Breakups are hard, even when it’s just breaking up with a technology that you’ve come to be comfortable with. Though it isn’t the same as a “traditional” relationship, trying to walk away from an ineffective legacy system can be just as hard as walking away from a bad partner.
So the story goes: Your time together has come and gone. You know that you deserve better. All of your research and instincts are telling you to let it go, but part of you wants to hold on like that lone sock in your drawer you swear has a mate somewhere.
It’s time to break it off. The only problem is not everyone in the organization sees the same signs you’ve been seeing for years. And their hesitancy might make you pause.
Is migration the right decision?
Don’t fear. We’ve put together these 5 questions that can reveal the signs that it’s time to say goodbye or give that sock will a few more washes:
- How expensive is the system to maintain?
- How secure is the system?
- How compatible is the system with other technologies?
- How easy is the system to use?
- How useful is the system?
Let’s jump into each of these 5 questions.
5 Questions to Determine if it’s Time to Move Off Your Legacy Systems
1. How expensive is the system to maintain?
Older systems will only grow more expensive to maintain as the timeline from its inception increases. According CIO’s article, What not upgrading enterprise software could cost you, every five years, companies will spend more money on maintenance than they did on the actual software.
According to a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GOA), the US federal government allocated a budget of over $90 billion for IT in 2019. About 80% of this amount was dedicated to operating and maintaining existing critical software components and legacy code, including costly older systems.
Is the cost of upgrading and using a scalable system greater than staying on the current legacy system?
2. How secure is your existing system?
Many legacy systems are no longer supported by their vendors. This means that when a problem arises, the original provider won’t be able to step in.
Worse, it means that if there’s ever a cyber attack, there’s no line of defense to protect stored data or easy fix due to the system’s large and inflexible nature. Even if a fix is possible, the patch will be very limited since it is difficult for developers to generate a legacy fix.
Is the trade-off of being confident in a system that is supported greater than short-term benefits of staying on the current system?
3. Is the system compatible with new or other technologies?
Because of legacy systems’ inflexible and rigid architecture, businesses will often struggle with:
- Siloed Data. The data within legacy systems does not easily connect to other technologies. So if a business wants to see all the data they have available, the legacy system will present a hurdle. Lack of unified data also prevents the ability to effectively personalize.
- Disparate and disjointed tech stack. Let’s say a business wants to add a new chatbot application. However, since the legacy system is so inflexible, that business is going to have a very difficult time trying to add that new chatbot on.
- Wasted IT resources. Because of the first two consequences, IT teams need to spend most of their time and resources trying to extract data from different systems and make the systems work together.
Is the trade-off of being able to create a unified technology environment greater than the immediate convenience of staying on the current legacy system?
4. How easy is the system to use?
Due to age and lack of new releases, many legacy systems are often difficult to work in. Getting employees to use legacy software is tedious and time-consuming and, more importantly, negatively affects employee experience since they are spending more time trying to figure out how to use these systems.
Is the time that employees waste struggling to use the legacy system worth the time saved in training by staying on the current legacy system?
5. How useful is the system to your business?
The final question is, “How useful is this system to our business”?
This means asking yourself some hard questions, such as:
- What does the business use the system for?
- How often is it used?
- What was its original purpose and does it serve that purpose?
- Has the original goal changed?
If it isn’t useful or meeting the original purpose, then is it still worth using?
If It Ain’t Broke….
It’s not easy to choose something new over something that “still kind of works.” But there comes a point where even if it's not broken, these long-standing technologies no longer provide the value they once did to your business.
Change is hard, but trying to survive in the fast-moving digital world with these older, outdated systems will prove to be even harder.
It’s time to toss that single sock and buy a few new pairs.