XPLUS Community: How to send your legacy applications on a well-deserved retirement? Ep. 1

How to send your legacy applications on a well-deserved retirement?

In this series, several of our consultants will give their advises on one of the hottest market  topic of the moment. How to manage legacy applications decommissioning?

When you are working as an IT consultant within established businesses / industries (as in my case, banking), you will have probably encountered a lot of legacy landscapes.

As a consultant we help the banks to enrol large transformation programs to be ready to serve the customer in a new Digital way.

The implementation of these programs is most of the time well organised (everyone in IT likes to work on challenging projects which make use of cutting edge technologies). However, one task is often forgotten, to get rid of the obsolete applications.

Nevertheless it is important that the Banks Business strategy and its evolution towards Digital is reflected in its application portfolio. And here the problem starts, the application portfolio of banks is often the result of decades of history with solutions to punctual problems, technology brought in to solve an immediate challenge, incomplete consolidation after M&A or corporate restructuring, change of legislation.

Management attention is set on new functionality which makes decommissioning a “deferrable” expense.

In order to (partially) solve this issue, we should make the projects / programs which deliver new solutions also accountable for the obsolete applications. These teams should take specific actions (i.e. lifecycle management update, reengineering, decommissioning, …) in order to put the legacy applications that they are replacing in retirement.

In order to obtain a good obsolescence rate, it also seems important that this work is done by a different team than the team that maintains the legacy.

A fresh view on the existing business / IT problem is often welcome. Nevertheless, it has taken IT decades to reach its current state, so we can assume that we will not be able to remedy all of this in a portfolio overnight.

The decommissioning exercise is a serious transformation initiative on its own.

Frederic Crabbe