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Featured 4th March, 2016  

5 signs hinting you to modernize your legacy app

By Noorul Ameen


When do you need to modernize your legacy application?

Traditionally App Modernization refers to the conversion of a legacy system to a modern computer programming language (eg. from COBOL to JAVA). However today when someone talks about “Modernizing their enterprise application”, he is primarily referring about multi-platform & multi-device enterprise grade solutions.

Usually when a legacy system gets modernized, it involves a large, multi-year project. Also owing to their critical nature in operations of most enterprises, getting it modernized all at once poses some operational risk. So it is safe to modernize the system incrementally. Eventually, the system is completely modernized.

It’s hard to let go of something successful. Many enterprise grade software systems have reliably served the needs of their businesses and the people who used them for decades.

But it’s inevitable that — at some point — old models, systems, and approaches will fail, or they will fail to keep abreast of the changing needs of an organization. Today’s business applications must support a range of business requirements in addition to providing meaningful metrics, and tying into other areas of the organization like sales.
Entrepreneurs call this transformation as “From the system of records” “To the system of differentiation & innovation”.

Here are 5 signs hinting you when you start thinking to evolve your enterprise software

1. The CXO is becoming a key decision maker

The demand for simple, easy-to-use and compelling user experiences is becoming a strong driver among the user community. Enterprises have realized that if end users do not embrace their new software system, they will miss opportunities or fail in their business goals.

So enterprise software must be designed with inputs from end users and those who strive to deliver the best experience for the users.

2. Focus on Value, not on Features

With the growing popularity of SaaS models, organizations feel purchasing these so-called “value packages” that serve their current needs (with a capability to scale) is easier. For a successful app modernization, the enterprise software needs to be designed and developed based on use cases and user tasks. This necessitates the designers and developers to be in constant touch on the product roadmap and its evolution. Every time a modern app is delivered, users need to feel its value proposition rather than a bunch of product features.

Inculcating the value of design in every process step has become the “need-of-the-hour” today. Lastly you must be able to organically grow this practice within the organization.

3. Mobility is now a basic requirement

While enterprises always have admin who spend some time at a desk to enter data via “traditional” software, many end users will be fitting tasks into moments of free time. They’ll be looking up customer and product information while going to a customer meeting, or requesting vacation time while waiting at the airport. Some users may have a work day that is almost entirely mobile and they’ll be doing most of their business tasks in this context.

This “mobile-first” approach in the design and development of enterprise software must accommodate the following

  1. Doing tasks quickly
  2. Be interruption tolerant so a task can be completed later and elsewhere
  3. Online connectivity may be hard to predict
  4. User can start a task on a mobile device and complete it later on a desktop at office

4. User engagement is turning up so important

Almost all software that is deployed at an organizational level has some need to measure user productivity. However users are productive only if they are engaged. The key is to develop a software solution that will keep the user engaged through simplicity and ease of use.

Enterprise software must be flexible enough to integrate business practices and user engagement. For example an intuitive and mobile-accessible timesheet application allows users to track their time efficiently and easily -with less time and less effort than returning to a browser to use cumbersome timesheet software.

5. User experience and technology are integral in driving success

Though evolving your enterprise software is ultimately a business decision, user experience design and technology have a major impact on this process. Many organizations fail to execute this evolution as they don’t realize the above. Some organizations consider only the business and technical aspects of a new, modern design and just “layer” the user experience on its top.

It’s absolutely necessary to get representatives from all key areas of the organization (business, technology, user experience) aligned with the goals of the product revamp.

So I conclude by saying that

today’s users, accustomed to the easy and intuitive experience of the best consumer apps, are demanding more. Organizations must take stock of what is happening in the broader enterprise market as they look to migrate, evolve, and adapt their own in-house legacy software systems.

So how should you go about modernizing your legacy application?

Read about my take on this in my next blog post. Meanwhile would love to hear what’s your thoughts.

This blog was originally published at Medium on 3rd Feb

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