If you work in a medium or a big company with a long history, there is a high probability that now you are dealing with some outdated legacy system. Many business owners suppose that it is okay to work with such systems as they still do their job. They believe that it is easier and cheaper to support old software than to build a new one or migrate. But is it? This article will give you a complete overview of the software migration phenomenon: when it is needed, why, and how to do this with less gain.
What is Software Migration?
Some people imagine software migration as a process of system transfer from one technology to another. However, that is just half of the deal. Shortly speaking, software migration is like rebuilding the system from scratch, implementing the same features and functionalities with modern developing technologies.
Software migration refers to software modernization. During this process, you can rebuild your old software with the new technologies and change the design and add some new features.
Reasons to Migrate
- When technology on which the system is developed is no longer supported.
That’s probably the most critical point. If you are staying with outdated technology, you will not be able even to access the system one day. Moreover, when there are no security updates, you can end up with a hacked database causing information leakage and other consequences.
- When it becomes too pricey and resource-consuming to support.
The old systems are often unable to keep up with modern hardware, browsers, and operating systems. Modern conditions multiplied by legacy code and poor documentation may cause countless bugs and hundreds of person-hours to fix them. With the new software, you can prevent that. Of course, this software will still demand a little support from time to time. But this is the long-term investment that will pay off.
- When the system does not correspond to the renovated business processes.
If your company is experiencing significant growth, changes in the business model, and processes that cannot be handled with the existing system — consider the migration. This will save you much time in the future, eliminate the error level, and contribute to your business’s further growth.
- When the system cannot be integrated with modern tools.
Let’s say you are using the old Customer Relationship Management System. A long time ago, such systems were only capable of storing information about your actual clients. Today CRM can be integrated with your website analytics, emailing system, and order management system. It can give you all the possible customer insights and endless possibilities for communication with customers and improve customer experience, raising your profits. And this can be applied not only to CRMs but also to other systems like HRM (Human Resource Management), ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), etc.
If you resonate at least with one of these points — the time has come.
Migration Process Flow
Combine a Migration Plan
At the first stage, we recommend thorough preparation of the documentation necessary for migration planning and development, namely:
- Business and technical requirements;
- Project specification (in case if additional functionality is required);
- Project plan (to plan time for each stage).
If you want your system to work during the migration process, you should take care of the test environment and configure the version control system. All related development tasks and sub-projects should be performed in a separate environment (on a separate server) not to interrupt business activities.
This is optional, but if you want to breathe a new life into your product, you can request a design change. Most of the software development companies have at least a couple of designers on their side. If you already have the designer on your side, you can give them the tasks related to redesign and then send the ready layouts to the development team.
Modules Installation and Development of Additional Functionality
After redevelopment of the basic functionality, old modules should be replaced with the new ones. The team can then develop additional modules or functionality if the client required some additional functionality that wasn’t a part of the initial system.
Data migration is not an obligatory step. However, if the data is critically valuable, it is recommended not to neglect this step. Here, you can consider some options, e.g., if you store the information on the on-premise server you may want to migrate it to the cloud or the newer database version.
Publishing Planning & Database Synchronization
After the final testing of a redeveloped system, you must get ready for the project publishing.
Before that, we recommend buying a compatible hosting or setting up your dedicated server following the new system requirements. After that, you can start additional synchronization of the new database. It is recommended to transfer the latest data from the old system to the new one.
The last stage of the project migration is the product’s release at a convenient time for the end-users not to interrupt the sessions. It’s also recommended to perform the product release under the control of software developers and testing specialists to detect and fix the bugs if they emerge.
Tips for Successful Migration
Here are some steps that we recommend due to our experience:
1. Hire universal specialists
Here we mean the developers who are proficient with both technologies — the one you migrate from and the one you migrate to. Such a team can read and understand the code and how everything works in the old version and do some reverse engineering performing the same with the new technology. Of course, these specialists’ rates can be relatively high, but this approach will ensure faster delivery and the best possible compliance with the new system.
2. Prepare data backup
This one is a must-have, although often neglected one. You never know what can happen during the migration. For some force-majours, we recommend backing everything up, especially the data. It will eliminate the risk of data loss or damage.
Depending on the appropriate methods, ask developers to document every step of migration. Use the project management tool to keep everyone informed and gather documentation.
Before the migration, this is also great if you take inventory of assets. So after the migration, you could make sure that the team hasn’t lost anything along the way. For some software and applications, you should take inventory of each possible action and function, the way it interacts with the backend, and the unique custom configurations if they take place.
Benefits of software migration
Along with the renovated system, you will get the following benefits:
- increased efficiency of the system;
- modern, intuitive, and user-friendly interface;
- increased productivity of departments;
- reduced costs on software support and operation;
- decreased errors;
- integration with modern tools;
- easier scalability of the system.
What systems are not worth migrating?
Despite the migration benefits we mentioned above, there is software that still doesn’t need to be migrated. For example, some complex products that won’t be updated anymore and have a limited number of users. It will be possible to use outdated versions of browsers or think of some other “roundabouts” at the appropriate workplaces.
But it’s only possible in the case of internal use, where the end-users of the product are the company’s employees. If the product is intended for external mass use, the migration is undoubtedly necessary and must be performed as soon as possible.
For example, if software built on Flash is installed and used in some company, and its further updating is not planned — you can stick to it: it will still work for some time. Now in some governmental organizations, you can find software written in Delphi, and it still does its job. However, now no one can develop and update such software. Eventually, it will simply go out of use and have to be replaced with something else.
The software migration process is not as painful and costly as it seems. If you have a test environment, your system can operate without any interruption of the working process. When you plan everything thoroughly, the migration will go smoothly, especially if an experienced development team performs it.
Originally published at https://www.intexsoft.com on December 28, 2020.