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Legacy Systems: Rip & Replace or Modernize?

Bad legacy systems can cause all kinds of pain for a business. Information travels at a slower pace than it should. Teams don’t communicate as well. Knowledge and value get lost in mismanaged transitions.

But the thought of an expensive, time-consuming technology upgrade is even more intimidating. In-house developers may be busy and backlogged. So then, finding a development partner you can trust becomes another hurdle to jump before the project even begins. And once your project starts, new problems are sure to emerge as soon you solve old ones. Your timeline gets longer, your project gets more expensive, and you feel burned out.

Lucky for you, there’s a better way. Low-code development platforms automate manual tasks that are difficult and time-consuming. These visual, integrated platforms mean that businesses can upgrade technology systems in months — not years. This translates to reduced risk for your business, and a faster return on investment.

At Highland, we love working with low-code platforms to help our clients build transformational technology to solve a wide range of business challenges. The top questions we’re asked as consultants who also happen to build really beautiful software is, “Should we build? And if so, how do we know the right thing to build?”

When we’re considering replacing a legacy system, these follow-up questions help us determine how we can best help our clients:

  • Has someone built an off-the-shelf solution that didn’t exist when this application was previously purchased or built?

  • Is the current application or system heavily used within the organization? Would building a beautiful and functional front end on top of that application solve the problem?

  • Does the application workflow serve the business perfectly, but the current platform or framework is either outdated, sunsetting, or no longer prioritized by the business?

Answers to these questions should lead us down the right path of either going off-the-shelf, modernizing an old application, or a using hybrid approach that keeps core systems in place but gives users a fresh UX on web and mobile.

Our clients come from a number of industries, but three of them have actually taken each of these unique approaches:

A cosmetics manufacturer on the east coast needed to move off of a legacy application, so we modernized and rebuilt the workflow with 3 developers in just 6 weeks.

Thrivent, a Fortune 500 financial services firm based in Minneapolis, is all-in on the platform and have built a number of public-facing web properties for their over 2 million members.

We’re working with a team of two developers to give the 1,000+ employees of a private equity firm in New York City their first native mobile applications to take care of tasks previously only available to them on their desktop.

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