time12 min read

These 5 Legacy System Migration Risks Can Turn Your Modernization Project Into A Nightmare

time12 min read

Application modernization is undoubtedly an ultimate lifesaver and a perfect choice when it comes to dealing with legacy systems. As technical debt becomes a bigger problem, more and more organizations will invest in it. And in the next 2 years, half of enterprise legacy applications will be modernized.

As popular and life-saving as it is, however, migrating legacy systems can also be an extremely stressful process. You might encounter many issues along the way and the worst thing that can happen is that you won’t be prepared to deal with them.

Let’s review the benefits of migration and the top-5 challenges in migrating legacy software systems to the cloud, on-premises, and other environments (as well as ways to handle them).

Reasons Why You Should Consider Migrating Your Legacy Software

Migration can deliver astonishing results to businesses if they choose the right environment for it. Let’s look at an example of migrating data to the cloud.

According to Microsoft Office 365, 59% of companies report a significant increase in productivity after migrating apps and services to the cloud. 94% report security benefits after migration, and 82% claim to have reduced expenses. On average, IT professionals save 20% due to the migration of hosting services and productivity apps.

With all the biggest challenges it can bring, data migration is still very much worth it, and there are many reasons why you should consider doing it.

legacy system migration risks

Enhanced Security

The older your technology is, the more vulnerable it is to constant cyber-attacks, viruses, and data loss. Legacy applications often lack a reliable backup or recovery plan as well. Because your business’s data and systems security are always exposed to risk, you have to examine your business’s technology for vulnerabilities once in a while, as well as invest money and time in threat prevention.

Migrating data to modernized platforms can help you take advantage of the latest security measures compatible with those platforms and protect your business from potential security breaches while saving resources on more frequent turnarounds at the same time. Cloud providers invest heavily in security measures such as encryption, firewalls, and access controls to protect their customers’ data.

Read more: 5 Signs that You are Facing Legacy Software and How to Deal With It

Cost Savings

Maintaining legacy systems can be very expensive since it requires specialized knowledge and resources. As technology evolves, the price for maintenance increases while the services your older system provides stay the same. You also have to invest in the resources that will have to be updated sooner or later, which can cost you more money if you keep delaying what needs to be done.

By migrating to newer technologies, your business can reduce maintenance and operational IT costs and take advantage of emerging technology that can help streamline your business processes.

Improved Performance

Legacy software can often be slow, unreliable, and prone to crashes. Constantly having to reboot your devices, using an inconvenient data storage system, and not having compatibility with modern solutions are some of the signs of legacy technology that can slow down your business operations.

By migrating to newer and more efficient technologies, you can improve system performance and reduce downtime, while increasing productivity and profitability.

Increased Scalability and Flexibility

Legacy systems often have limitations in handling growing amounts of data and users. In contrast, modernized platforms can scale up or down quickly and easily, depending on the demand. This means that companies can expand their operations without worrying about the capacity of their IT systems.

It would be a good idea to migrate to cloud-based platforms since they are much more flexible than legacy systems. With an enterprises legacy system, upgrades and changes can often be expensive and time-consuming. Cloud-based platforms can be updated and modified quickly and easily, allowing organizations to adapt to changing business needs.

Competitive Advantage

Migrating to new technological solutions can help you take advantage of the latest features and capabilities, allowing you to stay competitive in your industry and meet the evolving needs of your customers.

You will be able to capture marketing insights a lot faster, boost your reputation, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, reimagine and improve your business products or services, and so on.

5 Challenges That You Might Face When Migrating Legacy Systems And How You Can Solve Them

Migrating legacy technology is kind of like playing Jenga. It can be complex, challenging, and disastrous if you make one wrong move. Various issues and obstacles come along the way. Their importance depends on the scope of the software migration process, the condition and nature of legacy systems, the technical resources needed to be invested, and so on. To prevent mistakes and resource losses, you have to know how to deal with problems in migrating legacy systems to the cloud or other environments before facing them.

