Modernizing Government Legacy Systems – 3 Steps To Do It!

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Written By Berry Mathew

The process of modernization involves making changes to a system to keep it “fit for purpose.”

All governmental entities must better modernize outmoded, inefficient legacy systems to serve citizens, employees, and other stakeholders. Government organizations can stop the cycle of sustaining outdated technology by affordably updating their systems and applications.

Government agencies use mission-critical systems or technologies to deliver vital social services, public safety, financial operations, transportation, and utilities. Old legacy systems, techniques, and skill sets make it challenging to meet the expectations of these essential services and constituents when digital platforms are required to achieve this. At this point, replacing antiquated government systems with more scalable ones becomes increasingly paramount. Integrate legacy systems with modern technology that adhere to financial limitations to escape this vicious cycle.

As the world’s recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, state and local IT managers must consider a fresh set of modernization objectives. The need to update legacy systems is becoming more pressing due to the requirement to increase digital offerings and accommodate changing work styles. The pandemic altered the state and municipal governments’ risk assessment for technological advancements. The upgrading of legacy technology is viewed through a fresh lens in 2021 after a significant shift to remote work, an increase in user-friendly digital services, and the numerous alterations the coronavirus caused to particular agencies. 

Government agencies can modernize outdated systems with minimal expenditures or disruptions while cost-effectively and efficiently prolonging the lifespan of legacy systems. In this article, we have outlined three key ways government organizations can use low code power, adaptability, and integration-smoothness to overcome typical problems that modernization initiatives cause, such as the need to hire qualified developers and the requirement to rip and replace systems.

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What is Legacy System Modernization?

The process of updating or strengthening an enterprise’s current digital platform with the aid of contemporary technologies that may support future digital activities is known as legacy modernization or legacy application modernization.

Legacy systems are a mainstay of many excellent organizations. They use software, apps, and IT solutions that are essential to the operation of the business but are out-of-date and, in some circumstances, no longer supported by the original vendor or software developer. Legacy systems gradually develop flaws, faults, and other problems that might reduce your revenue. To obtain a competitive edge, you must eliminate outdated technology and digitally modernize your business processes. It resembles a modern software upgrade in many ways. The legacy transformation combines the effectiveness of out-of-date business programs with contemporary software and technology to provide a more stable platform.

A legacy system must be converted into a modern architecture to reduce costs and improve agility, collaboration, and consistency. This encourages a solid business foundation and inevitably increases the automation and productivity of company activities. Legacy modernization is essential when organizations are considering starting their path toward digital transformation because maintaining an updated, current system is necessary for the company’s expansion. 

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Why Is Legacy System Modernization in Businesses Important for a Government?

Many of the government’s IT systems need to be updated to offer citizens improved services, even though some are decades old and still function reasonably well. When examining the demands of IT modernization broadly, managers stand to gain the most from two crucial areas. One is in applications, which provide citizens with opportunities and services that are both essential and routine. The other is the basic technical foundation that makes these services possible.

Modernizing legacy government systems primarily involves three short-term goals.

  • Adopting an open hybrid cloud strategy, popular among commercial businesses, will encourage the transformation of government IT architectures that is both long-lasting and sustainable. This gives more flexibility for the government’s continuously changing needs while lowering the cost and complexity of upgrading.
  • Government CIOs should play a significant role in creating and implementing a plan to determine the best modernization choices for crucial systems. Government IT leaders need more power to decide where to invest in IT modernization due to the increasing demands on their systems.
  • Use commercially available technology to your advantage. Off-the-shelf software and services can assist federal agencies in handling regular, low-risk tasks, freeing up staff to concentrate on more complicated issues. The processing of benefits applications, financial management, and call center automation already make use of this technology. 

How to Modernize the Government Legacy System?

Governments must prioritize innovation and transformation. To better serve everyone, they should employ technology to make their services more effective and efficient.

Replacing outmoded methods, skill sets, and legacy technology impeding an agency’s capacity to carry out its purpose is known as government IT modernization. More than ever, many agencies have to deal with this crucial procedure. Modernization is an essential long-term approach to lower overall IT expenses, in addition to difficulties with enhancing security, operational effectiveness, and staff productivity.

Technology has become an integral part of every company, including the government. The best businesses in the private sector are constantly innovating and updating. Similarly, governments must transform into citizen-focused, quick-response tech enterprises. Numerous crucial legacy systems at government organizations use out-of-date programming languages, unsupported hardware, and functioning with known security flaws.

The legacy system is relatively simple to modernize. Here are some crucial actions to update the outdated political structure.

Step 1: Evaluate Legacy Systems Using the Main Drivers for Application Modernization

The legacy application should be upgraded if it doesn’t assist in the success or address the business requirements of today’s competitive environment. It’s also time to update if the application increases the total cost of ownership or poses an unnecessary risk. Overall, the advantages of updating legacy programs increase with the number of drivers. These six drivers primarily fuel the modernization of applications. These are the problems, issues, or obstacles the legacy application has produced due to its technology, architecture, or functionality. The modernization possibilities with the most potential from an IT and business standpoint are those with various drivers.

