Application modernization remains a challenge for many companies – where to start, how to handle the mountain of older tools and apps the company already owns, and ensuring the modernization investment pays dividends for the business. Yet without addressing why organizations accrue so much technical debt, there is a genuine risk that the project will fail.

Albert Einstein is often credited for saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Although Einstein didn’t say this, the phrase is relevant to the application modernization conversation. If a company doesn’t fix the issues that outdated applications have caused, why should the results be any different this time?

What steps can be taken to avoid this tendency? The process is clear and has little to do with technology but rather with opening the lines of communication. The following are some key considerations for successful application modernization:

Strategic Alignment: Cloud, Business, and Technology

How has the company defined its strategy? How is that communicated? Is there an understanding of what the business needs from IT, and does the business know what IT can deliver? Often, the leadership teams may have some level of insight, but it usually stops with the people in the nice offices. Strategy is dusty and fairly useless if not communicated broadly and clearly.

Portfolio Rationalization

Before modernizing applications in an organization, there should be an effort to understand what is currently in place. What apps are keepers? What apps are targets for upgrade or replacement? Which ones can be retired? The goal of any modernization effort should be to reduce technical debt so the support and agility of the tools are enhanced.

Shadow IT

Engaging and implementing a Software as a Service (SaaS) platform is easy. However, this can contribute to application sprawl without an easy way to manage the implications of service level agreements, necessary integrations, and responsibility for management and upkeep before contracts are signed. Technical debt may not typically start with Shadow IT, but it can accelerate if controls are not in place.


One of the benefits of opening these lines of communication is collaboration in a couple of directions — between development teams across lines of business or between dev teams and the infrastructure group (on-premises or Cloud). Commonly, groups will operate in a siloed fashion and focus on the immediate task at hand, but the costs to the company as a whole can be considerable. The consequences of modernizing applications separately can include redundant tools, duplicative code, delayed timelines, and commercial off-the-shelf customization efforts (COTS).

By addressing these considerations and implementing effective communication strategies, organizations can develop a comprehensive application modernization strategy that aligns with business goals and identifies critical applications for modernization. This communication includes leveraging cloud-based infrastructure and adopting agile development methodologies to improve scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness. Working with experienced, skilled partners makes critical expertise and guidance available throughout the application modernization. These experts can help businesses assess their current state, identify risks and challenges, and develop a clear roadmap for success. By implementing best practices throughout the modernization process and continuously monitoring and improving the strategy, businesses can achieve their objectives and reap the benefits of modernizing their applications.

No matter where your organization is along this continuum — application strategy definition, broader cloud strategy challenges, or organizational issues that can hamper communication, the team at IntraSystems Advisory Division is ready to help. We can also dig into the fun stuff with you and talk about technology when the time is right!