Master Guide of Legacy System Modernization and Redesign


Streamline Your Workflow with Modernization of Legacy Application_ Master Guide of Legacy System Modernization and Redesign

Imagine: You are at a war with an army fully wielded with advanced guns and machinery while you have spears and stones. Absurd on your side, isn’t it? It’s a complete waste of potential just because you are stuck with outdated weapons.

A legacy software is no different than your outdated weaponry. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for many organizations today. They are stuck with old systems that hinder their progress. According to a recent study by Gartner, over 80% of IT budgets are allocated to maintaining these aging systems, leaving little room for strategic initiatives that drive business transformation.

Legacy application refers to “an information system that might be based on old/outdated technologies, but is critical to day-to-day operations.” Sticking with legacy software systems can limit scalability and obstruct innovation and growth. You need modernization effort to bring out the best.

For example, an international company with an overseas network is using legacy system that was implemented decades earlier. It might have been the most efficient at its time but now it offers nothing more than burdens. As the company expands, the legacy system will face severe issues like slow response, frequent failures, and non-compatible with new technology.

Shockingly 70% of enterprise software applications are under category, according to Gartner, stopping them from keeping pace in upgrading technological advancements.

But the challenge starts here! What’s the best way to modernize your legacy systems? A perfect modernization approach exist? Many companies struggle with the legacy system and the challenges to upgrade it. However, in the midst of these challenges, they can achieve something more remarkable. Through legacy transformation, companies can open a door of treasure. Dozens of benefits extend beyond just technological advancements as you modernize your legacy.

Redesigning the current legacy system is essential to improve user experience and stay in the competition. A successful legacy can lead to enhanced efficiency, faster outputs, data security, and better branding. Implementing modern technologies like Artificial intelligence, Cloud computing, etc can boost the overall workflow many folds.

In this article, we will discuss the master guide you need to Redesign the Legacy System.


What is a legacy system? Understanding legacy system modernization approach and software development

Legacy refers to software, products, or applications that run either on little support or no support at all. These are the software developed years ago using outdated technology. Regardless of their outdated nature, Legacy systems often remain in use because of the difficulties in implementing a new system.

You might assume that legacy system means any system that was created a long time ago. However, the age of any system has very little to do with its incompatibility with work. Any system that lacks the ability to fulfill the needs of any organization is considered a legacy.

Legacy systems need not necessarily be old, but, they generally have a more difficult time adapting and lack essential tools. Due to their lack of advancement, they lack flexibility, modern features, and user-friendliness.

Businesses can face many challenges if they do not upgrade the outdated system.

Equifax, a credit reporting agency, relied on a decades-old COBOL (Common Business-Oriented Language) system to store sensitive consumer data. Result? Hackers found the vulnerability in the system and accessed the personal information of over 148 million Americans, credit card details, and security numbers. Equifax faced great financial losses due to this incident. [Source: Equifax Data Breach (2017)]

Limitations of the legacy system can be seen in these ways:

Limitations of the legacy system can be seen in these ways 1


1) Incompatibility: The legacy system might fail to cooperate with the new technology which might strike the information flow.

2) Maintenance challenges: Maintaining and updating these systems can be quite expensive, especially finding skilled professionals to do the same.

3) Security vulnerabilities: Backward technology can often leave the system unsafe and more prone to cyberattacks and data leaks.

4) Poor user experience: The legacy system may lack a user-friendly interface, great features, and modern tools.


Organizations keep legacy systems in use for many reasons:

1) Cost: Upgrading or Replacing a legacy system can be quite costly and a complex procedure.

2) Risk: What if the new system doesn’t function as expected? There’s always a risk that makes companies think more.

3) Data dependency: A legacy system might carry essential data that can be difficult to transfer to a new system.


Characteristics of Legacy Software. Discovering signs of legacy software modernization requirement

Legacy systems, come with a unique set of characteristics. While being familiar and functional, they can obstruct businesses in the modern world. Here’s a breakdown of some key features:

1) Outdated Technology: Legacy systems are built on technologies that are no longer used or aren’t industry standards anymore. You can consider them like telephones. Innovative and reliable at their time but doesn’t have features like smartphones and are no longer required now.

