Getting business buy-in for your legacy modernisation project

Legacy systems are often more costly and dangerous to the business than running modernised technology, yet getting business buy-in can be tricky

March 25, 2015
Grant Finnemore, GuruHut CEO

Grant Finnemore, GuruHut CEO

Legacy systems are often more costly and dangerous to the business than running modernised technology, yet getting business buy-in can be tricky.

Modernising existing working technology is a great way to create business value and can provide companies with a competitive advantage.

But many businesses are put off by time, cost and effort required to modernise legacy systems.

“For your legacy modernisation project to be successful, the business needs to buy into the idea,” says Grant Finnemore, GuruHut CEO.

“Modernisation is hard, costly and is investing into things you already have. It’s not new business, so it needs to be justified.

Pick the right projects

Finnemore suggests taking a close look at your applications, especially those older than 30 years, deciding which ones would benefit most from modernisation.

“Business value represents applications that are frequently used by end users, high volume, high risk, and are business differentiators, such as those with a competitive advantage. Look for the value,” he says.

Some applications may no longer be valuable or essential to your business. If you intend to replace it, then you can let it die or merely maintain it. But if it still holds business value then it needs to be actively improved.

Consider return on investment

Carefully consider if the cost of development will exceed the value to the business.

If the modernization project can reduce the total cost of ownership by delivering return on investment quite quickly, getting business buy-in will be much easier.

Increasing agility is also critical, as lengthy development timelines will increase the cost and decrease the value of the project.

“It’s a journey, and you won’t get everything done all at once. Rather focus on constant improvement. But some stuff is critical and you need to identify early on what the critical elements of your design are and get that right up front,” says Finnemore.

Have clear goals

Because modernisation is often hard and requires extensive planning and capability by IT, there must be clear reasons for change.

In the same way that other management groups are asked to report on specific initiatives, IT managers need to be prepared to prove the worth of modernisation projects to their businesses.

For this reason, Finnemore suggests involving people who have done modernisation projects before, either in your team or organisation or external parties.