Other parts of this series:
When it comes to legacy system transformation, each government organisation’s journey will be different. Continuous Transformation is an approach I introduced in my last blog that can help organisations maintain some of their legacy systems while evolving to adapt to technological change. There are four paths governments can take towards a Continuous Transformation journey:
- Digital Decoupling
- In-place Modernisation
- Microservice Decoupling
- Parallel Replacement
Aspects of each of these can be used together to suit the organisation’s specific needs and vision. Let’s take a closer look at each one.
The key problem facing enterprises: legacy systems that weren’t built to support technology-based partnerships—Accenture’s Technology Vision for 2018
Digital Decoupling allows us to evolve aspects of the solution without changing the core system. New digital experiences can be created that improve services for citizens and staff, and analytics can be enabled to initiate insight-driven changes to business practices. Following this transformation strategy, West Midlands Police are now able to benefit from real-time intelligence and digital services.
“We’re able to see a much more agile organisation, far more empowered with the information and tools to prevent crime, protect the public, and help those in need.”—Dave Thompson, Chief Constable West Midlands Police
Artificial intelligence can be used here to optimise the experience and insight further. Since the core system is being maintained as-is, there are some constraints to this path, but it will help organisations become more agile and responsive.
In-Place Modernisation retains the legacy system’s database and allows for new functions to update in the same way existing functions do. This is the lowest risk approach to maintain existing data as-is during the modernisation journey and is most appropriate when there are lots of updates happening to an integrated database. Some additions can still be made to the data, but this strategy is best suited to an organisation moving towards microservices.
Microservice Decoupling creates new functions that operate within their own data structures. Microservices is not a single piece of technology, but rather an approach to architecture that uses a suite of tools like APIs, containers, and the cloud to break applications into simple, discrete services. The Australian Taxation Office modernised its systems using this strategy and now delivers personalised digital services that are easy to use and save citizens time.
This complex strategy is appropriate when it is possible to decouple data more readily through an integrated set of functions than can be implemented together.
Parallel Replacement is a more traditional approach whereby a new system is created that exists parallel to the legacy systems and progressively migrates data and functions from the legacy system to the new system. There is some risk with this strategy and high-volume transactions since data must co-exist between the two systems, though this strategy is appropriate for other functions such as workflows or notice generations. This is the only strategy suitable for packaged solutions as most packages are end-to-end, integrated platforms as opposed to microservices.
Each of these strategies will reposition a government’s IT systems to become agile and able to adopt emerging technologies. As part of a Continuous Transformation approach, organisations will need to embark on a journey using a strategy or combination of strategies that best suits its vision.
I look forward to your questions and comments on this as I continue to explore this approach further. Please leave your comments below or reach out to me via LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’re interested in reading more about government transformation, this page dives deeper into transforming back-office government operations.