OutSystems Legacy Systems Modernisation with Low Code
How to modernise legacy systems. As of June 2018, 93 percent of organisations have plans to pursue digital business transformation, but 58 percent of organizations are in stage 2 or 3 (out of 5 stages). They are running digital projects and making progress, but not generating the headway required to achieve the larger goal of digital transformation.
Aging legacy systems are crippling IT’s ability to innovate and bring new value to the business. And still, IT is expected to deliver new apps for customers or partners. But how can they do that when saddled with squeaky-wheel systems that consume massive amounts of time, budget, and resources? It’s time to rethink the notion that enterprises must limp along, babying these behemoths as part of business as usual.
Barring financial constraints, there are two main things that IT teams need for success:
- Agility: The ability to adapt every part of your business to the changing needs of the market, technology, and your customers. This includes everything from back-end operations to front-end user experiences.
- Omnipresence: Meeting your audience wherever they are. For many organizations, this is a combination of physical locations plus digital experiences that look and feel seamless regardless of medium.
If these two things are all it takes to be successful, what is preventing organizations from doing them? Two words: legacy gridlock.
Legacy gridlock is hampering digital innovation in organizations around the world. Here’s why.
Legacy Systems Slow Development
The negative effects of aging legacy systems include ratcheting up the backlog count by reducing development speed. A typical app on iTunes has about 50,000 lines of code, and data analytics firm CAST estimates the average application has approximately 300,000 lines of code.2 And most companies have 10 or more of these on their “to-do” lists. Development efforts are hampered by the massive amount of time it takes to design apps to integrate with legacy systems and research all the dependencies involved. According to the OutSystems State of Application Development 2018 report, legacy system integration and the development of APIs slow down app development for 60 percent of IT organizations.
The Legacy System Talent Pool Is Shrinking
Many studies agree: the talent who can maintain legacy systems and build apps for them is a rapidly shrinking pool. The resources and knowledge it takes to care for and write code for older systems are disappearing due to age or attrition. How many COBOL, PL/I, ABAP, and Lotus Notes programmers do you know?
Then there’s the fact that app development isn’t a learn-a-technology-once-deliver-forever initiative. It’s an ongoing upgrade, requiring regular acquisition specialty skills covering UI/UX design, security, platform architecture, and more. Those who can use these skills to build modern apps aren’t going to be able to easily write code that integrates them into a 15-year-old ERP. Even if organizations are lucky to find one of these one-in-a-million “specialists,” they come with a high price tag. And, agility and delivery can still suffer from delays and oversight.
The Costs of Maintaining Legacy Systems Is Sky High
Another statistic from the State of Application Development report is that 70–80 percent of an organization’s development efforts are spent on maintenance of existing systems rather than on innovative new apps and features. The CAST study assigns a average of $3.61 of technical debt for each released line of code. The math on that amounts to more than $1 million in carry over costs associated with fixing problems that remain in released software in an average enterprise application. Maintaining older systems focuses budget and resources on solutions designed for yesterday’s business environment, not today’s or tomorrow’s. New integration opportunities, new designs and layouts, and new talent hires all get side lined in favour of keeping the lights on. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 74 percent of all IT budgets in government use “all of their funds on operations and maintenance.”
Legacy Systems Add to Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt
Here is a startling fact: 14 percent of all IT projects fail completely.4 CIOs are natural-born risk-takers; it comes with the territory. That doesn’t mean it’s easy. Digital transformation efforts—essentially moving away from what’s tried and true and doing something very different with no benchmarks—require lots of supporting data. Ultimately, it’s an educated leap of faith. But nothing is guaranteed, and word travels fast. Per Gartner, 75 percent of all ERP projects fail to meet deadline goals, and this is the year that enterprises will insist on post-modern ERP project deployments that deliver proven value in less than two years.
Any one of these four reasons associated with legacy gridlock could serve as a pointing finger for why an organization hasn’t taken advantage of the benefits of modernization. Together, they paint a bleak picture for established companies and portend big possibilities for smaller, more nimble entrants not bogged down in legacy systems and processes.
Is Your Organization Ripe for a Revamp?
- Knowing now what others are experiencing, how can you tell if it’s time to consider a digital modernization effort in your organization?
- Your business is being disrupted by more nimble competitors.
- Your backlog is increasing despite increases in staff.
- Development times are long and getting longer (more than three months).
- Innovative development efforts comprise a very small portion of total activities.
- Finding talent with skills to support existing systems and help develop new apps is getting more difficult.
- Agile and DevOps returns have stalled despite continued investment.
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