Time to resolve the legacy issue
At this time of year most Financial Services businesses will be in the middle of agreeing their plans and budgets for 2022. For those who have legacy applications this will trigger the annual discussion about whether they should be replaced, or “patched up” for another year or 2.
This year this discussion is likely to be influenced by experience of delivering customer service during the Pandemic. The challenges presented are likely to have further highlighted the limitations that legacy applications can impose, in particular the difficulty that they present in effective digitalisation and self-service. Despite these additional pressures the temptation remains to defer the problem for a little longer and do nothing will still be very great.
As someone who has been involved in a number of legacy replacement programmes, I have a lot of sympathy for the inclination to kick the can down the road for a few more years. My experience has been of a few successes, a few bad failures, with the vast majority being somewhere in the middle. The bad experiences are painful memories and many lessons have been learnt!
Finding case studies about disasters in legacy replacement is all too easy and would take only a few moments of searching. The reality is that as experience has grown, the actual costs have escalated to eye watering numbers, compared to those in the original business case, and this is coupled with increased risks and timescales. It also can’t be ignored that Executive sponsorship of legacy replacement programmes can be challenging to career aspirations.
At the heart of all these problems is the fact that most organisations do not fully understand their legacy applications. Over time the number of people with detailed knowledge of how the system works reduces, the code becomes increasingly impenetrable, and the repeated “patching up” exercises create an ever-growing spaghetti of Inter-connecting and bolt-on systems. This creates the very real risk that problems, mistakes, and inaccurate specifications are only recognised late in the day which creates timetable and financial over-runs, or in the worst cases cause programmes to be stopped after incurring significant sunk costs.
It’s also the case that the methodology defining how to run programmes of this nature has changed little over the last 20 years. True – a lot of emphasis is placed on identifying risks early in the process so they can be dealt with. However, the problems with legacy applications are the dreaded “unknown unknowns”, which come to bite you at the wrong time.
At APS we have been looking a bring a new approach to solving the problem of legacy systems and achieve materially better outcomes, which will last for the long-term. Our research has led us to team up with LogicLayer, to bring together their knowledge and tooling, with our extensive large programme expertise. Together we will provide a new methodology which will provide a radically different way of approaching legacy remediation.
By drilling into and analysing the legacy code we can both extract and clarify the underlying business logic in the processes. We can declutter the codebase. We can fill the gaps in understanding of the system and how it interacts with others in the complex ecosystem of applications – including operational processes.
Most importantly we can provide the knowledge required for Executives to make much better-informed decisions about the most effective long-term solution to their legacy issues.
This approach not only brings options – such as creating a new, tangible organisational asset from this captured logic or code conversion – but also provides an accelerator to delivering on these options. And if replacement is still the preferred route forward, this output asset can be used to create high quality and accurate specifications for the target system. This radically reduces the risk of late unrecognised risks derailing the timetable.
This process of analysing the underlying code and extracting the process logic has been proven in complex legacy replacement programmes in the USA with very positive outcomes.
This new approach can tip the strategic debate around legacy in favour of tackling it properly and sustainably, to provide a platform to drive the business forward and deliver better customer outcomes.
Please contact us for more information on how we can help your organisation.