Top 5 Reasons that Puzzle Leaders to Decide for a Re-write of a Legacy System
June 10, 2022
To help with this conundrum leadership teams must finalize a plan that satisfies the long-term objectives of the organization. To kickstart the plan organizations must help customers perceive the long-term value of the re-write by equipping employees with the knowledge required to pitch it to them in the best possible light. Once this is done, organizational leaders must devise a series of mental models to ensure sanity throughout the migration process for all parties involved. Finally, leaders must design rock-solid customer support strategies to handle post-production issues that might arise and to ensure customer feedback is timely addressed.
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In recent posts, we discussed the symptoms of legacy-doomed systems and how many enterprise systems eventually find themselves in the dreaded legacy state. You can find the previous articles of this series here.
In this article, we discuss the challenging situations that leaders face when they have identified a system as legacy and are now contemplating a re-write. The following are the top questions that leaders in our customer organizations have asked themselves and brainstormed with teams to arrive at a proper conclusion. These questions are important to discuss and debate meticulously before finalizing a plan that satisfies the long-term objectives of the organization.
What’s in it for Customers?
Coming back to the foundation of why each company exists, we must take our customers’ perspectives and understand what’s in it for them. How do we position a system re-write for customers? As a re-write will have its impact on product release timelines, how do we manage customer concerns about not having any new features during the course of the re-write? Will our customers wait patiently or will they move to competitive platforms? What are ways we can enable our customers to perceive the long-term value of a re-write and convince them to partner with us during this transition?
How do we Sell a Re-write?
Next, we need to prepare our internal teams responsible for selling to new customers or even maintaining relationships with existing customers. Naturally, these teams always want more features at a better price to close deals, and we must equip them to pitch the re-write in the best possible light.
During a re-write, it might not always be possible to build new features on the legacy system and rewrite the system at the same time too. Though technically it’s possible it brings significant costs and an operational burden. It makes the migration of customers from legacy to the new system really tough. Therefore, leaders need to craft a bilateral strategy to keep the current sales targets in mind and design a strategy for re-write and have everyone on board with it.
How do we Mitigate the Fear of the Unknown
In most cases, enterprise systems have been there for a while and would have experienced leadership changes. During this time, the core features, differentiators, and innovative aspects of the system would have evolved and the usage would have been tailored to different categories of customers and their respective preferences.
Integrations would have been catered to various diversities few large customers would have had some custom changes. All of this would bring in a fear of the unknown, which can often be observed by a resistance to change from some team members. Leaders are expected to lead through these uncertainties by crafting strategies and plans to handle the program management and people management aspects of the re-write transition.
How do we Migrate Customers from Legacy to the New System?
This is an important question that every team needs to think deeply about and collaborate on. From Sales to Product Management, Customer Support to Engineering, literally every team needs to contribute. The single purpose is to figure out how we can move our customers with ease and how to win their confidence throughout the migration.
Due to inherent complexities, data and customer migrations demand leadership excellence. To illustrate the challenges, one of our customers explains migration as “Moving the mountain while doing a wild goose chase.” Therefore, leaders need to devise a series of mental models for key team members and also operational models for teams to ensure sanity throughout the migration process.
How do we Handle Post Production Issues for the Re-write?
This is an obvious but important question because just like any software deployment, the re-write will also have post-production issues. To make matters worse, there may be defects that arise from the re-write that were not present in the legacy system. Therefore, leaders must design rock-solid customer support strategies and ensure that customer feedback is being heard and addressed. To help alleviate their concerns, we must persuade customers that those issues will be fixed and managed more easily due to the re-write. Although post-production issues will arise, turning these into confidence-building opportunities can contribute to overall customer coherence with the vision of the platform and the company.
This article sums up our learnings of enterprise legacy systems before a re-write begins. The next few articles will target the plans and recommendations on how to go ahead with the re-write and how to ensure the new system paves the way for legacy-free engineering in the organization.