4 Mistakes to Avoid While Scaling Up Your Infrastructure Migration from legacy systems done right is key to the future of your businesses.

By Devishobha Chandramouli

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Sustainable change requires three traits: flexibility, agility and scalability, all of which are indispensable to the growth of a business. Growth can come in many ways -- through acquisition, partnerships, breakthrough business models and good old organic growth.

Whatever the strategy, a common roadblock for many organizations is infrastructure. Modernization of infrastructure requires switching to modern technology from legacy systems that are usually mission-critical for the business but tied to technology that becomes increasingly harder to maintain.

Contrary to popular belief, this problem is not just limited to decades-old companies with some outdated technology. WeWork, a firebrand startup until the collapse of its IPO, is tangled in irrevocable complications running up to tens of millions of dollars due to years of patchwork and bandaid tech solutions to keep up the pace of their expansion. And the cosmetics giant Revlon is facing lawsuits from investors because their migration to SAP ERP went wrong.

In a nutshell, smooth migration to modern technology can make or break your business. Here, four migration experts weigh in on some of the top mistakes companies make while updating their infrastructure -- and how to avoid them.

Related: Should You Scale or Should You Grow?

1. Expecting a monolithic migration.

"A big challenge is an insistence by companies on a monolithic rollout -- implementing the new system all at once," says Neel Sus, CEO of Susco Solutions. "We typically advise an iterative rollout, which allows for any needed adjustments or fixes to be made bit by bit. Companies also underestimate the scope of the data-migration part of the project and often don't leave enough in their budget to complete this step effectively. Successful conversions also include enough space in the budget for data-migration. It's easy to underestimate the needs of this step, but it's a crucial step that [generally] requires 25 percent or more of the total budget."

2. Underestimating the scope of legacy customizations.

"Legacy customizations during migrations become an outstanding challenge," offers Oren Peleg, Director of Product Management for SAP at Panaya. "If you don't know what exactly will break in your customized code before the actual conversion project, you'll find yourself running multiple sandboxes and doing continuous testing and fixing. This alone has the potential to drain resources and budgets or delay go-live date, contributing to the problem of justifying a business case for the migration. We advise accurate effort assessments to accelerate conversion projects and minimize go-live errors."

3. Not training employees effectively on new workflows.

"Too often, companies will complete a migration and then fail to adequately train their employees on the new systems, leading to reduced production and a frustrated workforce," cautions Brian Berns, CEO of Knoa Software. "We advise spending time identifying business-critical software issues like antiquated, inefficient and overly complicated processes so that they can be addressed before migration. It is important to pinpoint complex and inefficient workflows, enabling companies to prioritize which applications to migrate first and make any needed adjustments before moving them to the new platform. Once the project is complete, there has to be a way to quickly identify user challenges, adoption gaps and workflow complexities, allowing for intelligent and rapid remediation."

Related: Avoid the 'Too Fast, Too Furious' Approach to Scaling a Startup

4. Being rigid about legacy customizations.

"Legacy software is usually heavily customized, with so much 'spaghetti' code that it would be impossible to untangle without breaking half of the company's systems," explains Maryanne Steidinger of Webalo. "To replicate the functionality may be cost-prohibitive. We advise a rapid application-development approach that works with a customer's legacy systems to help guide, educate and inform their frontline workers. We emphasize the importance of extending a legacy functionality, so rather than ripping and replacing, you can have an overlay and ensure smooth transitions."
Devishobha Chandramouli

Founder and Editor

Devishobha Chandramouli is the founder of Kidskintha, a global parenting and education collective. She is also the host of UNESCO's upcoming Special Kids Global Virtual Summit. She has written for HuffPost, LifeHack, Motherly, Thought Catalog, and more.

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