vFunction Releases First Survey Uncovering What Architects Want the C-Suite to Understand About Why App Modernization Projects Fail

June 21, 2022

Architects to C-Suite: Budget, Resources, and Intelligent Tools Required

Palo Alto, CA – June 21, 2022 — vFunction, the first and only platform to apply AI to application modernization, has released the results of its first app modernization research report, entitled: “Executives and App Modernization: What Architects Want You to Know About Why App Modernization Projects Fail.” The survey, executed with Wakefield Research, reveals the differences in goals, challenges and reasons for failure between business leaders and architects as they address today’s app modernization projects. For many enterprises, the debilitating costs from accumulated technical debt in large and complex applications have stymied innovation efforts, yet architects realize that in order to restore engineering velocity, the true cost of technical debt must be understood and a business case must be built to garner C-Suite buy-in. 

The study affirms modernization is a current and active project, with 92% of respondents plan to or are currently modernizing their apps – leaving only 8% that are not planning to modernize – and reveals that modernization projects have proven complex, expensive and risky. The survey has found that 4 in 5 software and architecture leaders say they’ve had an app modernization effort fail along the way, with 74% of respondents saying that the typical application modernization effort costs $1M+, averaging nearly $1.5M. Beyond the steep financial cost is time. Nearly 3 in 5 (58%) software and architecture leaders say the typical app modernization effort takes over a year, averaging 16 months per project — more than a quarter (27%) say it takes two years or more. 

Internal organizational struggles and the misalignment between business and technology teams are putting app modernization efforts in peril before they even start, to the point that 97% predict someone in their organization would push back on a proposed project. 43% of those who have seen app modernization failures blame expectations not being set correctly, while another 37% blame failure on required organizational structure changes. Yet in looking at architects alone, they note a “lack of intelligent tools” as the number one reason for failure. The struggle with ineffective tools and the skills and training needed to modernize is a common theme amongst architect respondents, as “too complex,” “inadequate skills or training” and “failure to accurately set expectations” all tied for the 2nd most common reason for failure. 

Other key findings from the report include: 

  • 50% of executives and architects agree that securing the budget and resources is the most difficult step in a modernization project.
  • Executives reveal their strategic struggle with “knowing what to modernize” ranking second and their leadership struggles by ranking “training and preparing the staff for modernization” as third.
  • Architects reveal their need to support, ranking “ building the business case” as the second most difficult step, tied with “training and preparing the staff for modernization.” 
  • 50% of software and architecture leaders say that prioritization of management was missing and stopped their application modernization process at some point. 

“Given the expense and length of these projects, it’s critical to understand why they are successful and why they fail; there is a lot on the line. The research reveals cost, risk, and complexity are all agreed-upon obstacles to modernization projects and “lift and shift” is no longer considered a successful modernization outcome,” said Moti Rafalin, CEO, vFunction. “Architects are keenly aware of the business benefits of these projects for the company and need the C-suite to understand why app modernization projects fail. They need the C-suite to align and train the team for success and help build the business case required to secure the budget and resources needed. Most importantly, architects need intelligent tools for the job.” 

To access the full version, download the “Executives and App Modernization: What Architects Want You to Know About Why App Modernization Projects Fail” report here.


The vFunction Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 250 US Software Developers and Architects, with a minimum seniority of Director, at companies of 5,000 or more employees that have been in business for at least 15 years, currently maintaining Java applications, between May 2nd and May 11th, 2022, using an email invitation and an online survey. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 6.2%.

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