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How to modernise IT with minimal disruption
Thu, 9th Dec 2021
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Businesses constantly strive to be relevant to clients, resilient to shocks, and responsive to all market forces. But aging software and IT systems often serve to hinder these efforts.

Modernisation seems like the simple solution but putting that solution into practise isn't simple at all. Time-consuming, pricey and almost always complex, the path to modernisation can be strewn with a whole lot of landmines if you don't plan your route with a great deal of care.

Here are seven “coordinates” to consider while you sit down and map out your journey.

1: Consider all stakeholders

Business continuity is business critical and requires management, especially during the transition phase. Before you embark on the modernisation process, be sure to make a list of every team, customer or stakeholder that might be affected. Be proactive. Ask for feedback. Send out questions and make sure to get answers.

Once this list is complete, an internal, cross-functional team (consisting of, for instance, product managers, customer experience specialists, research and development, IT transformation teams, and operations) should meet regularly to confirm that each stakeholder's issues are being addressed – or, at the very least, disruption is kept to a minimum.

2: Map your value stream 

The bottom line is the bottom line, so always keep at least half an eye on it by focusing on business value chains and processes. This will also serve to maximise value and minimise risks during the coexistence phases of your old and new systems.

On a more specific level, it's generally a good idea to do all you can to prioritise the delivery of changes via value-stream mapping. This could mean a pilot of a few medium-risk, high-impact apps for example.

3: Monitor interfaces

Modernising your “technology estate” will invariably involve making changes to interfacing systems – and not just your own, but those of stakeholders and clients. These can include both batch-based systems, which exchange data files, or online transaction-processing systems.

So be sure to comprehensively identify all upstream and downstream interfaces long before your modernisation journey is underway. 
Any data format or other changes should ideally be handled by the system being modernised through appropriate data-enrichment mechanisms and data-quality checks.

4: Build a bridge 

It's vital that both old and new systems can co-exist – if only for a short time. More than anything, this involves giving a lot of thought to your data-management and integration strategies.

One such strategy might well involve creating an operational data repository as a “bridge” on the cloud. When the move to some more modernised systems is complete, this “bridge” can be decommissioned or repurposed for other requirements.

5: Use the bridge

Once you have factored in interfaces and built your “bridge”, turn your mind to what sorts of strategies and tech approaches will best route traffic between the old and the new.

Referring to the value stream you mapped back at step two will aid this by giving you an overview of client, functionalities, and data you're supporting – ultimately enabling you to route traffic to the right system, and deliver modernised capabilities to all end users.

6: Consider a shared digital infrastructure 

On a broader level, it pays to think deeply about digital infrastructure, and what might help your enterprise remain strong and secure. Infosys recommends an integrated, platform-based approach that creates a shared digital infrastructure. The two essential elements for this phase are cloud and partnerships.

The cloud is essential, because it can harness the power of DevSecOps, operational resilience and migration and modernization tools, and test automation to provide an enterprise-level view of all interventions.

Because of the scale and complexity of modernisation, companies should rely on a rich partner ecosystem. Ideally, this ecosystem will include startups, hyper-scalers, private cloud companies, and an array of partners that specialize in relevant products, tools, apps, platforms, security, data center, and digital transformation solutions and services.

7: Operating model

One final thing to consider before embarking on your modernisation journey is the type of operating model you want to adopt at the end. Infosys recommends one that encourages interaction between business operations and technology services, the transformation teams and innovation groups, and the business-as-usual application development team.

Such a model will help ensure processes and ways of working are harmonised across legacy and modernised systems, as well as across teams.

Explore insight on how zero-disruption modernisation works here.