Legacy System Modernization Case Study of a Retail ISV
The client is one of the leading solution providers to the retail industry. They operate across multiple platforms and markets, focusing on creating value for customers through domain-focused solutions. Their offerings span areas of POS technology, loyalty, inventory management and data analytics. For some time before the implementation, the client had been strategizing on global expansion, but felt limited by a string of challenges raised by legacy systems that could not match up to expectations.
The existing system had many challenges to be overcome. The use of dated technology meant that operation and maintenance of the legacy system was proving to be a nightmare for the client. Adding new features into the system was next to impossible, and nimble new players with exciting features were threatening to poach on existing customers. The user interface of the existing system had a last-century feel. Redesigning the UI was imperative if the product was to have a contemporary look and feel.
Although the Store Management functionality worked, there were a lot of improvements in user experience that customers demanded. For instance, it was not possible in the existing system to compare the costs for a product with other existing suppliers. The system did not support concurrent users either, and this severely restricted parallel operations. The users had to be in-store or in front of the PC to carry out the operations. This was becoming too archaic for a highly web-enabled generation.
Reports wore an old-world look with text being the only medium. Sales reports with stacks of hashes in bar charts, customised for dot-matrix printers, were the norm. Any level of customization in the system required extensive involvement from the support team, adding to cost and time overruns for the store. This too was becoming a big turn-off for the tech-savvy new store owners.
A combination of the above reasons, and a very region-specific product, meant that any ambitions of taking this product to a world market was totally off the radar. As the existing customer started getting restless and competitors got hot on heels, the client knew that something had to be done.
Experion was brought in at this stage. We started work on re-platforming the existing legacy system onto a cloud platform. The latest methods and tools were employed to derive the power of modern software engineering. With next to zero documentation available for the existing system, the first major challenge for the team was to distill all the knowledge of nearly two decades into requirements. This involved interviewing the support staff, working with the existing system and perusing countless existing bug reports. The goal was clear. To design a solution that would not lose out on a single existing functionality, while ushering in a new world of finesse and user experience.
Agile methodologies were employed, which saw extensive participation from the client’s side. Failing early and failing fast, the team progressed through multiple iterations to come up with the ideal solution. A cloud-ready solution was designed, with custom built tools to communicate with the in-store components like POS, Scales and PDEs. Queues were used for asynchronous parallel communications.
Angular.js was used for the client with Microsoft .net and SQL Server under the hood. Stimulsoft was used for reports as well as for generation of labels and talkers. Signal-R was used for real-time notifications to the users on the progress of their tasks as well as for concurrency checks.
Some of the key features of the new solution are,
- New-age technology with browser-based UX
- Cloud-ready, mobile-friendly design
- Customizable menu, column layouts, filters and favorites
- Support for intuitive and interactive design of labels and talkers
- Support for scales from multiple vendors
- Customizable properties for key entities such as item, family, supplier, user & offer
- Real-time,customizable notifications for individual users on task progress
- Full support for parallel operations with multiple users across multiple client systems
The implementation had a positive impact on the client’s business operations. It led to a 30% increase in customer response times. The solution was transformed to a Web and mobile-ready solution for 24/7 customer accessibility. Cloud readiness had been brought in, drastically bringing down infrastructure costs.
The savings made on legacy maintenance costs helped the client invest in more important IT avenues such as digitization. The savings were effected, as the new system required considerably less number of resources to maintain. Moreover, planning on a global expansion of the regional business, now became an open path or strategy to explore with the freedom gained from a state-of-the-art software system.