Moving from legacy software to a future-proof web app.
Legacy software is an obstacle for growth and innovation. Many enterprises face this challenge at some point but are hesitant to move towards a new solution. A tried and tested legacy system that has gotten deeply embedded over the years, has a proven reliability. It also feels very familiar for the users. But in the end, for companies looking to innovate, scale or venture into new directions, legacy software will be a source of friction.
- The challenge: Replacing the complete legacy ERP functionality with a platform that serves as the new foundation for future innovation.
- The solution: Building a cloud-based web application and managing the transition in a frictionless manner for the business.
- Our approach: Finding a steady cadence working with FRAKO to consistently deliver functionality
- The result: A new master platform that can host new integrations quickly and easily while cutting maintenance costs at the same time.
The challenge at FRAKO:
Over the last 40+ years Frako has grown from a dealer in kitchens to a full-scale manufacturer of tailored kitchens and interiors and caters both to B2C and B2B segments. Along the way, a custom-built ERP system was brought to life by one of the business partners.
For 20 years, he developed, updated and refined this system to match Frako’s evolving requirements. From putting together a kitchen for customers during sales to calculating the required articles and sending work orders to production, it’s all in there. But despite the functionality provided, FRAKO was facing three major downsides
- Users were operating around technical details and steps that just weren’t relevant anymore. It added complexity to their daily workflow.
- There was a serious dependency. Not only on the founder's knowledge of the code base, but on technologies which are no longer updated or supported.
- There is little to no room for innovation and growth. And with FRAKO’s ambitions towards business development, this outdated system just wouldn’t cut it
Finding the right digital partner
It was time for change. But even if the numbers in the business case add up and justify the financial investment, the transition to a new software package requires experience, close communication and (quite) some bravery. FRAKO had already attempted this modernisation twice before with other partners, but without results. So after a couple of meetings it was clear: we were going to make the third time the charm!
Replacing legacy software with a modern, flexible and scalable solution is not an easy task. Especially when it contains such specific and critical business logic. There’s the fear of disrupting daily operations, loss of data or additional, unforeseen costs.
We started by taking a step back and creating a strategic roadmap with small, realistic milestones. This gave FRAKO visibility, control and engagement. And for us, it was a way to set our project up for success by managing complexity and staying flexible.
We defined a solution that would radically improve almost every aspect of their business: a cloud-based web app leveraging the latest technology and UX best practices.
Replacing ‘The Master’ (which is how the legacy came to be known) in a frictionless manner for the entire organisation was a top priority. Right off the bat we involved FRAKO in our agile way of working and together we found a steady cadence:
Analysing a subset of legacy code
Defining scope for the next delivery
Building, integrating and deploying
Providing extensive support during go-live
By breaking this part of the project down into smaller chunks of functionality, we maintain control over the complexity. It also ensures us that with every release we have an overseeable amount of features to support during go-live. Every increment needs to be integrated, working and stable before moving on.
A tech puzzle
The development team had their work cut out for them, cracking tightly coupled, and sometimes even exotic, legacy code (in VB.NET) and translating it to lightweight components using our go-to JS-frameworks. Next to that, we’re moving the FRAKO infrastructure from an on-premise setup to a cloud-based architecture.
While working on this project, our team’s expertise with the internal layout of FRAKO continues to grow. All of the data we were encountering was also made very accessible by our new solution. As a result, a new technological foundation emerged and more doors towards innovation are opening. It creates momentum and two additional opportunities were identified because of that:
- Turning the existing B2B product catalogue into an interactive, online showroom with a link to their order system.
- Developing a picking & order management tool that automates most of the process.
By renewing the foundations of the software, Frako is ready to move quickly in an industry that changes faster than ever. Maintenance costs are down and building new features has never been easier. Still, the greatest added value might be that the system is ready to integrate with other systems, such as 3D drawing software, or accounting packages. Frako might just have entered the next chapter of their business story.