Let’s take a look at 5 of the legacy system migration challenges and some of the ways to deal with them.

legacy system migration challenges

The Complexity Of The Legacy System

Usually, legacy systems are old and complex. Imagine how much time and effort it took to build them! According to the United States Government Accountability Office report, the age of most critical federal legacy systems at agencies ranging from Defense to the Treasury is between 8 and 51 years old.

Over the years, the existing applications ecosystem has become a vast network of protocols, files, features, formats, API available, and so on. Years of work by different developers must be assessed, organized, and updated. Testing, modernizing, validating, and sustaining the technology is quite a process challenge.

In addition to this, data migration performed carelessly can lead to corruption which can result in downtime. It can require considerable amounts of resources invested in data recovery, not to mention the risk of tarnishing the reputation of the business. In other words, migrating legacy systems can be very detrimental if it’s done all at once.

One way to mitigate risk is to encourage businesses to thoroughly assess their legacy systems together with service providers by identifying any technical challenges that could arise during the software migration process. This assessment should include identifying dependencies, integrations, and potential compatibility issues with the target platform.

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Make sure your data can be extracted safely. One way to do this is by testing a small sample of it for errors before loading the rest. For example, you can divide it into equivalence clusters since data can be heterogeneous but still grouped by different indicators. Then, check the integrity of each cluster separately. It would also help to devise a detailed strategy to execute the data migration process step-by-step so there will be no serious disruption in the workflow.

Furthermore, you should work with your service provider to simplify the workflow and avoid errors by using data migration tools, plugins, and techniques, that is, the process of data mapping (matching fields from one database to another). It can help you visualize and connect the data pieces just like maps to maintain accuracy and make it more understandable.

Read more: 7 Data Migration Risks and How to Avoid Them

Post Migration

Modernization doesn’t stop after migrating legacy systems. When technology is updated, you must work on change management, a process of integrating new technologies into the final business processes. This includes training the employees, changing operational activities, reorganizing the workflow, and so on.

To prepare for this stage, you may need to work with a service provider on creating end-user documentation, support center guides, and help desks by putting together the correct UX when working on the design, etc. You should also keep a backup and continuity plan. Your system has to be maintained and checked on once in a while so it won’t become obsolete too soon. This is why you should always make sure your team is well-trained.

Avoiding Budget Overruns

Maintaining legacy systems can be very expensive, but migrating them can also be resource-intensive, which requires significant time, money, and investment expertise. While transferring legacy technology, you could discover a budget overrun. Money is usually wasted when businesses don’t plan and don’t prioritize conscientiously.

To avoid overspending, you should plan and allocate resources carefully. Identify the necessary skills and expertise, establish a project timeline and budget, and ensure that stakeholders are engaged and informed throughout the process.

When calculating the budget for the project, consider the expenses for the personnel who will be working on the project, the cloud technologies (if applicable), employee training, the development work, etc.. You should make sure you will have enough money to cover the estimated costs. Whenever possible, you should allocate the money by prioritizing technology that will pay for itself sooner. Use Gartner’s Business Value Model as a tool for performing a Cost-Benefit Analysis.

Usually, businesses choose the CapEx (Capital Expenditures) approach to distributing their finances, wishing to spend an established amount of money once and forget about it afterward. However, OpEx (Operational Expenditures) approach is much more effective. By allocating the monthly budget, for example, you entrust the service provider to make the most of the given resources while staying flexible to adjustments and choosing what works better regarding budget and workflow during that particular period of time. This is less overwhelming, more productive, and gives you better value for money results.Serhii Kopeikin, COO at Maven Solutions

User Adoption

While modernizing updates is essential for the sake of technology, you should not forget about your end users and their experience. Legacy systems have established features and user interfaces familiar to employees and clients. Whether these features are convenient or not, people are used to utilizing them. Whenever you make changes, you always risk leaving your target audience unsatisfied.

