Most organizations spend more than they want on maintaining and supporting existing custom applications. CIOs are painfully aware that this spending prevents a pivot to investing in new applications that their organizations desperately need. These new applications include:

  1. End-user apps for iOS and Android.
  2. Digital transformation.
  3. 360 Customer view.
  4. Data analytics.
  5. IIoT/SCADA.
  6. AI/ML.
  7. Improved application integration.

In addition, our traditional handcrafted software development and maintenance practices can’t possibly accommodate the growing pressure for:

  1. Cheaper application maintenance and support.
  2. New applications with high-functionality.
  3. Improved functionality in existing applications.
  4. Lightning-fast response times.
  5. Ultra-high availability expectations.
  6. Low tolerance for software defects.

In this article, we will examine the realistic strategies that CIOs and CTOs should consider when leading their organization’s initiatives to respond to these application trends and requirements.

Decommission legacy systems

The applications that consume the most money for maintenance and support are legacy systems. Many organizations have developed a comfortable familiarity with these systems. They’re also intertwined with countless business processes. These facts make decommissioning difficult. In many organizations, legacy systems are a significant obstacle to improving business processes and digital transformation.

The gradual, but determined migration of functionality to more modern solutions, using the strategies described below will help organizations:

  1. Advance their business plans with more agility.
  2. Confront threats from competition.
  3. Shake off the obstacles and costs of legacy systems.
  4. Avoid risks when people with relevant technical skills retire.

Implement software packages

Today’s application software market offers a wide range of software packages for every conceivable industry. The benefits of replacing legacy systems or creating new applications based on software packages include:

  1. Providing more functionality to end-users.
  2. Outsourcing application maintenance to a vendor.
  3. Sharing application maintenance costs with all the licensees of the software package.
  4. Benefiting from the best practices embedded in the functionality of the software package.

Implementing software packages will help organizations decommission the existing legacy systems and move forward on digital transformation.

Implement Software as a Service (SaaS)

Today’s market for SaaS applications offers comprehensive solutions for every conceivable requirement. The benefits of replacing legacy systems with SaaS applications include all the benefits of software packages as listed above, plus a migration to the cloud that brings these additional benefits:

  1. Outsourcing the on-premises computing infrastructure.
  2. Outsourcing functions such as backup & recovery, cybersecurity operations.
  3. Shifting from a capital-first to a pay-as-you-go cost model.
  4. More easily respond to swings in application resource requirements.

Implementing SaaS applications will help organizations decommission the existing legacy systems and embark on the road to digital transformation in a cloud environment.

Develop applications with low-code platforms

Regardless of the availability of feature-rich SaaS-based applications, sometimes developing and implementing a custom application is the only way to address some situations. Often, it is also critical to minimize the elapsed time to market.

“Low-code application platforms have matured in recent years to the point where scalability and reliability of the tested applications are no longer issues,” says Tom Everett, Vice President Systems Architecture and CISO at Metrolinx in Toronto, Canada. “The remaining limitation is that programming languages can handle more complex business logic.”

The benefits of developing custom applications using a low-code application platform (LCAP) compared to more well-known programming languages include:

  1. Improved support for multiple end-user devices such as smartphones, tablets and desktops.
  2. Shorter elapsed time and lower software development costs due to higher developer productivity.
  3. Implementing changes and enhancements more easily because there’s less software to revise.
  4. Shorter learning curve for junior development staff.
  5. Reducing the future maintenance burden.
  6. Reducing the creation of unsupportable applications by shadow IT.

Implementing new applications with low-code tools will help organizations respond to the need for speed in achieving a competitive advantage or responding to a competitive threat.

Click here to scan a few Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms Reviews and Ratings.

Develop applications with well-known programming languages

Sometimes, custom applications with complex logic can only be successfully developed by an experienced team using a well-known programming language. These have been used for decades for good reasons, including:

  1. Unparalleled flexibility that can respond to complex functionality.
  2. Routine and consistent support for a large community of end-users that requires fast response times and high availability.
  3. Manage and process large volumes of data.
  4. Ability to demonstrate compliance with access and security requirements.
  5. Avoiding vendor lock-in on a specific low-code or no-code platform.

 

What ideas can you contribute to help organizations reduce application maintenance and migrate to more modern systems? Let us know in the comments below.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
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Yogi Schulz
Yogi Schulz has over 40 years of Information Technology experience in various industries. Yogi works extensively in the petroleum industry to select and implement financial, production revenue accounting, land & contracts, and geotechnical systems. He manages projects that arise from changes in business requirements, from the need to leverage technology opportunities and from mergers. His specialties include IT strategy, web strategy, and systems project management.