We were delighted to host this digital transformation leadership roundtable event in partnership with thetrainline.com.
Key takeaways from the discussion:
Whether they’re poised to do it, in the middle of doing it, or having just done it, re-platforming is on the minds of the leading customer-facing businesses in the UK — so in conjunction with the trainline.com, we brought together technology leaders to share their experiences of undertaking an effective re-platforming strategy.
Here are some of their key learnings on the journey to a re-platforming success.
How to deal with monoliths
Monoliths are still the bedrock of many companies’ commercial systems, but they’re replete with problems – often, their development moves at a far slower pace than the rest of the business’ IT. Monoliths are also typically accompanied by skills problems – the staff that set up the monoliths have long since left or retired, and that means a huge amount of useful expertise has gone with them.
For some organisations, the answer to monoliths is to ‘find the seams’ – to work out what pieces can be saved, and work around those. For others, a total rebuild is the preferred option: it may have a greater level of risk, especially if it means losing features along the way, but it can also bring greater reward.
Take the scenic route
There’s so much riding on re-platforming, technology leaders shouldn’t be afraid to go backwards before going forwards.
For some, that means spending more time understanding and abstracting the legacy system, before starting to approach the new one. If businesses’ circumstances change, or the new system isn’t shaping up as hoped, stopping and retooling is often worthwhile – the new platform should be set up to serve the company well for years to come, and so it pays to get it right the first time.
In order to end up with the right platform in the end, companies should be prepared to take a hit on systems development in the meantime. While most tech leaders, and their boards, will feel uncomfortable agreeing not to launch new features for a period, the wait is worth it — in short, when it comes to re-platforming, engineers will have to be prepared to feel the fear and do it anyway.
Similarly, companies may find themselves struggling to keep rock star developers interested in some of the more routine work involved in re-platforming. Giving staff as much creative freedom as possible, and making sure you hire and build the right team ahead of the re-platforming, can help.
What microservices architecture can and can’t fix
A microservices architecture can give a businesses a greater degree of flexibility – its ability to easily cost, build, and deploy new features makes it highly appealing to technology leaders today. Equally, a microservices architecture provides an extra level of comfort when it comes to features that go awry – not only can they be rolled back at speed, but also it’s far easier to find where the problem occurred, and keep the fallout contained.
That said, as with any strategy, it can’t fix what’s already broken – if the overall business and technology strategy isn’t watertight, even the best architecture can’t make it OK.
Put GDPR front and centre
No one has the definitive answer to the best way to handle GDPR, but re-platforming will give organisations a better insight into where their customer data is and who’s handling it.
Going forward, engineering leaders need to make sure that an awareness of GDPR is an essential in any re-platforming effort.
For more information on the event, or if you have any Digital and Development hiring needs, get in touch with Simon Bird: Simon.Bird@lafosse.com.
Learn more about our Digital & Development practice.