Read more: How to Outsource Software Development Right. 12 Reliable Tips from a 12-Year-Old Provider

However, it is almost impossible to predict people’s reaction to upgrades. To mitigate the risk of failure, you should allow end-users to participate early on in the migration process by letting them solicit their feedback and input to ensure that the new environment will meet their needs. An honest critique will help you determine which application modernization strategy option is best and how deeply you will need to go into it.

Remember to provide support for employees to help them adapt to the new system. Communicate the importance of cloud migration and all the changes that come with it, and ask them some questions on technology issues that hinder the workflow. Make the transition as easy as possible, so everyone is on the same page and involved in the modernization process.

Compatibility Issues

As different developers have worked on your technology over the years, they may likely have solved issues, added features, changed settings, or even neglected to do anything on your systems. This can eventually develop into a complex hierarchy of various solutions. Any of these variations may have been customized using different tools and approaches that were most suitable to solve crucial issues at that time without seriously considering what the repercussions will be in the long-term.

When moving legacy technology because of this, you might discover compatibility issues when your old system is not compatible to the one that is being migrated to. This increases the amount of time and effort that has to be spent on application modernization.

To minimize the risk of errors (which could increase the cost of modernization), you have to assess and categorize the application elements during the inception phase, reveal conflicts, and seek workable solutions before starting the development.

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What Is The CEO’s Role After Your Migration Process Is Complete?

legacy system migration risks

Setting The Vision

The CEO should set the vision for how a modernized application can support the organization’s overall strategic objectives and communicate them to all stakeholders, as well as employees, customers, and investors in order to ensure everyone is aligned with the value and benefits of the modernization initiative.

Driving Adoption

This means ensuring that all employees are trained and equipped to use the new on-premises or cloud environment and understand its benefits. The CEO should encourage employees to provide feedback on the application and ensure that this feedback is taken into account when making improvements.

Monitoring Performance

You should closely monitor the modernized application’s performance to ensure it delivers the expected benefits. You should also track metrics such as user adoption rates, efficiency gains, and customer satisfaction while making adjustments when necessary to optimize performance.

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Managing Risks

The CEO should be aware of any potential legacy system migration risks and take steps to mitigate them. Manage all main risks to ensure security, make sure the application complies with relevant law regulations, and oversee any disruption to operations during the modernization process.

Leading Innovation

Finally, the CEO should emphasize the importance of a successful modernization initiative to inspire a culture of innovation within the organization. This means encouraging employees to think creatively and to identify opportunities to improve business processes, products, and services.

Summing up

Migrating legacy applications to eliminate technical debt and receive the benefits it offers is a crucial step for your business’s development. However, many obstacles can increase the risk of the process. To avoid them, you must know what challenges of migration of legacy systems can come your way and how to overcome them before beginning the development process. One of the ways to think through all the details is by preparing a contingency plan and establishing a detailed business case for the migration of legacy together with your service provider.

How can Maven Solutions facilitate the process of legacy system migration for you? Having more than 13 years of experience in the market and 100+ successful projects, we have created our own business case plan, which takes into account all possible details so that you can eliminate risk to the minimum and benefit from application modernization to the maximum.

We understand the nightmare of the challenges mentioned above and know how to facilitate the process from our own experience. Contact us so we can help you prosper.


Why Modernize Legacy Systems?

Legacy systems modernization saves maintenance costs, enhances security, improves performance, increases scalability and flexibility, as well as helps you rise in competitiveness. On the contrary, not modernizing leaves you with technology that hinders business processes,

What Is the Main Drawback of Legacy Systems?

The main drawback of legacy systems is their obsolescence and the challenges they pose to business processes.

Are Legacy Systems Still in Use?

Yes, many organizations still use legacy systems. Sometimes, replacing them is not resource-effective. In other cases, companies risk by waiting to execute modernization later.

What Challenges Do Legacy Systems Pose for Enterprise System Integration?

Some of the main challenges being posed are the complexity of the legacy system, budget overruns, issues with compatibility, unpredicted user adoption, and post-migration integration.

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