Integrated product development in a legacy software environment

Legacy software is a hot topic for many companies these days, not only because the existing IT processes can be very slow, but also because their core applications are too difficult to change and adapt.

Integrated product development in a legacy software environment

Legacy software reduces operational production efficiency

Legacy software is a hot topic for many companies these days, not only because the existing IT processes can be very slow, but also because their core applications are too difficult to change and adapt. Adjusting existing IT processes and programs to the market is no longer a wish but a necessity. Diverse customer expectations, innovative digital services and products or an increase in the production pace are just some of the challenges.

In most companies, the systems and applications have grown over the years to meet these challenges. Companies that have not implemented and adapted digital programs often face technological efficiency problems in production. Product managers must overcome the consequences of a suboptimal system by putting more effort into it in order to keep production running smoothly.

To make significant technological changes within the company, a fundamental digital transformation is more effective than experimenting with pure technology. Collaborative work apps, integrated applications, and optimized systems are key to modernizing internal processes. However, the reliance on legacy software is a major challenge on the road to digital transformation.

Product development and introduction of new products - Best Practices

In the 2019 Gartner Product Leadership for Product Managers Survey, the methods for product development were a high topic. When asked which keyword best describes the product development processes implemented in the company, 17% of the 205 PMs surveyed emphasized the introduction of new products. Other methods are RAD and Critical Path Method.

Manufacturing companies are constantly trying to identify best practices in the new product development process. Successful companies focus on product value, not just product costs. That increases both customer satisfaction and product profitability. As a result, manufacturers improve product value by using effective new products.

The market entry of new manufacturers and increasing competition in all manufacturing areas lead to a constant introduction of innovative products to the market. An extremely demanding challenge for manufacturing companies is to understand the target group of the product in order to position the unique selling point correctly. It is necessary to first understand the basic needs and requirements of the clients for the manufacturing product.

The shortening product life cycle in manufacturing forces companies to constantly present innovations to customers. In the context of a saturated market, this phenomenon leads to a shortening of the product life cycle and an inversely proportional increase in the frequency of launches. A new product packaging or visual identity, as well as a price reduction through discounts and offers, are the classic strategies of product suppliers to increase sales. Nevertheless, these approaches are not always sufficient. Innovative products, digital solutions and customer-oriented production are only parts of a successful product development strategy.

Prioritizing effective product development methods is also a challenge in product development. Companies that develop a successful strategy determine at an early stage which are the appropriate methods for product development. A best practice is to implement several methods simultaneously or prioritized. Many companies combine different methods from the areas of R&D, market research, procurement and product management, which are prioritized according to the company's goals.

A lack of digitally integrated processes: many companies continue to use outdated systems, regardless of their age and quality, because the existing technologies are still applicable. The software has worked perfectly for years and most tasks are still being solved. Nevertheless, there are many reasons why legacy software should be optimized.

Integrated product development in a legacy infrastructure

Environmental companies are adapting their operating and business models to the digital age as a variety of innovative technologies, products and services and the importance of the customer experience are being fundamentally redefined. To maintain relevance in a dynamic market environment, companies must increase agility and operational efficiency and accelerate not only innovation but also end-to-end product development and rollout.

In this context, the modernization of legacy systems with legacy applications and infrastructure plays a crucial role. Companies that want to make aggressive use of the cloud, mobility, the Internet of Things (IoT) and various other technologies require a complete transformation of their legacy software.

Many of the existing legacy systems are not adapted to ensure the necessary flexibility, scalability, integration and advanced functionality. These systems typically have a high total cost of ownership (TCO), are incompatible with newer technologies and provide a sub-optimal end-user experience (UX).

Three phase-specific best practices for implementing integrated product development in a legacy infrastructure environment

The initial phase: attention to practical application and compatibility of production systems

Many legacy modernization programs have been implemented in recent years. It is especially important to conduct a comprehensive analysis to ensure that the new technology is compatible with the existing software. New software does not have to match the existing system. Sometimes no radical change is required, only technology upgrades or support.

The Implementation Phase: Achieving Business Interests

The complete replacement or modification of legacy systems is a risky undertaking. In the past year, some successful production companies in Europe have taken a unique approach: instead of carrying out the

standardized way of modernization, they have invested resources in continuous improvement during the implementation phase. This is what the goal of digital transformation states: leverage existing experience and trials to implement a suitable solution but monitor the whole process for further improvements during implementation. This is how you migrate an existing legacy system to a concrete result.

The final phase: being ready for the future

Pursuing long-term objectives in the context of digital transformation is one of the main tasks of any product manager. Entrepreneurs often decide in favour of integrated product development only in case of an emergency or a complete system failure. However, updating the software or implementing an integrated platform is no guarantee that modernization will not be needed in the future. To fill the gap between the current status and future market requirements, companies have to rethink, digitize and modernize their business models.

Regardless of the approach and technology chosen, software modernization is a complex, labour-intensive and risky process. However, the result is optimized production and an integrated product development process. To meet the requirements of the new digital transformation economy, companies will only benefit if they no longer view modernization as a one-off project but as a cycle.

For the modernization of legacy software, the expertise of a specialized IT provider can be a great help. Specialized IT providers take care of every aspect of legacy system modernization, from analyzing the current solution, developing a solid business strategy, prioritizing features, to rebuilding your product using the latest technologies and architecture solutions.

A Success Story

As an example of a legacy software modernization, Accesa has developed state-of-the-art software for a German market leader in the production of particle analysis devices. Using an agile Scrum methodology, our teams helped the manufacturer improve their customer experience, increase production stability and implement a modernization process of the existing software for optimized maintenance, by operating with technologies such as .Net C#, WPF, Spring.NET, Entity Framework and Dapper.