Why UX Equivalency Matters in Modernizations

 

When we talk about modernizations, often the conversations immediately switch to technology: what is the source platform of the legacy application; is it monolithic or is it client/server; what are the target platform and architecture; is it browser-based or mobile; is it cloud-based with microservices; etc. The conversation becomes one between the developers and the technologists, yet with a potentially far-reaching impact on the business.

The reality is that mission-critical IT applications that are built in-house have been in development for hundreds of person-years, with many dozens of engineers and testers responsible for their years of maintenance, which would translate to hundreds of millions of dollars. More often than not, the documentation is scarce and inadequate to effectively support and especially to maintain these systems. Yet the users of the system are very proficient and efficient in implementing it. They have developed their own custom shortcuts and tricks for getting their jobs done.

Rewrites or wholesale replacements of the mission-critical application inevitably leave the company with an entirely different system. In addition to the cost, time, and effort needed to replace a legacy system, an IT organization also would be required to retrain the end users on the new system and replace all the manuals and documentation. This costs the company not only money, but precious time.

Retraining the workforce is a big disruption for a business. This is why many modernizations are delayed until the situation turns dire—when the infrastructure will no longer support the system or there isn’t anyone left to maintain it.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

What is UX Equivalency?

UX Equivalency Modernization Example

What we mean by user experience (UX) equivalency is that the modernized system would remain recognizable to the end-user and would be 100% equivalent from a usability perspective. With today’s technology, we can take a hosted/mainframe or desktop system and recreate the exact same look, feel, and behavior in a browser.

Similarly, a Windows-based MDI-type GUI application that uses drag and drop, tables, spreadsheets, graphics, modal/modeless dialogs, etc., also can be modernized to work in the browser as an HTML5 Single Page Application (SPA) with equivalent GUI functionality, richness, and presentation semantics. And we can do this without any special browser plug-ins or any desktop deployments. When the user types in a URL, the usability and functionality of their system will remain equivalent inside the browser, with all the benefits of being in a modern programming language and platform.

What are the Benefits of UX Equivalency?

A pure technologist may argue against having the modernized application look and feel like the dated application, but the business benefits are far too great to ignore. These include:

  • No end-user retraining for internal, external, or even paying customers
  • No need to update support, knowledge bases, training manuals, or any other documentation
  • No need for a massive change management overhaul
  • No degradation in performance; preserves all built-in performance efficiencies developed by engineers over the years
  • No productivity loss; preserves all the known productivity shortcuts already developed by end-users
  • No production release delays; following user acceptance (UAT), a modernized application is ready to go live

Only a modernization that guarantees UX equivalency can ensure no operational disruptions to the business. UX equivalency really focuses on eliminating the hidden costs associated with modernizations.

Hidden Costs Savings of UX Equivalency

These hidden costs of modernizations due to a new UX can be quite staggering, especially if it necessitates retraining a sizable workforce or one that is dispersed worldwide. To illustrate the impact, here’s an example of an enterprise insurance company.

This insurance company had a propriety system that handled all their rating and quoting. Customers would call the company to obtain quotes on their automobile, homeowners, or other insurance, and the agents would enter this information into the system to supply the quotes. In addition, the company also relied on a distributed channel of third-party agents to help drive new business. These third-party agents typically were employed by small insurance companies that also used the system to provide quotes to prospective customers.

In the case of a new UX, this company would need to retrain all of its 10,000 employees on the new system, as well as their external workforce, a network of 20,000 independent insurance agents. Once the company began adding these additional costs, the modernization would become both expensive and disruptive. While this is feasible, the opportunity costs are quite high and the impact on the end-user experience could be overwhelming.

A modernization approach that ensures 100% UX equivalency would prevent the pitfalls described above and allow the entire workforce of 30,000 agents to continue their day-to-day operations with no interruption and little to no impact on the overall business.

UX Equivalency Helps the Developers, Too

UX equivalency also is important for the developers who update, modify, and support the modernized application. The learning curve of a modernization application would be limited to only the adoption of a new programming language. Structurally, the source code would remain the same. Any test automation scenarios built over the years would remain unchanged, and the engineers and testers would be able to use them on the target platform. Therefore, developers would be able to smoothly transition to the new platform and apply their domain expertise to further enhance and maintain the system, with minimal impact. Once the modernized application goes live, both the end-users and the developers would remain 100% productive in running and maintaining the modernized system.

Synchrony Systems Guarantees 100% UX Equivalency in Modernizations

Synchrony understands that modernizing a large and complex legacy application can be a major undertaking, fraught with high risk and expense. It doesn’t have to be this way. Our approach and methodology, backed by the power of MLP, accelerates the modernization time-to-value and guarantees functional and UX equivalency. We balance the overall speed, cost, quality, and risk, while creating a unified experience, in order to address the inherent complexity of a modernization process in a frictionless and predictable way.

Contact us to learn more about how we can help you maintain 100% UX equivalency on your modernization initiative. Your users will thank you!