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Problems To Avoid When Modernizing Legacy Systems

There are numerous opportunities made possible by modernizing your legacy systems. But not all projects maximize the potential value, impact, and return on investment. In this article, we cover the common pitfalls you will want to avoid when going down the path of modernizing your legacy system.

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Copying What You Already Have In A Newer Technology

As a modern world, we are constantly learning, growing, and changing. Software is no different. How software was built both internally with the code and externally for the users has changed significantly since your legacy system was built.

There are better ways to handle security, data processing, data storage, screen designs, user experience, workflows, and tasks.

Use this opportunity to see if you can accomplish the same goals and tasks as your existing system today, but in fewer steps, in a shorter period of time and with fewer mistakes.

Sometimes it is hard to see the possibilities when you are on the inside. It is perfectly normal to be biased towards how things have been done in the past.

Consider talking with a focus group, those in your network that you trust, or an outside consultant to come up with ideas on how you can approach your existing processes in a better way. Then take the time to design your new and improved system before developers start coding.

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Not Asking For Feedback From Existing Users

Your users are in the system day in and day out. Ask them what they think, what are their tasks, what are their current frustrations, and what would it take for the system to be a perfect 10 for them.

Another reason that you want to ask for feedback is to get user buy-in. Change is hard. Even with a better system, there will be a transitional period and some teething issues that users will have to contend with.

Start by getting your users involved and onboard early on with a sense of ownership and anticipation. It will pay dividends when the new system is rolled out.

Ignoring User Experience And Design

Thanks to Apple, users expect systems that enhance their experience and that are easy to use. Gone are the days where a developer writes the screens that users use.  Developers are trained to think about logic and efficiency. Efficiency to them is in terms of writing and maintaining code rather than thinking through how the user could perform their task intuitively and quickly.

Today there are user experience and usability designers who understand how your users think, and how to design the screens so your users intuitively know what to do.  Consider hiring or consulting with someone who can give you advice on your user experience and create the app design it for you.


Not Considering Your Technology Options

Technologies are constantly evolving. Your organization may be attached to open source, Microsoft or other technologies. During the period that you are designing your new application, examine what are the best technologies for the job that will take you well into the future.

Here are some questions to consider. Which technologies relative to your needs have the biggest communities, thought leadership, and trained resources in your area? Which technologies are on the up and which are on the down in terms of popularity?  What is happening in cloud infrastructure compared to on-premise hosting, and would you architect your applications differently to leverage one or the other?

Amazon Web Services is a great example changing the way applications are written with services such as Kinesis and Lambda among other things.


Not Appointing A Dedicated Project Owner

Replacing a legacy enterprise system will need focus and dedication from both the business and the development team to be successful. A project owner, also known as a product owner, is someone who is the spokesperson for the business and can make decisions, or get answers and information as needed.

A project owner keeps all parties moving forward, chases down loose ends, motivates and, when necessary, escalates so that the project stays a priority, does not drift and is ultimately delivered.


Redeveloping your legacy application is an opportunity to set your organization up for success in the future. Although you have a working application that can be used as a source of requirements, consider your redevelopment as a greenfield development effort. Be open to the possibility of something different and better.

Discovery, requirements, analysis, and design are all a part of the journey to create the next chapter for your application.

Reference: 6 Items That Are Non-Negotiable When Building Software

Before you get started in developing your software app, discover what is non-negotiable in building a successful software application. In this guide, we share how to build your application on a solid foundation from nearly twenty years of our own personal experience.

You can grab a copy of the guide below and share it with your team!

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