2) Inflexibility: Legacy systems lack integration with modern systems. They are often rigid and are barely able to adapt to changing business requirements.

Adding new features to them or trying to fit them with modern technology can be a quite complex and expensive task. How easy do you think adding the latest Android features in the oldest Android version is? Is it even compatible? Such problems arise with legacy systems.

3) Lack of Productive Choices: When deciding on software, corporate management can choose between two things – either to pick something off the shelf or build a software on custom requirements.

Choosing something already developed decades ago might not have the ability to meet the current needs of the company whereas building custom software is time-consuming and requires a lot of money and work.

4) Gaps in Information: In many cases, a team of people decides what kind of apps to use on behalf of a large number of teams. What management thinks the users need may be completely different from what they actually need. This creates a gap in information.

5) Limited or No Vendor Support: Many legacy systems do not have vendors to offer updates or maintenance. Thus they become vulnerable to cyberattacks, making it difficult to deal with issues.

6) Poor Documentation and Maintainability: Legacy systems are often lacking proper documentation. The IT department might struggle to understand and maintain them. Moreover, if the codes are secret, fixing them will become an even bigger issue.

7) Security Risks: As the system is already outdated, has no vendor support, and lacks higher security measures it becomes easier for hackers to access the system. They are like old corroded locks which are nothing in front of new advanced home security. Similarly, Legacy systems are unable to protect their home which is their company.

8) Inconvenient UI: Legacy softwares are ‘product-centric’ and not ‘user-centric’. Such software requires users to have special training to carry out a task. No consumer app can become successful without a proper user interface. If it’s difficult to understand, the user will hesitate to return to use it. This consideration is lacking in the case of legacy apps.

These characteristics are signs you need to modernize a legacy system. Understanding these characteristics can help you identify legacy systems within your company. Then you can start to modernize them to stay in competition.


Why modernize your legacy systems. Choose the right legacy modernization strategies

Retaining legacy systems can turn into a burden over time. Implementing legacy system modernization strategies is essential to stay in the competition.

Nationwide Building Society, a UK-based financial institution, modernized its legacy mortgage processing system. This led to a 70% reduction in processing time and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction [Source: Integrio Systems – Re-architecting Legacy Applications: Main Risks & Benefits]

Here are the main reasons to Redesign Legacy Applications:

Main reasons to Redesign Legacy Applications


Modernization means switching from outdated legacy applications to a modern software. You can choose between two ways – Create an entirely new system or upgrade the existing one. Here are the benefits of upgrading the existing system:

1) Enhanced Efficiency: The competition is already reaching the sky in current times. Any organization that wants to survive must utilize all its resources and time in the best way. Time is the most valuable asset. You might take longer only to see the competitor already implementing what you planned.

Integration of legacy systems with modern systems automates tasks, streamlines workflows, and optimizes processes boosting the overall workflow.

2) Better User Experience: A better and user-friendly interface improves system adoption, user satisfaction, and ultimately better productivity and engagement. With the advancements, User experience design has enhanced app performances drastically in the last few years.

Modern UI is interactive and engaging improving the overall efficiency. This is the biggest benefit of integrated legacy system with the modern system as better performance directly correlates to higher revenue.

3) Increased Security: Upgraded system consists of powerful security functions, making it withstand cyberattacks, and data leaks and safeguard the overall system.

4) Better Scalability: Modern-day systems are built for integration across various platforms and scalability. They have higher adaptability and can be evolved as per changing business requirements. Scaling the operations becomes quite easy and seamless. This kind of accessibility is lacking in legacy applications. Hence upgrading it is essential.

5) Reduced Maintenance and Support Cost: It’s a costly move to maintain the system is a costly move. Their functionality involves a high volume of code which may disturb other systems leading to issues. A lot of time is invested in planning the updates and strategy of implementation.

Moreover, rebooting these systems into new cloud-based systems is already a huge task that can make the working staff smash their heads on the walls.

