3 min

Getting Started with Application Modernization

Organizations can unlock significant benefits by modernizing their apps, but they need to start with a well-planned roadmap.

We’ve seen countless businesses achieve cost savings and performance improvements via app modernization efforts. But for organizations that have been running the same legacy applications for many years, it can be difficult to know where to begin. 

Here are five tips for IT and business leaders looking to get started with app modernization.

1. Identify Pain Points in the App Modernization Process

“What problems am I trying to solve?” This is the first question that IT and business leaders must ask themselves before they begin modernizing a platform. Legacy applications might be plagued by performance problems, or data might not be readily accessible, or existing apps might be creating unacceptable security vulnerabilities. By identifying existing pain points, organizations can ensure that their app modernization initiatives stay on course and result in tangible value. 

2. Look for New Opportunities to Create Value

Fixing problems is important — even essential — but it is also an inherently reactive process. Once organizations have addressed the glaring pain points in their legacy apps, they should proactively seek ways to create additional value. Often, this will come from adding new features or enhancing existing capabilities. One big benefit of app modernization is that it results in more agile software programs and development methods, allowing teams to release updates whenever they identify an area for improvement. Organizations should take advantage of this improved time-to-market and continually seek out ways to improve the user experience.

3. Start with Smaller Problems

One of the biggest mistakes organizations make during app modernization — really, in most IT initiatives — is they try to “boil the ocean.” Typically, organizations that experience the greatest success are those that start by solving bite-sized problems and then continue to build on their early wins. By starting small, IT shops can demonstrate the value of app modernization and create internal support, and even excitement, for their efforts. Starting small will deliver faster results and will also give an organization more freedom to experiment, without the risk associated with a large investment. 

4. Focus on Business Outcomes

We all have a tendency to see things through the lens of our own work. Often, this means that app development and modernization teams are focused on the app itself, rather than the business outcomes that an app makes possible. This is especially true for larger organizations, whose development teams are often siloed — and, therefore, hyperfocused on the tech behind a very specific process. App developers are smart people, and when they’re left to their own devices, they will continue to build out new, innovative software features. And when explicitly tasked with improving business outcomes, they will apply their talents toward those goals.

5. Leverage Partner Expertise

When an organization is just starting out on its app modernization journey, IT and business leaders simply don’t know what they don’t know. By leaning on a trusted partner like CDW, businesses not only get a fresh set of eyes on their app environments, but also leverage the expertise accumulated from years of helping countless companies with their app modernization efforts. When they reach out for advice early in the process, IT and business leaders can avoid repeating the same mistakes their peers have made, and this will set their organizations up for success.

Story by Brian McBride, who is the leader of the application and architecture team at IGNW, a CDW company. He develops solutions, solves customer problems and experiments with better ways to build, deploy and manage software solutions.