Visualizing the Process of Modernizing Legacy Systems

BrandPost By John Harrison
Apr 26, 2021
IT Leadership

Visual tools help simplify the planning process for updating outdated applications and systems.

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Credit: iStock

While many things get better with age – like cheese and wine – software often does not. Systems sometimes become too obsolete to function within existing workflows (like Adobe Flash Player), and finding the talent and expertise to maintain older systems is becoming more and more difficult. These are all reasons why businesses go through the painstaking process of updating and modernizing legacy systems.

How can CIOs simplify the process of modernizing these legacy systems? With visuals.

Keep a visual record of your decision making

Just as crucial as the highly-detailed, technical diagrams is the less formal documentation that helps your team identify specific approaches for modernizing legacy systems. Once an approach has been selected, the historical knowledge of why that decision was made can be lost over time as people move between projects or leave the company. A visual record helps stakeholders stay informed and aligned.

Previously, identifying the best approach for updating outdated systems was often done in a conference room with a whiteboard. Consider this scenario: you made a major architectural decision based off of a piece of information that was written on a whiteboard. After you left the room, that information was erased. If no one took notes and shared those with the group, the reasoning behind why your team chose a certain path is lost.

Losing that understanding might leave your team second guessing the selected approach and going back to the drawing board. Solutions like virtual whiteboards and infrastructure mapping provides a visual record without the risk of erasing or loss of historical knowledge. Using these solutions, teams can reference the details and reasoning behind every decision and review updates in real time or asynchronously.

Charting a path to clarity

Once an approach has been selected, visuals continue to play an important role during the entire modernization process. One of the biggest challenges when migrating from an old system to a new system is the state of constant flux – attempting to architect against future technology while at the same time updating and moving away from the past. It sometimes feels like changing a tire while driving down the freeway or, as we say at Lucid, building the plane and flying it simultaneously.

As businesses move from simple to more complex and ever-changing environments, it’s important to have a map highlighting all of the technical details of the changes that have been implemented, including progress that is going to be made down the road. Visuals are critical to clearly communicating with all stakeholders on the constantly-changing ecosystem of our own architecture environment. 

For example, security is at the forefront of every CIO’s mind, because vulnerabilities occur when teams lack visibility and don’t recognize the impact of a single action on the big picture. A visual infrastructure map can quickly provide IT leaders with immediate clarity and insight into what is changing or suspicious and how to best address that concern.

In addition to providing insight on the current state, visuals also make it possible for CIOs to see how the organization’s infrastructure environments relate to and interact with each other.

Next, it’s important for your teams to stay aligned on the action plan, ensuring a seamless transition to the updated systems. Visual collaboration solutions can integrate infrastructure or network diagrams with agile project management solutions, like Jira, to create a single source of truth for teams to reference as they move forward in the modernization process.

Asynchronous collaboration

Modernizing legacy systems is a multi-team endeavor that requires all stakeholders to recognize and agree to the needed changes while also understanding the moving pieces. But different teams will need to work on different elements of these projects at different times. And if you have a global organization, your teams will need to work across different time zones and in different languages.

By leveraging visual collaboration, cloud architecture diagrams, along with process flows, UML and network diagrams, and other data-rich visuals, can all be stored in one central repository, making the content searchable and easy for teams to find the necessary information.

Why does that matter to your process of modernizing legacy systems? If someone doesn’t understand how an architecture or system was structured before changes were made, version histories make it possible to go back and track every change made to that diagram. Importantly, you can revert back to previous versions if the changes proposed do not align with new systems.

Driving action

Taking action and driving instrumental change through careful modernization of your legacy systems can reduce costs, increase business value, and improve customer experiences. This process of modernization is a journey, and no matter how good the maps are, detours are going to happen. But with visual records and accurate diagrams, your teams are equipped with the necessary understanding to take action, adapt quickly and keep your plans for delivery on track.

Learn how Lucidchart Cloud Insights can help your teams visualize the cloud migration process.