When it comes to making the necessary migration to bring legacy IT systems and processes up to speed to meet the challenges of today’s business environment, financial services firms often find themselves bogged down in the Legacy Technology Trap: struggling to implement a smooth legacy IT technology transformation while being plagued by a host of common transformation pain points. At the heart of this situation is the failure to develop the right kind of migration strategy to address (and avoid) the drivers behind those pain points.

In my previous post, I exposed the driving factors behind the Legacy Technology Trap that can often hinder successful legacy migration. The good news is, firms can overcome these stumbling blocks and accelerate their transformation by applying an agile approach to developing a legacy migration strategy.

An agile legacy technology migration strategy is built upon opportunities for business growth, and should be driven from the top down to keep the process concise and on point. In this approach, legacy technology migration is viewed holistically as a core business strategy, not simply an effort driven by IT. Firms will vary in their specific migration process, but the agile methodology underpins the strategic approach.

Defining and developing an agile approach

The building blocks for agile strategy development include:

  • The overall migration approach, which involves breaking deliverables down into small, incremental activities that have clearly outlined accountabilities
  • “Speedboats,” which essentially are topics that are accelerated by high management attention to drive faster decision making
  • A governance processes that aligns with business objectives
  • An overall timeline that clearly identifies stages and steps
  • Adequate budgeting to fund the strategic initiative
  • A target operating model

An agile strategy can be developed within as little as a ten-week time period. Each week is focused on selecting one of the building blocks as the key deliverable.

It is essential that an agile strategy be created in strong partnership between business and IT, with committed support from the CIO and other stakeholders. Also, firms must employ traditional agile methodologies (such as Scrum, Kanban and daily stand-ups) to produce the right results, and be willing to rely on and leverage industry specialists to help drive top-down scope reduction and keep the migration on track.

Agile migration strategy in “real life”

Accenture was able to help a multi-national bank develop a legacy system migration strategy for one of its core banking systems, which was based on 40-year-old Mainframe technology. The migration was prompted by the need to support concurrent digitalization initiatives as well as regulatory requirements.

The system stored all client-and product-related data and was under constant access from more than 100 other systems. The bank’s main challenge was the timely migration of the old system to a new system landscape based on state-of-the-art technology and IS architecture guidelines.

Using a ten-week, agile project approach that incorporated both Accenture technology strategy as well as technology advisory assets and methods, we were able to help this firm develop a thorough legacy migration strategy for the existing system that included the definition of the future system architecture. The migration approach itself including specific migration guidelines, a corresponding project organization and timeline, and a detailed migration business case, as well as the definition of several short-term mitigation activities for the migration period.

Making a legacy migration strategy work for your firm

While every firm has its own specific migration needs, each firm can benefit by developing an agile legacy technology migration strategy that meets those needs, avoids common paint points and prepares the firm to better deliver value to customers and the business in the future.

Regardless of your firm’s situation and business needs, you will want to ensure your planning process includes the following overarching success factors for an agile migration strategy:

  • Incremental deliverables that are clearly tracked and met
  • Short development, or sprint, cycles that are based on clear messages and decisions
  • A top-down approach to drive greater efficiency
  • Strong senior management sponsorship to accelerate progress
  • Early provisioning of target interfaces to avoid business disruptions

For more information on overcoming the legacy technology trap, please see the Accenture report: Overcoming the Legacy Technology Trapa playbook for legacy IT transformation in the insurance sector.



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