New research reveals how federal agencies can unlock IT value and agility by remediating technical debt.
There is widespread consensus across the federal government to the need for IT modernization. However, overcoming often decades of underinvestment and the subsequent constraints of legacy systems requires new thinking on how we manage and remediate technical debt.
In making the case for IT modernization, federal executives too often fail to consider the full impact of technical debt. While many recognize the cost to upgrade legacy system, they fail to account for current inefficiencies, strategic liabilities, and lost opportunities to innovate, improve performance and realize economies of scale. Thus, the status quo continues to linger despite real threats to business continuity and real potential to transform.
New approaches can enable a more strategic understanding of technical debt, including assessing potential paths forward for optimal outcomes. Fueled by the increasing maturity of DevOps, agencies can pursue hybrid strategies that iteratively add new functionality while core business logic and data is decoupled, exposed via APIs and migrated to new platforms. These hybrid digital decoupling or continuous modernization strategies allow agencies to transform themselves at a pace that they require and can sustain.
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What’s blocking IT modernization? Technical debt
Drawing on the responses of 185 federal IT leaders, the Accenture Federal Digital Decoupling Survey serves to clarify and quantify these issues. Among the key findings:
- Legacy systems are putting agencies in danger. Fifty-eight percent revealed that their agency experienced between 2-3 major disruptions or outages over the past decade, with just 4 percent avoiding any discontinuities over this time period.
- Technical debt and resulting IT discontinuities impede innovation and agility. Eighty-three percent indicated that technical debt severely limits their ability to be innovative and 79 percent report that it inhibits their responsiveness to change.
- Agencies need to implement decoupling strategies to unlock the value inside legacy IT. Eighty-seven percent responded that they want the best of new IT and legacy by navigating to new technologies in a way that secures the best of both worlds, but only 36 percent said they have a clear strategy.