6) Staying Ahead of the Competition: Legacy systems are more difficult to adapt and can obstruct your growth against the competition. Maintenance of the system will lead to loss of opportunities and eventually staying behind. Using modern systems can solve such problems.


Redesigning Legacy Systems: A Multifaceted Approach. Legacy system modernization approaches

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to redesigning legacy systems. Each company has different needs and situations. The strategy varies in evaluations and the system’s condition. You need a lot of research to choose the right plan.

A 2020 report estimates that digital transformation initiatives driven by legacy system modernization can unlock up to $2.2 trillion in productivity gains for businesses globally. (Source: “Unlocking Productivity Through Digital Transformation,” McKinsey Global Institute, January 2020)

Here are some most useful strategies:

Each situation requires an evaluation of the system’s condition, budget constraints, and desired outcomes. Here are some common strategies:

1) Assess the impact on users: Before migrating your legacy application, you should figure out the reasons to migrate. It can be understood in 3 ways: business goals, technical assistance, and impact on users.

Companies often overlook the term of the impact on users. Ignoring this area can make businesses lose opportunities in their services as they do not have a clear idea of how they are interacting with the users.

By evaluating the impact on users, they can enable an effortless switch to the new system.

2) Understanding the System: Before jumping onto the journey to redesign the legacy system, you need to have an overall understanding of the existing system. It consists:

  • Functionality:Figuring out the essential functionalities and processes that the system requires.
  • Data Structure:Understand how data is stored, and accessed and if the data has any issues. Study the whole data model.
  • User Base:Identify different user groups and their needs and issues regarding the system.

Various methods like research, system analysis, and user interviews are important for gathering an overall analysis of information.

3) Plan your strategic roadmap

Once you have a strategic plan, your further procedure will be seamless. There are three main areas that you need to consider to modernize legacy systems:

  • Product Expansion

This consists of the new features you add to your platform that were not previously present in your legacy system. You can turn this upgrade into an opportunity to highlight the specialties and offerings of your business to attract a larger amount of audience. For example, you can introduce a new chatbot or AI tool in your new system which can save time and effort for the users.

  • Investment in platform

You can add new and better features in your software development process to boost it in an overall way. Investing in the platform is essential as the better you offer than your competitors, the better brand you become. For instance, you implement better UI design or offer more customer support

  • Enhancements

Analyze the overall upgraded system. These improvements are to be done on the legacy application or new system. You will have to figure out what’s beneficial and what’s not, where you have to invest more and where not, and predict your future decisions.

4) Refactoring: This includes improving the existing codebase without changing its function. It focuses on code quality, maintainability, and readability, making the system easier to understand and modify.

5) Re-platforming: This involves shifting the legacy system’s core functionalities to a new technology platform. This can benefit in two ways. A new technology can be implemented and it will still be relevant in terms of functioning.

6) Rearchitecting: This includes a complete redesign of the legacy system. Aiming to upgrade it to meet the modern needs and utilize the modern technology. It offers a flexible and better workflow.

These are some of the best practices for redesigning a legacy system. When migrating a system, ensure to plan ahead and be aware of all upcoming possibilities. It’s not just a shift of moving features from one system to the other. Rather it is a strategy to bring out the best of your potential, meet your business goals, and motivate more people to adopt your services.


Challenges of Legacy Application Modernization. Figuring out modernization challenges

Challenges of Legacy Application Modernization. Figuring out modernization challenges


Everest Group: A 2021 report by Everest Group titled “Application Modernization in 2021: Moving Beyond Legacy Hurdles” states that 70% of IT leaders consider legacy systems a significant barrier to their digital transformation goals.

Here are some of the most common challenges in redesigning a legacy system:

1) Planned Pivots: Planning is essential in legacy system integration with modern systems. It requires a lot of research and analysis. It’s a complex procedure.

When reframing the software, beta-testing has to be done to figure out what is needed and what needs to be removed. Extensive research is required to figure out how users operate the system.

