Trust, key to success in legacy transformation projects

June 4, 2019

The human factor
Trust, key to success in legacy transformation projects!

Trust is hard to gain but easy to lose.
Trust is the key concept that makes or breaks a legacy transformation process. It is especially challenging in times of change. Most people don’t like the uncertainty that comes with change, it makes them feel insecure. With this insecurity often comes suspicion. When trust vanishes, ‘islands’ are formed, and cooperation becomes very hard to establish.

Respect the past
Transforming a legacy system is an incredibly challenging endeavor. It effects the heart and soul of organizations and is often aimed at replacing ‘home-grown’ applications that took many years of dedication, hard work and manual labor to develop, enhance and maintain.

It is completely understandable that there’s resistance at first. Many objections will arise, like: “Why change something that has functioned well for so long?” “I have been with this company for over 25 years, this legacy system is all I know, what’s going to happen with me?” or “Our current system is 100% tailor made, there’s no way we are going to get the same functionalities in a new environment.” And so on…

In order to get everyone on board for change, it is very important to respect the past, honor the work that has been done and the results that work has accomplished.

Overall results
First and foremost, all team members must have a clear eye on the overall result that has to be achieved. Everyone must know their own task and responsibilities well, but above all, they must embrace the common goal of this transformation process.

Often these types of projects involve several teams, external parties and different (geographic) locations which makes it even harder.

The teams involved operate like a network. Everyone within that network has to know the context of collaboration, gap’s in the network will hinder the project.
Vital relationships between people must be established, and for that, Trust and Communication are key.

Trust + Communication = Cooperation
Trust does not happen automatically, it is human work and often people adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach and of course, it’s also about emotion, a subject that is difficult to address.

If people know each other, have already worked together and have positive experiences with each other, the development of trust goes faster than if people have never seen each other. Cooperation fails completely if trust is lacking. The confidence disappears and communication becomes difficult.

Trust as an accelerator
If people trust each other, they can easily overcome problems and, as a team, become stronger. All teams move more easily and in small steps towards an end goal. Problems are seen as common challenges. An agile workstyle can be adopted.

In order to get there, communication is key. Everyone involved múst know the status of the project.
Even if it does not concern them yet, it has to be a key priority to keep people involved.

Solution over Problem
What we have noticed in our 35 years in the legacy transformation business, is that the better the communication between teams and partners, the higher the trust and the more pleasant the cooperation.

Here, the emphasize is always on achieving the goal. The mindset is on creating solutions and not on pinpointing the problems. Everyone realizes that in large projects mistakes are made, things go wrong.
In those cases, it is crucial to work as one team that does whatever it takes to back-on-track again, with great success as a result!