Application maintenance and modernization - why is it so important?

Like a car, an application needs maintenance. If you postpone maintenance, the risk of problems increases and fixing it will become increasingly expensive. Your need for use also changes. Continuing to drive the old car is nostalgic but you miss the satisfaction of having air conditioning, an automatic transmission or navigation. It's no different with an application. Continuous maintenance and modernization keeps the application up-to-date, both technically and functionally.

do not forget application maintenance.

Organizations have invested heavily in a new application. Such an investment takes a big bite out of the available budget and available time. Therefore, the application is often used for longer than five or even 10 years.

But the world does not stand still. The business and users are getting new functional needs. Technical requirements for architecture and security change and become structurally more demanding. The application must keep up with these developments during its lifetime.

It happens more often that application maintenance is performed only when really necessary. This causes the technology to fall behind ("technical debt") and also reduces its suitability for business operations.

what is the consequence of technical debt?

As a result, the (hidden) costs and risks (security vulnerabilities) increase. The best approach is to continuously modernize and thus keep the application functionally, technically and cost-efficient. However, many organizations allocate no or too little budget for this.

Technical debt and risk growth impose costs and burdens on the organization. Imagine a data breach happening, the consequences (reputational damage, fines) can be enormous. As time passes, larger budgets are needed for larger initiatives with more risk and disruption to daily operations. These make approving and implementing a modernization even more difficult.

technical debt, a ticking time bomb.

The danger of postponing maintenance is that it doesn't hurt directly. Maintenance costs money and resources, and those costs are difficult to measure against benefits. There will be a time when security risks become too big, or worse, exploited. Or that support for software or hardware ceases. Instead of minor maintenance, only drastic, unplanned, costly measures will help.

Left unchecked, technical debt will ensure that the only work that gets done is unplanned work
Gene Kim, Kevin Behr & George Spafford, The Phoenix Project

Gartner has published many research reports with figures on the cost and impact of overdue maintenance.

there are three pillars of this problem:

  1. technology;
  2. architecture;
  3. functionality.

Technology and architecture determine cost, complexity and risk of a platform. Functionality and architecture determine applicability to the business. As more drastic measures are required to modernize these aspects, effort and impact increase as shown in the following figure. Which of the 7 scenarios fits best depends on the problems and causes.

The trigger to modernize an application is triggered by business and/or technology:

  • ‍Business - has increasing frequency of change, needs digital support or has changing functional needs.
  • ‍Technology - if there is overdue maintenance, obsolete technology, vulnerabilities, lack of knowledge or unsupported platforms.

how to avoid technical debt?

Perform continuous maintenance and modernize small, manageable pieces of your landscape. This reduces risk and disruption and improves time-to-value. In addition, the usefulness and necessity of each piece can be weighed financially. For example, focus on "low hanging fruit," such as improving security (avoid "data on the street" and reputation damage) and streamlining functionality for users (improved efficiency and effectiveness).

The strategy to modernize and maintain applications requires a step-by-step approach. We have described this approach below:

  • Evaluate your platform and application(s);
  • ~~Are they still appropriate for user needs?
  • ~~Is the technology still supported and/or are there any vulnerabilities?
  • Identify the causes of problems;
  • Provide a balance of value added versus cost, risk and effort;
  • Establish a roadmap with iterations and priorities.

performing application modernization.

These projects are often carried out together with Referit. We complement internal staff to modernize older applications together by:

  • Functional and technical assessment of the current situation with a proven approach and state-of-the-art tooling;
  • Greater understanding of possible technological innovations and available solutions in the market than the limited knowledge of internal staff;
  • Collaboratively prepare the roadmap and iterations for the modernization steps;
  • Supplement with manpower and knowledge in addition to current staff.

Referit has been supporting its customers in keeping their IT platforms and applications up-to-date for over 16 years. Do you also need to exchange views on maintenance and modernization? Then leave your details on the contact form or call +31 88 313 9913.

Want to schedule a free IT consultation right away? You can do so here.

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