Legacy System Modernisation: A Strategic Guide for SMEs and Large Businesses

Legacy System Modernisation: A Strategic Guide for SMEs and Large Businesses

Modernising legacy systems is essential for businesses of all sizes, as outdated technology can severely hinder growth and innovation. However, the path to modernisation can vary significantly depending on whether you're a small-to-medium enterprise (SME) or a large company. So, let's explore the best ways to modernise legacy systems for SMEs and large businesses. We will discuss the key modernisation approaches to consider and our opinion on what works best for your business size. We will assess potential roadblocks to consider and provide you with a decision-making framework to help you make the right legacy system modernisation approach!

The Modernisation Toolkit – Key Approaches to Consider

#1 Cloud Migration

Migrating your legacy systems to the cloud offers numerous benefits, such as improved scalability, reduced IT overhead, and enhanced data security. Cloud migration is particularly advantageous for SMEs, as it allows them to access enterprise-grade technology without significant upfront investments.

#2 Application Replatforming

Replatforming involves moving your legacy applications to a new platform with minimal changes to their core functionality. This approach can be a cost-effective way to extend the lifespan of your existing applications while benefiting from modern technology infrastructure.

#3 Application Refactoring 

Refactoring entails reworking your existing applications to improve their internal structure and make them more adaptable to new technologies. This approach is suitable for businesses that wish to retain their current systems while optimising them for better performance and compatibility.

#4 Application Replacement

Replacing your legacy applications with new solutions can be an effective way to modernise your technology stack, particularly if your existing systems are no longer meeting your needs. This approach is often ideal for large corporations that require advanced, industry-specific tools to maintain a competitive edge.

SMEs – Navigating the Modernisation Maze

For small-to-medium enterprises, modernising legacy systems can be a daunting task, with limited resources and budget constraints being significant obstacles. However, the right approach can enable SMEs to overcome these challenges and achieve tangible benefits.

Key Considerations for SMEs

When deciding on the best modernisation approach, SMEs should consider the following factors:

  • Budget: Determine the resources you can allocate to the modernisation process, and choose an approach that fits your budget constraints.
  • Scalability: Consider whether the chosen approach can accommodate your future growth and allow you to adapt quickly to changing business needs.
  • Integration: Ensure the new technology can integrate seamlessly with your existing systems and processes.
  • Support: Opt for solutions that come with reliable support services to help you navigate the modernisation journey.

Best Modernisation Approach for SMEs – Cloud Migration

For most SMEs, cloud migration is the optimal modernisation approach, as it offers a cost-effective, scalable, and flexible solution. By leveraging cloud-based technologies, SMEs can access advanced tools and capabilities previously reserved for large corporations, enabling them to compete on a more level playing field.

Large Corporations – Tackling the Legacy System Behemoth

For large businesses, the process of modernising legacy systems can be highly complex, involving multiple stakeholders, vast IT infrastructure, and intricate organisational processes. Consequently, large organisations must adopt a strategic and methodical approach to ensure a successful modernisation outcome.

Key Considerations for Large Businesses

When choosing the best modernisation approach, large corporations should take into account the following factors:

  • Organisational priorities: Align your modernisation efforts with your company's strategic objectives and long-term goals.
  • Risk management: Assess the potential risks associated with each modernisation approach, and develop contingency plans to mitigate these risks.
  • Stakeholder buy-in: Engage key stakeholders, including senior management and employees, to secure their support and involvement in the modernisation process.
  • Change management: Develop a comprehensive change management plan to help your organisation adapt to the new systems and processes.

Best Modernisation Approach for Large Corporations – A Hybrid Strategy

For most large corporations, a hybrid approach that combines elements of cloud migration, application replatforming, refactoring, and replacement is the optimal solution. This tailored strategy allows companies to modernise their technology stack in a way that addresses their unique needs, complexities, and goals.

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Choosing the Right Approach – A Decision-Making Framework

#1 Assess Your Current State: Begin by thoroughly auditing your existing systems, processes, and infrastructure. Identify inefficiencies, bottlenecks, and areas that require improvement.

#2 Define Your Goals: Clearly articulate your modernisation objectives, including improving customer experience, increasing efficiency, reducing costs, or enhancing security.

#3 Evaluate Your Options: Carefully assess the pros and cons of each modernisation approach, considering factors like cost, time, risk, and alignment with your organisation's needs and goals.

#4 Make an Informed Decision: Based on your assessment, choose the modernisation approach that best aligns with your organisation's unique requirements, resources, and objectives.

#5 Plan and Execute: Develop a detailed implementation plan outlining the steps and resources needed to achieve your modernisation goals. Ensure stakeholders' buy-in and a comprehensive change management strategy to facilitate a smooth transition.

The journey to modernise legacy systems can be challenging, but with the right approach, businesses can unlock significant benefits, including improved efficiency, reduced costs, increased agility, and a more competitive edge. By carefully considering your organisation's unique needs and resources, you can choose the best modernisation approach that will propel your SME or large business into a successful, technology-driven future.

Looking for a Legacy System Modernisation Partner? 

Our unique Team-as-a-Service approach builds a team of digital experts around your needs and budget. Acting as a stand-alone team or an extension of yours, we partner to modernise your legacy technology at speed and within budget:

  • Legacy systems audit: We can help you assess the state of your legacy technology to uncover efficiency problems, understand how you manage your data, reveal security vulnerabilities and identify opportunities to lower costs. We will then help you choose the right modernisation approach and create a legacy system modernisation strategy built around your needs.
  • Legacy systems integrations: We can help you integrate your legacy systems with your ERP, CRM and other cloud applications. We connect your data from your on-premises system to the cloud enabling you to increase performance, access buried data and eliminate financial inefficiencies.
  • Custom front-end experiences for legacy systems: In many cases, the back-end of the legacy technology works fine, but the interface is outdated and becomes hard to use. We can create a new interface for your legacy component, making it easily accessible to other software components via an API. This does not change the code of your legacy technology, allowing you to leverage the existing application features and extend its value.
  • Re-platforming legacy systems: We can take your legacy system's components to a new platform with similar characteristics and features. We make minimal code changes to adapt to the new platform without fundamentally changing the structure or the system's features and function. By re-platforming to new software, you take advantage of reduced infrastructure costs, and better functionality with minimal effort, continuing to receive value from your legacy investment.
  • Updating, maintaining and supporting legacy systems: We can help you update and improve the configuration of the legacy technology to solve technical problems. We can then maintain the updated and more efficient solution at a lower cost allowing you to avoid system failures, security breaches and maintenance cost escalations.