2) Complexity: Legacy systems are interconnected with different parts of the system. Figuring out the ways to untangle these dependencies without disrupting other areas is difficult. This is one of the reasons why many do not attain the benefits of legacy system redesign.

3) Cost and Budget: Redesigning an entire system can be a huge investment. Costs associated with new infrastructure, development, and retraining the staff are significant.

4) Time Constraints: Core operations are often carried out by legacy applications. Hence taking the system down can be an issue. It’s crucial to balance between reducing the downtime along with a high-quality redesign.

5) Security Risks: Implementing a new system with the existing infrastructure can lead to new security troubles. Dealing with these risks should be a top priority.

6) Data Migration: Shifting a huge chunk of data from one place to the new one can be quite tough and challenging. A well-planned strategy should be implemented.

Despite these challenges, redesigning a legacy enterprise app can be a transformative process.


Case studies on benefits of legacy system redesign

Nationwide Building Society, a UK-based financial institution, redesigned and modernized its legacy mortgage processing system. It resulted in a 70% reduction in processing time and a 20% increase in customer satisfaction [Source: Integrio Systems – Re-architecting Legacy Applications: Main Risks & Benefits]. Their endorsement of the regular requirements was also improved due to the new system.

John Hancock Insurance: John Hancock saw a 20% reduction in processing time and a 50% reduction in errors after modernizing their legacy policy administration system [Source: A study by McKinsey & Company – Look for “Legacy systems: Transforming IT challenges into business opportunities” on McKinsey & Company website]. This redesign enabled them to streamline their processes and improve customer service.


The future of legacy system. Legacy modernization future potential

The future of legacy system. Legacy modernization future potential


The future of legacy systems is all about adaptability. Here’s a breakdown of the two main paths they’ll take:

Legacy systems will evolve in this way:

1) Cloud Migration: Legacy systems will be transferred to cloud platforms. It will enable scalability, easier maintenance, and access to advanced features.

2) Modernization Techniques: Techniques like microservices architecture will make them more modular, easier to update, and secure.

3) API Integration: APIs will be wrapped around legacy systems to allow them to connect and share data with modern applications seamlessly.

4) UI/UX Revamp: User interfaces will be upgraded for a more user-friendly experience.

5) Coexistence with Modern Systems: Some legacy systems can also coexist with newer applications. New features can be added to the legacy system while keeping the core functionalities untouched, acting as a reliable foundation.

6) New Apps for Additional Features: Modern applications will be built in a way to associate with the legacy system providing additional features and functionalities.

7) Data Integration Tools: These tools will ensure a seamless exchange of data between the legacy system and modern applications.

Ultimately, legacy systems won’t completely disappear. They’ll be utilized or integrated into the modern technical landscape through strategies.

The future of legacy systems is to get the most out of them in the modern world. It will be about balancing out the different systems, figuring out what works, and what’s necessary, and implementing what allows smooth functioning with the new technology.


Considerations in modernization of legacy systems

Considerations in modernization of legacy systems


1) Ethical Considerations: Consider the ethical results like data privacy and user consent when dealing with sensitive data. 

2) Change Management: Redesign of any successful implementation requires a full-proof strategy. They have to look into user concerns and ensure seamless adoption of the new system.

3) Future-proofing: When implementing as per current needs, consider predicting and analyzing future trends and upcoming advancements.

What’s the use of a system that becomes a burden? Don’t let your legacy system be an obstacle to your business goals. Consider approaching experts and IT professionals to get the perfect plan for redesigning and modernization. Investing in your legacy system can open a door of limitless possibilities for future success.

By utilizing all these strategies and researching deeper into the case studies, you can create a great system that can ensure your company’s success.



Upgrading legacy systems to a modern-day business building system is a complex procedure but can have a significant impact on your overall business.

Advanced technology and user experience are absolutely necessary in order to make successful software. Modern-day users often look for something that’s engaging, easy to use, and offers more flexibility. Offering a better user experience than your competitors is essential for the success of your business.

Implementing all these strategies, understanding the legacy system, figuring out the best strategy, and analyzing case studies will bring out the best in your business.


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