Modernizing your IBM i (aka iSeries & AS/400) RPG applications can take many forms and can have some amazing results for your business. But before you get started, you will want to consider some best practices to help your modernization project be as successful as it can be.
Asking the right questions, understanding the pitfalls, and creating clear goals for your modernization project are all vital in creating the best practices for your application modernization project. Today we take a look at some of the best practices you should be looking at before you begin to modernize your applications.
Ask the Right Questions:Before you begin to invest heavily in any modernization effort, you first want to make sure a modern application is worth the time, effort, and money that it takes. Management may look at a 5250 green screen and say, "that is completely outdated... let's modernize it!" But is that the correct choice for your business? Asking a few simple questions can help you start your modernization project out on the right foot.
- Is there real value in the legacy application to you or your clients?
- Is there a competitive edge that your legacy application gives you?
- What is the cost/risk of modernizing your application?
- Would modernization improve the business processes?
- Would modernizing inhibit or enhance service delivery methods for you?
Understanding the Pitfalls:
At first, the idea of modernization excites people, but that excitement quickly turns to frustration when they realize the amount of work that is involved in the entire process. One way to avoid setbacks and reduce the time spent on modernization is to avoid certain pitfalls that are common.
Embrace the new: Modernizing is inherently new, and implies doing things in a different way. But we are all creatures of habits and one of the biggest pitfalls that companies fall into is not changing their practices while implementing new tools. Don't fall into old patterns... embrace the new tools and habits that will come with the project.
Start Small: Many companies get excited about a modernization project and the impact that it can have on their business. Being excited is a good thing, but trying to do too much at once can slow down the process. We call it Agile Modernization. Modernizing what you need currently without disrupting your business. Starting with one application can save you plenty of time and money.
PoC is your friend: Part of starting small is requesting a Proof of Concept (PoC) from whomever you decide to help you with your modernization effort. This will help you evaluate different options, software, and strategies that will best serve your company.
Communicate your goals: You may be the lead on a modernization effort, but you might have management, users, or others currently using your application. Or you might have people in your company who will be greatly affected by the modernization effort. Don't keep them in the dark. Let them know what you plan on doing and when you plan on doing it.
Ask for help: Even small modernization efforts can be filled with new things that you have never heard of. Sure you can spend hours/days researching how to use certain tools and their functionality, but why not just ask the experts. Bring in a consultant, reach out to the support of a company, ask for help. This will greatly speed up the process and make life a lot easier for you. If you are considering Profound Logic's software our support team is always available for help!
Set Your Goals:Whether you are modernizing your code, user interfaces, database, or a combination of them... setting clear goals for your entire modernization project is imperative. This is not a process that you want to go into without a clear-cut plan. That is why getting an outside assessment from others can really give you the plan you need, instead of the plan you think you need. Speak to those who use the application and see what they need from it; speak with top management and see what they want out of the application. Depending on what issues you have, your approach to modernization can change. Having an experienced modernization consultant can also help define quick and long-term goals. Start with simple and realistic goals to get the project up and running.
- Don't change the code, UI, and the database all at once.
- Set goals that everyone can understand and relate too, not just the IT department.
- Don't modernize the entire application at once, segment the project and create smaller goals.
- Never underestimate the learning curve that you will have using new tools and practices.
When you take a step back and ask questions, understand the pitfalls, and set clear goals your modernization project will get started on the right foot. Too many companies jump feet first into their modernization projects before fully understanding what is in store for them and waste years of effort and millions of dollars. Not sure what the next step is for your modernization project? No matter where you are right now, Profound Logic can assist, contact us and let us know how we can get your modernization project up and running!