HMRC_How_To_Prepare_Lead
Andy Canning
Andy Canning Technology Principal

Our Thinking Fri 19th February, 2021

How to prepare for a major application re-homing project.

If you’re preparing for a major migration project, you’re at a crucial juncture.

Whether you know it or not, you’re currently standing on a precipice; the choices you make today will determine how things play out in the future.

With the right preparation, you can ensure the project is a success. With an inadequate or ill-conceived approach… well, there may be some uncomfortable home truths to face in the wake of your re-homing.

Regardless of your sector—whether financial, government, retail, communications, or anything else—here are four steps to help you prepare for a major application re-homing project.

1. Determine whether you will re-home the applications to an existing Digital Platform, or something that is built for purpose.

A Digital Platform is a bespoke Platform as a Service (PAAS) product, made up of people, processes and tools. It enables teams to rapidly develop, iterate, and operate Digital Services at scale.

If you intend to migrate legacy applications away from physical infrastructure, you need to consider where they’re heading.

Your organisation might have a relatively new platform. In many cases, it seems self-evident that the newly migrated applications should be housed on the newly built platform. People tend to think: ‘We’ve built this new platform, so we should house the migrated applications there; that’s exactly why we built it, right?’

In reality, it’s not that simple.

In some cases, there may be issues in moving the legacy applications onto the new platform. This can create new work—or unwanted project interruptions—for both the development team managing the new platform, and the team overseeing the migration project.

Ask yourself: Are we migrating these applications to the best possible—and most appropriate—location? Or are we being impacted by a form of recency bias?

Could we purpose-build a platform that is more suited to the specific objectives we need to achieve as part of this migration?

Learn more with the Equal Experts Digital Platform Playbook.

2. Think about how you can map development teams to better support and reflect your organisational structure.

If you’re migrating legacy applications from physical infrastructure to the cloud, there’s a good chance you’ll go through a concurrent process to change the way development teams support those applications in the future.

One approach to consider is ‘you build it, you run it’. This approach to development and support is significantly more efficient than a traditional waterfall or handoff-based team structure.

For example, when we migrated 55 legacy applications to the cloud with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs—a non-ministerial UK Government Department involved in the collection of taxes and other regulatory regimes—we rearranged team structure to focus on services, business units and applications, rather than development practices.

Originally, the teams were structured like this:

  • Development Teams
  • Regression Testing Teams
  • Deployment Teams
  • Post-production Support Teams

After re-arrangement, teams consisted of:

  • One team focusing on all self-assessment tax applications
  •  One team responsible for VAT and business tax applications
  •  One team managing all applications supporting personal tax, aside from those required in self-assessment
  • One team overseeing all other applications, including international tax, health applications, and other comparatively lower usage applications

This approach is beneficial for scaling the migration once the project is in full-effect, and—with the right processes in place—ultimately puts your teams in a better position to monitor, update and maintain the applications moving forward.

3. Consider the effort of the migration project when calculating ‘cost vs. benefit’.

Always remember to factor for the resource associated with the migration project itself. There is a cost associated with re-homing the applications—regardless of whether you choose to re-architect or engage in a simple lift and shift—and you should factor in that cost in any benefits case you develop.

It can be costly to assume that migrating applications away from physical infrastructure automatically creates a reduction in infrastructure cost. And if you don’t factor in the effort involved in the migration process itself, or strategically prioritise your effort throughout the project, it could be even more costly.

4. Bring all major stakeholders along for the journey, from day one.

Of course, whether you re-home to an existing environment or a bespoke Digital Platform and regardless of the approach you take to the migration, you need buy-in and support from Operations, Development and Senior Executive teams throughout the organisation.
A successful major migration project typically impacts multiple teams within an organisation. The more people who have context of the project, knowledge of its objectives, and an understanding of the challenges or constraints you’re navigating, the better.

Contact us!

Of course, there’s much more involved in a successful migration project. For more information, take a look at our HMRC case study. If you’d like us to share our experience with you, please get in touch in the form below.