5 steps to start your enterprise app modernization

By | 3 minute read | December 9, 2020

Get started with tips for planning, prioritizing and staying on track

Prepare to modernize! Every well-executed plan begins with a bit of preparation. Your enterprise application modernization project should be no different. As a first question, we like to ask, “Is our project aligned with the priorities of the business?” Sure, it’s simple—but it’s an important first thought.

Understanding and articulating the business value of modernization clearly will go a long way in helping to align your project scope and deliverable goals with that of your leadership. You can only go so far alone. So, to help keep you on track, we’ve put together a rundown of some of the top tips we have for keeping your modernization project moving forward. (For even more detail, check out our ebook on IBM servers.)

Step 1: Assess your applications

Are they traditional, composite or cloud-native applications? Categorize them. This will help you see the full scope of your application landscape so you can start making decisions about where to focus your efforts. Identify applications that can be readily deployed in the cloud and take note of those that will require refactoring. This is an ongoing process. And, as you continually reassess your journey and address the most impactful projects, there will be new prioritizations that must take place. 

Step 2: Be realistic with your scope

As you prepare to build your business case, narrow the scope. For example, it’s not advisable to create one massive business case to modernize hundreds of apps in one fell swoop and to create a project timeline that spans several years. Rather, focus your initial effort on a specific application . . . or even a specific component of a more complex application. By narrowing your project scope, you can make an immediate impact and lay the groundwork for modernizing other applications.

Step 3: Build your business case

Build your case around an app that will provide the biggest ROI. This will help you secure executive approval for the modernization project. For example, an online retailer may need to get a mobile user interface into the hands of users as soon as possible, while a financial institution might need to release new versions of a web interface weekly instead of monthly, without sacrificing software quality. Ensure that your own business case includes the desired outcomes and benefits from both a business perspective (that is, long-term financial savings) and a technical perspective, the estimated cost to perform the project, and the timeframe in which the project should be completed.

Step 4: Execute

You’ve identified a business need, you’ve narrowed your scope, you’ve convinced leadership and now it’s time to begin your project. Well done! If along the way you realize that your initial assumptions about either the business value or project timeline were incorrect, revisit the business case and adjust the scope accordingly. An advantage of narrowing your modernization project scope to one app or business need is that you can be flexible in your execution.

Step 5: Evaluate and repeat

As you complete each project, you will learn a lot about the technologies, what worked well, and what didn’t. Perform a post-mortem to note what went well and what went sideways. You’ll have more DevOps experience and can use that knowledge to inform your next modernization project.

What four actions can you take right now to modernize your apps? In our next post we will provide you with the technical know-how you need to initiate the process of modernizing your core applications. We’ll help you define a roadmap so you can tackle this project one piece at a time rather than attempting to transform your entire enterprise infrastructure all at once.

But you don’t have to wait for our next post. Our field guides to app modernization on IBM Z® and IBM LinuxONE and on IBM Power Systems are available now to download. Check it out!

> Get the field guide to app modernization on IBM Power Systems
> Get the field guide to app modernization on IBM Z and LinuxONE