Fast-Track Legacy Modernization with Low Code
As the scarcity of qualified application developers has put a restraint on how organizations deploy applications, low code programming has come to the rescue, gaining traction in many forward-looking enterprises. By using low code software development platforms that contain functional modules, developers can literally drag and drop features and processes into an application package without manually entering lines and lines of their own code, dramatically cutting the time to production. Less time on programming means lower costs and greater programmer productivity. Given these advantages of low code/no code, it’s no wonder enterprises are widely adopting it. Forrester Research indicates the low-code market will top $21 billion in spending by 2022. Meanwhile, the Gartner Group estimates 65% of all application development will be low code/no code by 2024.i
Most legacy transformations, however, require a low code approach, as no code development cannot address many of the intricacies of translating legacy processes in cloud environments. Using low code development, organizations are accelerating the modernization of legacy applications over building or retooling apps from scratch. Low code for legacy has obvious advantages:
- Lower costs
- Quicker app delivery
- Increased business agility
- Better integration and governance
Costs savings come not only from better leveraging software developers’ time, but also from getting apps to market—or in front of users—much more quickly. While there is manual coding involved (hence low code), the vast majority of the ‘finished’ app is from vetted and solid code modules. This quick low code delivery also gives organizations significant agility—they can try an app out and tweak its features and functions over a very short period of time with minor manual enhancements in less time than building from scratch. The features, functions, and processes of legacy apps can be preserved through “last mile” adaptations of the low code to integrate with back end systems and processes. In few cases, legacy applications may have lost relevance and utility for users, hence organizations turn to outside Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications to fill the gaps. However, third party shadow IT solutions often do not integrate well (or at all) with internal processes.
As an example of legacy modernization, Unisys recently designed, built, tested, and now operates the new Driver License Theory Testing system for a national government agency. The previous technology used for the system was aged, out of support, and represented a significant business risk to the agency. Mobile testing, although possible was cumbersome requiring pre-configured software on dedicated devices; hindering testing accessibility. Also, the system was not integrated with the Driver License Register, which resulted in manually posting of data into the system, opening the risk of human error and fraud.
Unisys used OutSystems, a market-leading low-code Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) development environment to rapidly improve remote and multi-device access to testing. The new system was implemented in less than six months, including user testing, market research, and business change management. As the new system is cloud-based, it increased access for drivers to take their driver license theory test anywhere, improved experience for applicants through seamless faster processing from booking till the delivery of licenses, and also reduced the time for agents to administer a test by approximately 20%. The flexibility of the new system allows for more tests to run in peak demand periods such as school holidays. Unisys designed the system to be self-managing. The agency can rapidly respond to legislative changes or other material requirements when needed offering business agility. As the solution is provided as a cloud-based SaaS offering, the agency pays only for what they use, and there were no upfront development or implementation costs.
At many organizations, legacy systems such as badge ID, area access, VPN, SharePoint and other proprietary processes and systems are too valuable and useful to replace, and often have interdependent, centralized uses. These systems are often based on-premises. Cloud-based low code enables them to modernize these systems, remove many friction points, yet retain their inherent core system value. Low code also provides a high level of application portability, providing multi-platform front end legacy functions. The essential principal when approaching low code legacy modernization should be to preserve legacy processes that are working and core to the business.
In the digital era, employees expect a consumer like user experience and this requires integration across disparate siloed systems and processes. To bridge this gap, organizations are trying to create seamless workflows using the traditional approach but are often finding it difficult to realize the vision. A low code platform allows such organizations to adapt and employ Enterprise Service Management (ESM) principles by enabling them to rapidly streamline, integrate, and automate service workflows across legacy systems in an enterprise.
In our own environment here at Unisys, we’ve used ServiceNow low code to consolidate legacy badge ID systems, area access request applications, and all the internal IT ticketing systems into a single platform. We also built a holistic and centralized Identity Access Management (IAM) system. This consolidation and centralization preserve important core functions yet streamline maintenance and reduce complexity. During this process, Unisys has built accelerators that increase speed to market and reduce implementation costs for Enterprise Service Management. Powered by our accelerators as part of our CloudForte® offering, enterprises aiming to transform their Service Management platforms can reap these benefits:
Increased Employee Satisfaction: Employees can experience a consumer-like service portal to register, track, and view their requests through a single platform, thereby reducing the burden on departments to provide updates. Also, chatbots can be configured on each employee device to enable them to directly navigate to the form page with appropriate details already filled in, resulting in greater employee productivity.
Cross Departmental Collaboration Through Consolidation: Service requests can be made to multiple departments simultaneously, which enables the teams to work together and complete shared goals swiftly. The efforts made by each team can be tracked in real time to identify bottlenecks and resolve issues immediately.
Optimized Security Operations: Optimizations eliminate tracking of security incidents via email and spreadsheets. Different teams may have different tracking mechanisms in place with data scattered across the teams and systems, resulting in more time for remediation and run a risk of alerts being missed amidst the noise.
Single Pane of Glass: With a strong ESM platform in place, management can define and systematically track KPIs in real-time through reports and dashboards for process improvement.
In these legacy modernization scenarios, better management, agility and more efficient outcomes should drive low code implementations—avoiding the cost and complexity of starting over with an entirely new code and app base yet delivering continued value. The result is a leaner, more streamlined blueprint-based and process-focused approach to application modernization we call LeanBiz™. At Unisys we’ve used LeanBiz™ modernization for customers in a variety of environments, such as Salesforce and ServiceNow. Our security expertise also ensures that any low code legacy makeover is compliant and secure, using vendor-neutral tools and optimizations to verify best practice compliance and security from end-to-end.
If your organization is due for a modernization approach or to trim your development costs, LeanBiz™ can help. And as the low code marketplace continues to expand and mature, as an entirely vendor-neutral service provider, we are actively encouraging app tool providers to contact us with their exciting new advances in this market.
i Ramel. “Low Code Tooling Takeover.” Application Development Trends Magazine. https://adtmag.com/articles/2019/08/12/gartner-lowcode.aspx