I talk to clients all the time about their application modernization initiatives. And while they may have different reasons for modernizing their applications (e.g. legacy applications are too expensive and hard to change, some are constantly in fire-fight mode, others cannot support modern business needs for mobile, ease-of-use, 360 engagement), clients generally have a common set of questions about their application modernization initiatives:
Where do I start?
How do I know what to work on?
When do I work on it?
How do I fund it?
Do I have the right skills for it?
To help clients answer these questions, we’ve developed an application modernization blueprint. By guiding organizations through the work they need to do before launching an application modernization initiative, the blueprint helps them ensure they have a credible business case, practical solutions, actionable plans covering all of the modernization needs.
Step 1: Clarify, clarify, clarify
When you are contemplating launching an application modernization initiative, the very first thing you have to do is clarify your driving needs – the business case criteria and anything else valued beyond simply delivering today’s functionality.
Think beyond the obvious drivers and answer the bigger question: Once I have done whatever it is I think I need to do—whatever modernization or system improvement that may be—then how will I use it? I’m surprised by how many times we find our clients haven’t even asked this question. But when you can answer this question, then you will understand the real need and use for your project.
You have to start here. Don’t spend a dime until you’ve completed this step.
Step 2: Map it out
Once you understand what you will do with the modernized solution, move forward like you would with any strategy, and answer the next question: What is it going to take for me to get to the desired state? This is where you try to evaluate your current state, visualize the optimal future state and identify the gap between the two.
What you’re looking for is a clarified path to what is important to whom by when and for how much. What processes will you need to change? Do people need to be reorganized? What else do you have to adjust? Answering these questions will help you define the scope of the project as well as the need statement.
Step 3: Understand your constraints
At this point, you have to deal with constraints. The big ones are typically budget and time. Then there are the potential conflicts. Do you have conflicting goals that may prevent you from doing this work? Are the needed people or resources tied up with other priorities? Are there political hurdles you might have to face to move your project to the top of the list?
Now you begin the hard work of rationalizing and reconciling what’s practical and tactical with what you want to do strategically. Remember to look across the end-to-end modernization process from blueprinting through executive sign-off into the implementation releases and projects as you complete this analysis.
When you’ve completed these three steps, you’ll be ready to kick off your application modernization initiative.