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6 Steps IT Teams Should Follow for Continuous Modernization

Rocket Software’s Puneet Kohli describes how to achieve successful, data-driven continuous modernization

According to data from McKinsey, as much as 71% of the impact of business transformations depends on technology—meaning modernization is top of mind for any business looking to maintain a competitive advantage. However, the path to modernization is not a one-time event but a continuous journey, and with the right tools, organizations can take it at their own pace while still remaining viable in their space. Whether operating on mainframes, midrange servers, the cloud or somewhere in between, aligning IT with business needs to meet fundamental goals such as improving customer experience and increasing market share is more important than ever.

As businesses embark on the journey of modern application development and cloud adoption, they unlock many opportunities for growth and innovation. Understanding the advantages of cloud and application modernization lays the groundwork for this transformative process. When facing unexpected modernization challenges, it is ideal to execute an end-to-end, continuous modernization plan that strategically drives automation and ongoing business results.

For the best results, an organization’s data-driven continuous modernization plan should include these six crucial steps:

1. Process Discovery

Before embarking on any modernization efforts, it's crucial to have a comprehensive understanding of the existing applications and technologies in use within a company. This understanding should be based on data and in-depth insights to identify strengths, weaknesses, redundancies and areas for improvement. Process discovery is a great and vital first step as it helps assess workflows, estimate project timelines and mitigate cost overruns, as it involves analyzing and mapping out the workflows, procedures and systems currently in place. This step is essential because it allows organizations to understand how work is currently being done, identify bottlenecks or inefficiencies, and estimate the time and resources required for modernization. By understanding these workflows upfront, potential pitfalls and areas for improvement can be anticipated and addressed early in the process.

Collaborating across the business to inform a thorough process discovery ensures comprehensive insights into application utilization, providing a solid foundation for modernization efforts. A more holistic view of the applications' utilization and its impact on different business areas can be obtained by involving various teams and perspectives. This collaboration ensures that all relevant insights are considered, forming a solid foundation for planning and executing modernization efforts.

2. Project Prioritization

A comprehensive understanding of workflows and processes allows organizations to pinpoint specific areas ripe for improvement through automation and modernization. This clarity enables them to focus on the most crucial aspects that can bring tangible benefits and add value to the business.

Prioritization is key when it comes to implementing changes. Organizations can align their efforts with overall business goals by identifying and prioritizing which projects or areas to tackle first. This strategic approach helps secure support from key stakeholders by demonstrating a clear correlation between the proposed work and its potential positive impact on the business. It helps ensure that efforts are directed towards initiatives that bring the most significant value or solve the most pressing issues.

3. Automation Execution

Automation offers an effective method for organizations to achieve rapid return on investment (ROI) within their modernization effort. Automation involves using software and machine learning to automate repetitive and rule-based tasks, streamline processes and reduce manual intervention.

Automation’s primary function is automating routine and repetitive workflow tasks, such as data entry or file transfers. Doing so significantly improves productivity by completing these tasks faster and with fewer errors than humans. It also increases user satisfaction, as employees can focus on more stimulating and high-value tasks that require human expertise. Moreover, by freeing up resources from mundane tasks, organizations can allocate these resources to more critical and strategic initiatives, thereby enhancing overall efficiency.

4. Modern User Experience

In pursuit of modern application development, organizations identify workflows burdened by legacy green screens. These screens contribute to a subpar user experience (UX) by slowing down interactions and making the interface less user-friendly. To address these issues, organizations focus on creating user interfaces (UI) that are specifically designed to align with user workflows. These new interfaces prioritize practicality, incorporating moving fields and intuitive flows that make interactions smoother and more user-friendly. This approach to modernization aims to significantly enhance UX by streamlining processes and improving usability.

5. Process Integration

Organizations should build APIs to integrate into applications with critical business applications (ERP systems). This will help foster seamless data exchange and collaboration as APIs bridge legacy applications and diverse cloud-based services—breaking down silos and untethering business operations from IT infrastructure constraints. Efficient API implementation optimizes response times, bypassing terminal screens or accessing data directly from storage systems.

APIs serve as connectors that bridge the gap between older legacy applications and various cloud-based services. Doing so eliminates the siloed nature of data and functionalities, allowing for a more integrated and connected system. This integration also frees business operations from the constraints imposed by traditional IT infrastructure, enabling flexibility and scalability. Efficient implementation of APIs improves response times for accessing and utilizing data. This is achieved by bypassing terminal screens or directly accessing data from storage systems, avoiding unnecessary steps and delays in data retrieval or processing.

6. Automation Management

Centralized management of robots and APIs through a DevOps tool extends modernization and automation enhancements to developer environments, ensuring a cohesive and efficient approach to modernizing and automating various processes.

The automation facilitated by this centralized management system serves multiple purposes. First, it streamlines various processes within developer environments, reducing manual intervention and increasing efficiency. Second, it enforces predefined policies or standards, ensuring consistency and compliance across different automation initiatives. Last, developer productivity is enhanced by reducing repetitive tasks and providing a more efficient environment. This, in turn, creates an environment conducive to continuous improvement and innovation.

The success of a modernization plan depends on how it connects the power of modern application development and the cloud with cohesive integration, improved security and enhanced efficiency. Organizations can confidently prioritize modernization efforts and effectively transform monoliths into microservices by thoroughly understanding these applications and workflows through process discovery.

As ERP software is affected whenever new processes, technologies or trends arise, industry volatility warrants reviewing and updating application workflows to remain up to date. To remain competitive, businesses must embrace rapid modernization and automation. Historically, leaders grappled with choosing which workflows and processes to automate first and selecting appropriate tools to enact these changes. Still, a continuous modernization solution offers the means to construct data-centric strategies that yield enduring business outcomes at the right pace.

 
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