Modernization Readiness from 0 to 60 with Code Analysis and Prioritization

Ask us about modernizing your organization.

In this article, we’re exploring some preliminary steps to take before attempting a modernization project.

Applications and services are increasingly more disruptive. Customer needs and expectations are rising to meet these changes. To compete in these changing marketplaces, more traditional companies need to adapt. They need to become more agile, flexible, efficient, and scalable.

Modernizing business-critical legacy systems to meet rising customer demands is essential for any organization that wants to be competitive. It’s also the critical building block for digital transformation.

This article discusses how analyzing, plotting, and prioritizing legacy code can more quickly get your legacy systems ready for modernization.

Measuring Code Complexity and Technical Debt

The first step to modernizing a legacy application is to get a clear picture of your application. You can’t take off running if you’re hauling years worth of technical debt.

What is technical debt? Technical debt is the build up of development costs of additional work needed because a developer chose an easy solution instead of using a better or best practices development approach at the start. This technical debt accrues over the years—there’s no doubt that it lurks within your legacy applications.

Understanding the complexity of your code will help a digital transformation succeed; it will be easier to develop new digital services on a clean IT surface than trying to deal with the bulk of your legacy code all at once.

The quickest way to get a clear picture of your code is to perform a legacy code analysis. The right tool will provide visualizations for:


Process dependencies


UI navigation


Database tables, relationships, and triggers


User interaction and usage

These visualizations rapidly identify crucial business processes and their relative complexity, allowing stakeholders to quickly carve the project into manageable, individual modernization efforts.

An effective legacy code analysis tool will look for dead or unused code code, focusing on clusters of functionality. This allows application re-engineering to happen naturally; developers can easily see where code can be consolidated with low effort and high return.


Removing unused functionality can save up to 20% of a modernization effort.

With unused code gone, a use case analysis will add tracking tags to the remaining code and deploy it to a server to collect usage information. Like a traffic camera or a Google Analytics snippet, this tracking code will give us clear insight into who is going where inside the running program. As users walk through the application, the tracking tags fire, logging their activity for later analysis.

The use case data will reveal what the unused code analysis could not: it shows the features no one uses, and the ones everyone uses. This is a goldmine of data. Prioritization, change adoption, process efficiency, cost savings and performance improvement can all be derived from this information.

With both the code analysis and use case analysis complete, you’ll have a complete picture of the application and the effort it takes to modernize the valuable pieces.

Code Prioritization

With a clear picture of your code, dependencies, and functionalities, now you can begin plotting on a prioritization matrix.

So what is a code prioritization matrix? In short, it’s a simple graph that helps sort applications or business processes by order of value and importance. In this case, this prioritization matrix shows where business value relates to the effort of modernizing those applications or processes.

Re-Engineering Zone

High business value but low non-functional or operational performance applications fall within this quadrant. These applications or processes are suited for re-architecting, re-platforming, or integration with emerging technology solutions such as mobile and cloud platforms.

Retention Zone

Applications in this quadrant meet both the business and IT department needs, but may be subject to different opportunity. With little effort, this code can be easily modernized or transformed to accomplish new goals.

Re-Prioritization Zone

These are applications with higher than desired maintenance or operations costs, but are aligned with business value. They’re necessary to the business, but perhaps there are ways to make them more efficient.

Replace or Retire Zone

Applications that fall in this quadrant have lost significant business value, features, or technical quality. The goal here is to move any remaining useful features, rules, and data to another platform with higher functional and/or technical quality.
As you can see from the matrix, it’s easy to spot quick wins when the applications and processes have been plotted. You can easily see how to plan the segments of your modernization, starting with the quick wins that utilize the least amount of effort for the highest return.

Meet our team to see how we can transform the systems that matter most to your business.