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The biggest barriers to effective enterprise modernization – and how to overcome them

The biggest barriers to effective enterprise modernization – and how to overcome them

Enterprise modernization isn’t always easy. But with the right vision, strategy, cloud platform, and support, it can be much simpler.

From increasing agility to keep pace with customer demands, to eliminating the cost and complexity of managing legacy technology, there are many powerful reasons to explore enterprise modernization.


But the path to making modernization happen isn’t always straightforward. It’s a journey filled with important decisions to make — each one with the potential to impact the future of your organization. 


Just like any multi-faceted journey, there are several common obstacles that organizations must overcome along the way. Here are three of the biggest — and some guidance to help your enterprise overcome them and drive a fast, effective modernization project.


Barrier #1: Maintaining momentum


Modernization projects are big, and if you set off too fast, without a clear plan for incremental value delivery, you can run out of steam quickly. If you don’t resolve underlying issues first, your entire modernization journey can grind to a halt.


Instead, you need to plan your modernization journey upfront, clearly mapping out incremental steps, along with any major technological challenges you’ll need to solve along the way, such as changes in how data is structured.


The strongest journeys begin by targeting applications that have the shortest path to value. These ‘quick wins’ can help you demonstrate the value of modernization from the beginning and secure buy-in for the more challenging shifts that will follow. By following that approach, teams can build momentum in the early stages of modernization, with a strategic plan to maintain it as they tackle tougher applications and underlying challenges associated with their legacy estate.


Barrier #2: Reimagining what’s possible (and what’s needed)


Enterprise modernization involves much more than just cloud migration. It looks at an organization’s entire technology estate and capabilities to determine what changes will enable the business to be more flexible, adaptable, and resilient.


Successful modernization projects start with a desired business goal and work back towards the technology shifts needed to make that goal a reality. That sounds relatively simple, but in practice it challenges you to imagine what could be possible with a modernized application infrastructure that isn’t in place yet. That makes it a tricky task for teams that don’t have a lot of experience working with those kinds of modernized cloud environments.


If teams don’t have a clear endpoint in mind that’s aligned with the goals of the wider organization, their efforts can easily fail to deliver value. Modernization is an evolutionary process that’s resource-intensive and carries significant risks. If the wider enterprise doesn’t have a clear picture of how it will deliver value for them and help them achieve their strategic goals, fatigue will set in quickly and efforts will start to stall.


The best way to overcome this barrier is by beginning your journey with a broad look at your digital initiatives to identify any disconnects or challenges that can be attributed to legacy technology. Those are the areas where modernization can support strategic initiatives across the business.


Barrier #3: Enabling change across the enterprise


Modernization isn’t just a technological evolution. Applications support business functions, so every app you modernize represents a significant cultural and operational shift for your developers, engineers, and organization. If that change isn’t well planned, managed, and supported, teams won’t be able to work effectively with your newly modernized apps — removing a huge amount of the value the project could have delivered.


Managing these cultural and process shifts demands different skills to those required to execute the technical aspects of modernization. You can’t rely exclusively on architects and cloud experts to guide the organization through this change — their skills need to be supplemented with specialist change management expertise. 


Even those with a clear view of how modernization can help the organization achieve its strategic goals will see their projects fail if they don’t bring the teams close to each app on that transformation journey with them. 


Accelerate enterprise modernization with a holistic approach and support


Enterprise modernization is an evolution in the truest sense of the word. It’s a combination of simultaneous transformations in architecture, applications, and business culture. To be successful, every aspect of that evolution must be managed as part of a holistic modernization strategy.


That strategy starts with a clear vision of what you want to achieve, but it also needs to incorporate the right combination of capabilities, expertise, and technology to get you there. That’s why Thoughtworks partners with Amazon Web Services to enable rapid modernization success.


By combining leading cloud infrastructure and digital capabilities from AWS with Thoughtworks’ decades of modernization experience, we bring together everything you need to plan and execute successful enterprise modernization projects.


To learn more about what it takes to accelerate modernization success, and how a holistic modernization approach can help you avoid the pitfalls explored in this blog, download our new co-created guide, Accelerate your Enterprise Modernization by Thoughtworks and AWS, now. 


Inside you’ll discover the five tenets of enterprise modernization, how to see value from modernization quickly, and how to ensure your modernization projects meet the needs of stakeholders across your enterprise and beyond.


Get your copy of the guide now.


Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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