernization Roadmap

Updating legacy systems and refreshing your processes can be huge undertakings. While it may seem tempting to rip off the digital tape and replace old systems overnight, the process requires a careful strategy to avoid data leaks, downtime, and service and service impacts. application reliability.

Legacy applications can be a huge burden on developers and security teams. DIY DevOps systems and unwieldy tool chains can be challenging in terms of fit and value, agility, cost, complexity and risk, all of which drive modernization. But it is better to take a step-by-step approach to modernizationrather than risk the growing pains that come with replacing systems too quickly.

Last month I discussed some of the cultural and structural challenges that arise when attempting to migrate from legacy systems. Here are some of the steps you can take to start your application modernization process, ensuring that safety and efficiency remain at the heart of the process.

Form a modernization team

Creating a dedicated team for this process ensures that other staff members can continue to focus on running the organization and delivering products and services to customers.

Start by selecting a few cross-functional team members who will be responsible for this business. Rather than having team members represent each stage of the software development lifecycle, create a cross-functional team that spans development, IT, and security functions. Additionally, consider adding a team member to accommodate any cultural changes your organization may need to undergo as part of this process.

Appointing a cross-functional team is the best way to ensure alignment and ongoing support throughout your application modernization efforts. Ensuring every department is represented on the team provides a more comprehensive view of the vision you seek to accomplish and brings together a variety of voices to identify potential weaknesses, improve processes, champion each team, and strategize on the how teams can better collaborate.

Map the development workflow

Does your workflow follow a logical order of operations or is it more like a patchwork of different tools, platforms and plugins? Now is the time to take a hard look at your toolchain and figure out how to reduce and simplify your processes and workflows.

Evaluate every tool used in every team and identify any dependencies. The more transfers present, the more software supply chain risk, and the more opportunities there are for breaches of company or customer data. Look for opportunities to simplify your tool chain, taking note of any non-company-issued tools used by individual team members that could potentially create additional handoffs or risk.

As you map out your development workflow, assess your current toolchains and processes by asking a few questions:

  • What is the status of each software initiative?
  • Which applications generate value for the company? Which are not?
  • How will your existing applications evolve to meet business needs over the next five to ten years?
  • Will critical applications be affected by a new application or tool?
  • Is any data at risk when migrating to a new application?
  • What kind of skills are needed in your team to keep pace with modern toolsets?

As you assess and streamline your existing workflows and tools, create strategic runbooks that outline processes across cross-functional teams, including security and compliance requirements such as logging, monitoring, and data classification .

Set small modernization goals

Avoid setting too many long-term goals and embrace minimum viable change, or MVC. By identifying the smallest possible steps you can take to begin the journey, you can reduce cycle times, meet changing needs, and adjust long-term plans with the feedback you receive along the way. This significantly reduces engineering and safety risks.

This is especially important when planning major milestones, such as retiring or migrating tools, updating existing solutions, or rolling out a team formation. Although these seem like overwhelming projects, small changes generally introduce fewer problems, creating a smoother process, allowing you to reach your end results much sooner.

Prioritize legacy data

If not prioritized, data loss can occur as a side effect of migrating to new platforms. Before launching the adoption of the tool, assess existing data in process, moving, and storing, and categorize them according to high, moderate, and low priority levels. Ensure specific safeguards are in place and understood by the entire team based on priority and type of data.

Take your time

Most importantly, take the time to assess the challenges you need to solve and identify new solutions that might help you solve them. The new tools are not a one-size-fits-all solution or a magic bullet. If not implemented with the intention of addressing existing challenges, they could create new problems.

As you begin this journey, also take the time to assess the bad habits at play, i.e. behaviors that duplicate data, tasks that could be automated, and actions that contribute to inefficiencies, transfers, data risks and security vulnerabilities. These practices often arise due to a lack of training or documentation.

Take note of the behaviors highlighted throughout the modernization process and use this clean slate as an opportunity to refresh habits and help create collaboration across teams.

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