  • Business fit, business value, and agility are three drivers from a business standpoint. If the legacy application does not match the new requirements set by digital enterprises, it must be effectively modernized to fit and improve to deliver higher business value. Applications that can’t adapt quickly enough to meet digital business expectations could be expensive or perilous.
  • Cost, complexity, and risk are the other three driving factors from an IT standpoint. A significant upgrade becomes necessary if the total cost of ownership is too high, the technology is too complicated, or security, compliance, support, or scalability are being jeopardized.

Step 2: Evaluating Modernization from an IT Perspective 

Once you have decided to update the legacy system and make changes to the organizational structure, it’s critical to understand what contemporary design should be applied. You can choose from a variety of available modern technologies. Additionally, it’s crucial to realize that your IT infrastructure may not require a complete makeover depending on the type of organization you run. Whatever the situation, you might need a new tool to finish the work. As a preliminary step, determine if the issue can be resolved without changing existing systems. If a change is necessary, go with the modernized option first. Examine the various options based on which one makes implementation the simplest.

The risk and impact on the system and business processes are influenced by how simple it is to adopt each of these seven options.

  • Encapsulating:  Encapsulating software means using and enhancing the application’s functionality by enclosing its data and functionalities and making them available via an API service. By encapsulating a system using third-party APIs, access to the system is restricted to conform to the information and workflow of modern systems interacting with it. Encapsulation offers the benefits of treating the short-term distress of poor UX and making a legacy system appear contemporary.

  • Rehosting: It is thought to be among the fastest solutions as no changes are made to the application code throughout the rehosting process, and no features or functionalities are affected. The entire application is transferred to a cloud-based platform. You can redeploy the application component to alternative infrastructures, such as cloud, virtual, or physical infrastructure, without changing its code, features, or functions.

  • Refactoring: This method of legacy modernization involves reorganizing and improving current code without altering its exterior behavior. You can remodel and change the existing code with refactoring to eliminate technical debt and improve nonfunctional aspects. This approach takes several actions to resolve technological problems, enhance component features and structures, and maximize cloud cost-effectiveness.

  • Replatforming: This legacy application refers to migrating a program or one of its components to a new platform. The code needs only minor adjustments to make it compatible with the new platform. Replatforming involves switching to a new runtime platform while making only minor modifications to the code’s syntax, semantics, or features.

  • Rearchitecting: It alludes to switching the program’s architecture by entirely modifying the code. By changing the code, you may fully take advantage of the platform’s improved and new capabilities. Rearchitecting is the idea of moving an application to new software so that you can later investigate new and improved platform capabilities. This allows you to significantly change the code to adapt it to a new application architecture and use new and enhanced capabilities.

  • Rebuilding: This modernization strategy involves starting from scratch to rebuild or rewrite an application or one of its components while maintaining the program’s scope and specification. This allows you to rethink or rewrite the application component while maintaining its scope and requirements.

  • Replacing: This entails replacing the old program with a newer one that considers new specifications, requirements, and client demands. This is viewed as a last choice because it involves creating an application from scratch. This makes it easier to completely replace the outdated application component while also considering new demands and requirements.

Step 3: Select the Best Modernization Approach

Finally, by mapping the seven modernization options in terms of their impact on technology, architecture, functionality, cost, and risk, choose the modernization strategy that will have the most significant impact and value for your organization.

Ultimately, choosing between rearchitecting, rebuilding, or replacing legacy programs is necessary. Rearchitecting is less expensive and less risky than rebuilding or replacing, which yields the best benefits but is more expensive and risky. The goal is to analyze your options to determine how much influence they will have while exerting the least amount of work.

Is Now the Ideal Time to Modernize Legacy Systems?

Many businesses opt to upgrade legacy systems instead of replacing them with new software. However, modernizing old applications offers the best of both worlds, benefiting the client and the company. Maintaining outdated apps substantially limits the company’s capacity to grow and function profitably. By keeping it updated, you can keep up with the most recent technological advancements and give the business new development possibilities, resulting in cost savings, process improvement, and revenue growth.

The ever-changing digital environment determines the rules of the game. Therefore, governments must act swiftly and often upgrade their IT systems to stay ahead of the competition and on the leading edge of technology. However, successful modernization adoption requires the support of a knowledgeable IT service provider. They can breathe new life into your project. The current situation has taught us that advanced digital platforms and systems are no longer a luxury but rather a requirement for delivering services and information to the general public by governmental organizations. Whether applied singly or in combination, these techniques can help government agencies transition from outdated legacy systems to cutting-edge digital platforms to efficiently support the people who depend on their services.

By collaborating with a seasoned software development company, the government might decide to modernize outdated software systems in various sectors. The experts can help them at every level of the app/software modernization cycle, from creating an efficient modernization plan to delivering consistent modernization implementation.