If you are a business minded IT leader, you are probably wondering how you can best assemble and lead a team with new technology knowledge, using agile DevOps processes and modern technologies and platforms such as cloud, while also leveraging the best of legacy knowledge related to areas like COBOL.
The aging workforce dynamic associated with legacy technologies is creating a daunting skills gap. While most of today’s airwaves are crowded with articles about the dearth of skills for cloud, security and other newer technologies, there is also a massive issue with loss of legacy IT talent. The group of legacy talent is characterized by CIOs who have been in their jobs for 20-30 years (and sometimes much longer), were trained on COBOL and mainframe technologies, and work inside large global organizations. In many cases these types of organizations don’t have a single person other than themselves who can run their legacy systems. Many of their mission critical workloads still run on these legacy platforms.
Wondering what the characteristics are of high performing teams who leverage the best of both camps? Read on for some best practice tips:
First, take advantage of vendor/partner training and certification. There are many different opportunities out there, so make sure you make it a part of your employee’s performance review and check point so that it gets done regularly.
Second, implement cross functional training. Find ways to get old school knowledge and new skill knowledge cross pollinating. The majority of your staff who hold the “legacy” positions typically also have a lot of business knowledge from the many years they’ve maintained the application. It’s therefore a powerful mix to have legacy staff members swap over and apply their business knowledge to new technologies alongside younger staff who understand the newer technologies. The result: Your legacy employees gain insight into newer technologies and your less seasoned employees start to fast track their understanding of the business from experienced experts.
Establish mentoring and job sharing programs. Another way to make the knowledge transfer “real” is to formalize job sharing and mentorship. Many legacy CIOs who are on the verge of retirement are also concerned about knowledge transfer, but their company or organization isn’t set up to promote mentorship or job sharing in any formalized way. Work with HR and your operations leaders to establish a mentor program and job sharing program sooner rather than later in an effort to get ahead of concerns about specialized knowledge leaving the building. Job sharing could naturally be established between mainframe and mid-tier technologies, for example.
Last, seek out an outside managed service provider with both legacy and new technology expertise.
A post-modernization application management service can help ensure your modernization effort is properly set up for long-term success. The service should include 24×7 monitoring and support of both the application and infrastructure, with a focus on verifying availability and performance of the business logic and processes. This service should do the following:
– Monitor application health and connections to related applications.
– Continuously collect health and performance metrics from application components, and organize them in real-time.
– Present an animated display of the application’s current state and enable customer IT teams to focus on extending business value of modernized applications.
– Be available via on-premise, virtual or cloud-based infrastructure, increasing service levels.
– Deliver a predictable OPEX support model.
To set your business up for success, look to a strategy that leverages and protects your past IT investments, while ensuring you don’t lose valuable skills and expertise as people move out of their current roles. It’s important to think beyond that though. Find ways to encourage new IT talent to learn and grow from the more seasoned professionals in order to put in place the strongest team you can. This approach will ensure that you grow and thrive no matter what industry you are in.