November 11, 2019 Application Modernization

Application Modernization: Getting It Right

Our Application Modernization 3-Part Series has looked at legacy software modernization signals, and tips for making rebuild or replace decisions for mission critical applications. Now that you know modernization is a must, and you know if you’re looking at a refresh, rebuild or replace scenario, it’s time to map out your application modernization project plan to ensure a successful outcome. 

There are a lot of scary stories out there about epic software deployment failures. Everyone has a friend or colleague who has a horror story to share about an application roll out gone horribly wrong. While no one can promise perfection, there are absolutely things you can and should do to avoid the common application modernization and software development challenges. 

Common Application Modernization Pitfalls 

There are many reasons application modernization projects go off the rails but here are some of the most common causes of failures: 75% say that their IT projects are always or usually doomed right from the start. Geneca Survey

  • Unclear objectives and lack of proper discovery. Kicking off a project without a clear understanding of the goal, scope and process is a recipe for scope creep, shifting deadlines and blowing the budget 
  • Unrealistic timing. Trying to squeeze a mission critical application modernization project into a short timeframe will lead to disappointment.  
  • Budgets that don’t align with project requirements. Trying to build a Bugatti on a Toyota budget will lead to cutting corners and costly mistakes in the long run.  
  • Choosing low cost over quality and experience. Budgets are important but low-cost/offshore developers can wind up costing more when projects fail. 
  • Lack of proper project resourcing. Too few skilled resources or too many cooks in the kitchen will slow you down. Choose the right project manager and technology partner to help keep the project on track.  
  • No documented plan for all the phases of the project. This often leads to important steps getting missed, like quality testing and training.  

Application Modernization Project Checklist  

Whether you’re refreshing, rebuilding or completely rewriting your existing application, here’s a quick application modernization project checklist to help keep you on track. 

Discovery & Defining Functional Requirements

  • Review all layers of existing application in detail
  • Define technical design, UX/UI and business requirements 
  • Review accessibility and privacy compliance 
  • Identify process changes, new features and functionality needed 
  • Consider integrations required with other applications and IT systems 
  • Keep in mind future enhancements and scalability needs 


  • Select a software development partner 
  • Conduct detailed discovery and define functional requirements (as detailed above) with partner 
  • Set a budget and consider phasing the project if needed 
  • Define a timeline and deadlines for build, testing and deployment 
  • Review hosting options on-premises, cloud or hybrid — and allocate time and resources to migration if necessary 
  • Assign a project manager to keep you on track 
  • Dedicate skilled resources and ensure everyone is well-informed of their role 

Building & Testing 

  • Define the best development approach for your project, be it Agile, Waterfall or a hybrid approach  
  • Use collaborative tracking and communication tools such as DevOps  
  • Schedule regular code check-ins to track progress 
  • Be flexible and anticipate scope changes 
  • Test to ensure the application is performing as intended  


  • Host training sessions for system managers and end-users before the go-live date
  • Deployment can be tricky and can take longer than expected, so really plan out this phase of the project well 
  • Choose the best time to launch and go live, like on a weekend when usage is minimal 
  • Considering releasing updates in stages to minimize disruption 

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail 

At Whitecap, we talk a great deal about the importance of planning before beginning any software development project. There’s a good reason for that: A detailed project plan for all aspects of the project including UX/UI design, development, QA, User Acceptance Testing (UAT), deployment and training helps smooth the implementation process and ensure a successful project outcome.  

Through many years of experience, we’ve perfected our eRAD™ (e-Business Requirements Analysis & Design) process for documenting the functional and design requirements of every project before we start to build anything. It’s a powerful method that helps guide our customers through the planning process and define their vision for the solution so we can capture today’s requirements and tomorrow’s growth opportunities. 

Looking for help assessing the state of your legacy applications? We can help you map out your application modernization project. Let’s chat. 

Link to Application Modernization Guide