The Incremental
Aproach to COBOL

COBOL modernizations efforts are notorious for failing to meet goals, stay on budget and complete on time. These historically large and outsourced projects have cost hundreds of millions of dollars, disrupted businesses, and ended careers.

If those failed big-bang projects have taught us anything, it’s that COBOL modernization projects are expensive and risky. But they don’t have to be.

If COBOL application modernization is thought of as a journey, beginning with small steps in the right direction, progress can be achieved with less risk, fewer dollars, and projects with attainable benefits and value. An incremental modernization approach makes sense.

What is incremental

Incremental modernization offers organizations the opportunity to make changes to their critical mainframe COBOL applications without massive scope and the potential of negative disruption. Incremental modernization leads to a higher chance of achieving COBOL transformation and digital transformation progress.

We define incremental modernization as:
The effort to modernize COBOL applications
by executing a series of concisely defined
and controlled projects of increasing
complexity and scope.

Benefits of Incremental

Concise Scope – Modernization sources and outcomes are well defined

Clear Success Definition – Success is easier to defined when scope is concise

Shorter Project Duration – Projects are completed in months(not years)

Reduced Risk – The “Blast Radius”  of change is confined

Smaller Budgets – It costs less per project to take an incremental approach


The incrementation modernization approach has many benefits. Those benefits include smaller projects scope, which helps focus efforts, reduces project duration and investment. Benefits also include reduced risk and increased probability of success.

Incremental modernization destroys many of the myths associated with COBOL application modernization. Specifically, an incremental approach eliminates the myths that the application must be modernized in its entirety and that a total rewrite (the greenfield approach) is the only path forward. The approach also eliminates the fear that a modernization project will take years and have a massive budget.

Eliminate the Need
for Massive
Budgets & Years of
Waiting to Benefit
From Results

CloudFrame believes incremental modernization should have a pragmatic and straightforward plan.

• Develop your modernization strategy
• Choose your tactics
• Select the products and partners
• Begin small and precise, achieve success, gain momentum
• Fail fast and small, learn, and apply your knowledge
• You increase your scope, impact, and complexity
• Accelerate success

Begin your incremental modernization journey by developing a pilot project scenario and initial business case. This will help you think through the approach and establish priorities.

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