April 15, 2024

All technology has an expiration date. So what do you do when the software solution you painstakingly built, maintained, and sold over the years – and that your customers have gotten accustomed to – can’t keep up with the latest advancements?

Often, staying current in the software world can feel like running on a hamster wheel. Emerging technologies evolve quickly, making it challenging to keep up with new developments, trends, and best practices. The result? An endless accumulation of technical debt for you and your team to manage.

Replatforming your existing software to a new environment gives you the opportunity to modernize aging solutions, but there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Companies need to take a nuanced look at their long-term business goals to determine which path to digital transformation is best for them: building their own new solution or leveraging an Enterprise Applications Platform (EAP).

The case for building from scratch

Traditionally when software systems became obsolete, the go-to solution was to build something new in-house. Many software vendors have always built and maintained their entire ecosystem on their own, which can lead to the following benefits:

Custom fit: Designing and developing a new software system from scratch allows you to create a solution precisely tailored to your organization’s unique requirements, workflows, and business processes. This level of control ensures alignment with business objectives and customer expectations.

Planning ahead: Assuming you have the right resources and talent, along with alignment on the business roadmap, you can start developing solutions now to anticipate future needs and market trends.

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Clean slate: Starting from scratch gives your business the opportunity to address legacy issues, technical debt, and architectural limitations inherent in aging software systems.

While a completely DIY approach ensures you have the most control over the final product, it also requires significant time, resources, and expertise to pull off. You also run the risk of being caught in a vicious upgrade cycle where new developments take so long that you find yourself falling further and further behind implementing emerging technological advances.

Since the traditional path requires building and maintaining an entire ecosystem for all aspects of legacy, current, or planned software products, it might be the best option for companies that have the resources to dedicate significant time and talent to ongoing development.

However, starting from scratch for every technology implementation and functional improvement is often too big of an undertaking for most companies to justify, so they selectively incorporate bolt-on solutions to address specific challenges. Consider how most software vendors have incorporated AI into their offerings by leveraging the mature offerings already available in the market. Adding software extensions in this way can also result in:

Cost effectiveness: Bolt-on solutions provide targeted enhancements without the need for a complete overhaul, meaning you can pick and choose which functionalities your software needs without investing in an entirely new system.

Speed to market: Because the specific functions of bolt-on solutions have already been developed, they’re often quick to implement and begin delivering benefits.

Incremental upgrades: Adopting a phased approach to enhancements and implementing bolt-on solutions gradually over time can minimize disruption and accommodate budget constraints.

Specialized capabilities: Add-on software can address niche or specialized requirements that may not be feasible or practical to develop in-house, so you get access to best-of-breed capabilities without the need for extensive customization.

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Bolt-on solutions can act as a bandage to quickly and more cost effectively meet particular requirements, but any added functionality is only as good as its ability to integrate with existing systems. Before investing in any bolt-on solution, be sure it can seamlessly integrate with your current tech stack to facilitate data exchange and workflow automation while preserving existing investments.

Another major drawback to adding supplemental software is that as business needs evolve over time, your overlapping “bandage” solutions can actually lead to more complexity. Managing multiple bolt-on solutions alongside your core software requires additional maintenance efforts to keep up with updates, patches, and troubleshooting. Having multiple disjointed solutions can also lead to security vulnerabilities and inconsistencies in the end user experience. Beware of creating a technological Frankenstein’s Monster.

Leveraging an Enterprise Applications Platform

Enterprise applications platforms offer innovative, customizable, and value-driven software offerings without the need to develop everything in-house. By leveraging these platforms, you can also benefit from:

Day one head start: EAPs often feature pre-built applications and templates, enabling rapid deployment and speed to value compared to building from scratch. Take advantage of out-of-the-box core applications for finance, procurement, or manufacturing, and let your solution developers focus on industry- or customer-specific features.

Scalability and flexibility: These platforms are designed to scale and adapt to changing business needs, offering adaptability through customizable features, modules, and integrations. Best-in-class solutions even offer no-code development tooling, meaning your team can easily build and deploy new functionality without extensive coding knowledge.

Painless implementation: While you focus on what sets your software and your business apart from the competition, using a modern, cloud-built EAP frees your team from the technical and infrastructural battles that typically accompany a traditional software implementation.

Vendor support: Using an EAP instead of multiple bolt-on solutions means you can rely on a single vendor for support and expertise for ongoing maintenance, updates, and enhancements, reducing the burden on internal IT resources and ensuring continued system stability and performance.

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Future-proof growth: Technology will continue to evolve rapidly, but replatforming your solution on a best-in-class EAP means you can look forward to continuous upgrades that unlock new capabilities while preserving all customizations and extensions you’ve developed. In other words, an EAP allows you to deliver not only what your customers need today, but also the next must-have technologies.

Replatforming an aging software solution is a critical step for digital transformation. Deciding which approach to take ultimately comes down to an age-old dilemma in software: You want to have the control to customize and build a solution that will meet all your customers’ needs, but without having to dedicate endless internal resources to a vicious development and upgrade cycle.

Many companies choose to replatform with an EAP because it enables them to deliver innovative, customizable, and enterprise-grade software offerings without having to be fixated on the underlying technologies. By employing an EAP as the backbone of your software solution, your job is truly to serve your customer, and the EAP vendor takes care of the rest.

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