Modernization is a bright idea for legacy software

How do you know it’s time to modernize a legacy application?

Diminished business outcomes

The truest driver for strategic capital expenditures is a company asset that doesn’t help the organization achieve its strategic outcomes. In relation to legacy custom software this can take the form of sluggish performance, buggy systems or poor user experiences. Legacy systems that are not adaptable to current business needs are prime targets for modernization.

Out of control technical debt

Ward Cunningham, hugely influential computer scientist, is generally credited with coining the term “technical debt”. Likened to going into financial debt – a little debt speeds development but danger occurs when the debt is not repaid. Legacy systems in need of modernization can easily tip into budgets dominated by technical debt “interest payments”.

Technical debt smells

The following are several classic signs of legacy software suffering from a high level of technical debt:

  • Simple Functional Changes or Additions Take a Long Time
    You have determined that you need to add two simple fields to your application; your development team greets you with pained looks and/or racks several days of work to make the change.
  • Bug Fixes Take a Long Time
    A problem comes in from the field that your application is rendering a key page in poor form on smartphones. The bug takes three days, senior dev staff is called in and extensive late hours are put in.
  • Code Changes for Small Additions Frequently Lead to Bugs
    During the addition of the “two simple fields”, three reports break and the data update feature breaks. Seemingly unrelated features regress to broken states for no apparent reason.
  • Application Operates Slower Than It Used To
    You use your app for day-to-day work and the slowdown from how it worked a year ago is palpable. Workarounds mount and inefficient legacy code is dominating the application, bringing it to a crawl.

Direct & tangible benefits of modernized software

Just as the story of how a legacy system came to be in need of modernization is varied, the specific benefits to expect from each engagement will differ.  However, here are a few things you can expect.

Application users will be more effective in their use of the application and take advantage of the added modern design and UI features

Quicker overall responsiveness and less time for long-running tasks will enable users to get their jobs done quicker

A modern responsive web design will make your application functional on desktops, phones and tablets – meeting your users where they live

With a controllable level of technical debt, your modernized application will become more predictable in operation, issue fewer alerts and be easier to work on

Reduced technical debt will also make application developers more able to move in the directions you need to take the application – quickly and smoothly

Tricks of the modernization trade

Bringing a large enterprise system is definitely not for the feint of heart; the following are some principles MercuryWorks follows:

  • Slow and Steady Wins the Race
    When it comes to software, we recommend that you leave the Big Bang to science class. A paced and concerted effort over time wins the day here.
  • Keep What You Can
    Every legacy system is different but there is often one tier that can be kept and evolved – most frequently it is the data tier but from time to time more is possible.
  • Automate Tests BEFORE Making Changes
    Legacy systems and sparse test automation go hand-in-hand; up unit and integration tests so you know when you break something during modernization.
  • Up the UI Game
    Added sophistication in front end frameworks has been notable over the last five+ years. Legacy systems are typically lacking in this area: get after it.

MercuryWorks Application Modernization examples

Gulf Winds operates an expansive legacy system made up of MySQL, PHP, Perl and pre-HTML5 markup. Modernization is providing a new lease on this key system.
Learn more >

i9 Sports’ robust but legacy desktop-oriented software drives their national youth sports leagues.  Now they are driving into the 2020s with a modernized, mobile-optimized system.
Learn more >

Franklin Street’s enterprise software modernization was performed without disrupting the day-to-day operations of the multiple divisions that are driven by it.
Learn more >

Have key software in need of modernization?

Then reach out to MercuryWorks to modernize your application.  With careful analysis and prudent technical research, we will put together a plan to refresh and refit your key custom software.

Whether you’re saddled with legacy technology, large technical debt or on-premises systems in need of refitting for the cloud, we’ve got you covered.

Contact Us