Applications are the beating heart that powers the modern organisation, and every so often they need a health check (or modernisation). As new technologies make further innovation viable, application modernisation projects allow the business to be running as efficiently and productively as possible.

For most non-tech executives, the motivation behind supporting an app modernisation project is budgetary, though the desire to unlock innovation is there as well. And whether a modernisation project is the right approach or not depends largely on its lifecycle, with the conversation being different if the application has been in use for 20 years, as opposed to one.

For example, we’ve had a number of clients who have spent large amounts of money on million dollar development projects. For these clients it naturally wouldn’t make sense to start from scratch. Meanwhile, a legacy application that has been part of the environment for 20 years is likely inefficient, difficult to maintain, and the business would benefit from adapting its functionality for the cloud.

The Do’s and Don’ts of application modernisation

Application modernisation is one of the trickier elements of transformation, and when the project starts to struggle, it can become both very expensive and very lengthy. Recent research conducted by Wakefield Research suggests that as many as 79 per cent of application modernisation projects fail after 16 months and US $1.5 million in investment.

The research suggests several reasons for this. There are often issues with organisational pushback upfront, which can hamstring projects before they start. As too can budgetary constraints. Meanwhile, pressure on the CIO to speed the project to deliver innovation can also be a challenge, while, on the architect’s side of things, a “lack of intelligent tools,” can lead to project failure.

The single most important thing to do when looking at application modernisation projects is to find a partner who has a history and heritage in successfully delivering projects. Even before you look at the application itself, your organisation might be looking at cloud in a new way, have to put in governance and prepare the team to build and manage the application. The advantage of working with a company like NovaWorks is that we’ve assisted many customers with successful application modernisation projects, and can provide leadership on the management and strategic planning of it from end to end.

In general, the Do’s and Don’t for application modernisation can be summarised as:


  • Talk to a partner with a proven history in application modernisation
  • Take advantage of the cloud provider resources that can assist
  • Make sure you find and use a well architected framework
  • Properly and fully design your solution before you deploy it


  • Don’t start without a plan, including outcomes and carefully calculated time frames. Even if it’s a very simple plan, map it out
  • Don’t just deploy something – you might push something through to an environment which is totally insecure

One final thing to plan carefully against within an application modernisation project is scope creep. One very common mistake is for a business to find an interesting, but not strictly necessary feature to add to an application and release it into production, only to realise too late that it has added to the cost of managing the application on an ongoing basis. Furthermore, once the customer is using the feature it can’t be retracted. Therefore, one final “do” is to make sure that you’re properly planning out the services, and include the scaling of the application in the roadmap.

The time to modernise is now

Despite the risk of failure, the Wakefield research does also show the demand and need for application modernisation is significant. 92 per cent of those surveyed said they are either planning on, or have commenced the journey of modernisation.

It’s just getting the lead on the project where the biggest problem lies. Securing the full budget that will be needed for an app modernisation is something that a full 50 per cent of executives and architects believe will be the most challenging step in the process.

In contrast, 62 per cent of respondents to the Wakefield research survey say that the secret to a successful app modernisation project is having the proper resources and tools available to them. That’s where NovaWorks comes in. We’re not just a consultancy firm, we build software ourselves, meaning that we have access to the right tools and technology for application development. We can also work within a wide range of clouds. By talking to NovaWorks you gain access to proven experience that would be very difficult to build up in a DevOps team.

We also firmly believe in knowledge transfer. We will give you guidance and strategies so that your application modernisation project is a success and will continue to be into the future.

Contact us today for more information on our application modernisation services!