Unlike cheese and wine, software typically doesn’t get better with age. Systems eventually become too obsolete to function, and finding the talent and expertise to maintain older systems is becoming increasingly difficult. For these reasons, businesses have to go through the painstaking process of updating and modernizing legacy systems. As many CIOs and their teams already know, this can be an incredibly complex task with tons of moving parts to keep track of.
So, how can CIOs simplify and clarify the process of modernizing legacy systems? Through visualization.
Keep a visual record of your decision-making
Finding the best approach for updating outdated systems used to happen in a conference room, huddled around a whiteboard. Consider this scenario: You made a major architectural decision based on 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. This can be a headache for teams in the middle of modernizing a legacy system—there’s already enough to worry about without losing track of critical elements of the project. This is where digitalizing your visuals can save the day.
Solutions like virtual whiteboards and infrastructure mapping provide a visual record without the risk of erasing or losing historical knowledge. Using these solutions, teams can reference the details and reasoning behind every decision and review updates in real time or asynchronously.
Building this visual documentation in a visual collaboration platform is an effortless way to create an innovation repository. When you naturally use a platform and create intelligent, dynamic documentation, you’re building that visual record that will keep teams and stakeholders aligned throughout this project and many more to come.
Chart a path to clarity
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 updating and moving away from the past. It can feel 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 the technical details of the changes that have been implemented, including progress that will be made down the road.
Visuals are critical to clearly communicate with stakeholders on the constantly changing ecosystem of the architecture.
For example, security is at the forefront of every CIO’s mind. That focus is 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 into 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.
When it's time to implement changes, use visuals to stay aligned on the action plan and ensure 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.
Why is asynchronous collaboration crucial to the modernization process?
Modernizing legacy systems is a multi-team endeavor. All stakeholders have to recognize and agree on the needed changes while also understanding the moving pieces. One of the hardest things about modernization processes is that 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, teams can store cloud architecture diagrams, along with process flows, UML and network diagrams, and other data-rich visuals 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.
Drive action toward change
Driving instrumental change through the careful modernization of your legacy systems can reduce costs, increase business value, and improve customer experiences.
No matter how good your maps are, the process of modernization is a journey, which means detours are bound to happen. But with visual records and accurate diagrams, your teams are equipped with the necessary context to take action, adapt quickly, and keep delivery plans on track.
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About the author
John Harrison, vice president of engineering at Lucid, has more than 20 years of experience in software development and architecture. John oversees a broad range of engineering teams dedicated to expanding advanced product functionality to best help teams see and build the future.
Lucid Software is a pioneer and leader in visual collaboration dedicated to helping teams build the future. With its products—Lucidchart, Lucidspark, and Lucidscale—teams are supported from ideation to execution and are empowered to align around a shared vision, clarify complexity, and collaborate visually, no matter where they are. Lucid is proud to serve top businesses around the world, including customers such as Google, GE, and NBC Universal, and 99% of the Fortune 500. Lucid partners with industry leaders, including Google, Atlassian, and Microsoft. Since its founding, Lucid has received numerous awards for its products, business, and workplace culture. For more information, visit lucid.co.
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