From record unemployment to combating fraud, state and local governments have much to gain from updating their legacy systems. According to Gartner, government IT leaders and CIOs face conflicting expectations: keep legacy environments running smoothly, while driving modernization. Presently, government CIOs face tough organizational challenges to reach consensus on a business case for legacy modernization and how big the effort should be.

In reality, 70%-80% of government IT budget is typically allocated to ongoing support and maintenance of legacy systems. Failing to invest in legacy modernization leads to ravenous technical debt that consumes budget spend. That’s why optimizing the mainframe is a top priority. This is where continuous modernization can help.

After all, governments are innately risk adverse and resistant to change. Most are unwilling or can’t commit to large-scale legacy modernization projects. However, continuous modernization provides a way to slowly steer the ship in the right direction.

Yes, There Is Interest in Modernization

Despite these obstacles, a recent Gartner survey shows that government CIOs want to modernize legacy IT systems. In fact, the desire to modernize is unrelated to reducing complexity and cost. The actual top drivers include:

  • Increase the level of operational efficiency (31%)
  • Support innovation in the business (25%)
  • Improve services for customers and/or business partners (24%)
  • Support digital transformation of our company (23%)

By and large, government CIOs understand the need to present modernization in a business framework. The next step is framing modernization as a continuous effort versus one massive project that’s subject to risk and rising cost.

How Government CIOs Can Speak the Right Language

Continuous modernization is an iterative approach to detect, prioritize, and eliminate digital business obstacles, including legacy applications. In fact, it positions the mainframe as an asset.

Even so, there’s often little understanding or sympathy from leadership when talking about legacy systems. Government CIOs will need to adapt their modernization message.

According to Gartner, here are the 5 steps for making government legacy modernization a success:

  1. Commit business leaders and leadership to understand and act on the imperative to change
  2. Formally measure the organization’s risk appetite and capacity to change
  3. Evaluate your technical options for change
  4. Convince stakeholders of the benefits of derisking the program by adopting agile as the methodology for change
  5. Manage expectations by close monitoring and the setting of some hard flags around expenditure and anticipated progress

Through continuous modernization, government CIOs can modernize for today and get on the right path for tomorrow.

Continuous Modernization in Action

In essence, continuous modernization is the answer. In terms of the mainframe, the practical application of continuous modernization is the partial or phased migration approach. Evaluate which applications can be easily migrated off the mainframe to free up space and MIPS cost. Finally, leave only the most vital applications on your mainframe that are too risky to move.

VIDEO: Why Keep Critical Applications on the Mainframe

By keeping the mainframe intact and integrating with modern applications, governments take advantage of the stability and strength of the mainframe and the flexibility and agility of new applications. It’s already working for the New Jersey Motor Vehicle agency.

In fact, framing legacy modernization as a continuous process and driver for business value is the best strategy for government CIOs to get what they need, to ensure their operating models and platforms remain relevant and thrive.

Want to know what motivates other companies to keep their mainframes? Click here to read more.