As the saying goes, if it isn't broken, don't fix it. This philosophy has long been applied to legacy systems in various businesses and organisations. In an era of constantly evolving technology, many companies still rely on ageing systems, primarily because they continue to perform their intended functions. But when does the cost of maintaining these systems become too high, and how can you tell when it's time to let go?
In this article, we'll take a closer look at the actual cost of maintaining legacy systems, exploring the hidden expenses and potential pitfalls. We'll also offer some practical advice for businesses grappling with the decision to keep their legacy systems or move on to modern alternatives.
The cost of maintaining legacy systems
#1 Direct Maintenance Costs
The most obvious cost of maintaining legacy systems is the direct expense of keeping them running. This can include hardware and software maintenance, support fees, and the cost of procuring increasingly scarce spare parts. It's not uncommon for businesses to spend a significant portion of their IT budget on these direct costs, leaving less room for investment in newer, more efficient technology.
#2 Security Risks
Legacy systems are often more vulnerable to security threats, as they may lack the latest security features and patches. This can leave your business exposed to cyberattacks, which can be costly to mitigate and recover from. Furthermore, the reputational damage from a security breach can be disastrous, particularly in today's digital age, where information travels fast.
#3 Decreased Productivity
Older systems typically have slower processing speeds and more frequent downtime, which can lead to decreased productivity among employees. This can result in a snowball effect, as staff are forced to find workarounds or simply wait for systems to come back online. Over time, this can translate into significant costs in lost productivity and employee frustration.
#4 Lack of Integration
Legacy systems often struggle to integrate with modern software and applications, limiting your ability to take advantage of new technologies and services. This can leave your business at a competitive disadvantage, as other companies harness the latest tools to streamline operations and improve efficiency.
#5 Talent Drain
As technology advances, finding tech talent with the skills and knowledge to maintain and support legacy systems becomes increasingly difficult. This can result in a talent drain, with your business struggling to attract and retain the right people to keep these systems running. In the long run, this can be a significant hidden cost, particularly considering the time and resources spent on recruitment and training.
So, what can you do about your legacy technology?
Assess the Situation
The first step in addressing the cost of maintaining legacy systems is thoroughly assessing your current technology infrastructure. Identify the systems that no longer serve your business effectively and pinpoint the areas where improvements can be made. This will provide you with a clear picture of the true cost of your legacy systems and help you make informed decisions moving forward.
Find the right legacy system modernisation approach
If your assessment highlights a need for change, it's time to explore the modernisation options available to your business. This could involve upgrading your existing systems or replacing them entirely with newer, more efficient alternatives. Investing in modern technology can offer a range of benefits, including improved productivity, enhanced security and streamlined integration with other systems.
Develop a migration strategy
Once you've decided to modernise, it's crucial to develop a detailed migration strategy. This should include a transition timeline, a clear data migration plan, and a thorough understanding of the potential risks and challenges involved. By taking the time to plan and prepare, you can ensure a smooth and successful migration process.
Prioritise Employee Training
As you modernise your systems, it's essential to prioritise employee training and support. Ensuring your staff are comfortable with and understand how to use the new technology effectively can be key to a successful transition. This can also minimise any potential disruption to productivity during the migration process.
Monitor and Review
It's essential to regularly monitor and review the performance of your new systems, as well as the overall impact on your business. This can help you identify any areas for improvement and confirm that your modernisation efforts are delivering the desired results. By staying vigilant and proactive, you can continue to optimise your IT infrastructure and maximise the benefits of your investment.
Seek Expert Advice
Navigating the complexities of legacy system maintenance and modernisation can be daunting, particularly for businesses without extensive in-house tech expertise. In such cases, seeking the advice of experienced professionals can be invaluable. Partnering with legacy modernisation experts like Calls9 will help ensure that your modernisation efforts are successful and cost-effective.
How we can help
Our unique Team-as-a-Service approach builds a team of digital experts around your needs and budget. Acting as a stand-alone team or an extension of yours, we partner to modernise your legacy technology at speed and within budget:
- Legacy systems audit: We can help you assess the state of your legacy technology to uncover efficiency problems, understand how you manage your data, reveal security vulnerabilities and identify opportunities to lower costs. We will then help you choose the right modernisation approach and create a legacy system modernisation strategy built around your needs.
- Legacy systems integrations: We can help you integrate your legacy systems with your ERP, CRM and other cloud applications. We connect your data from your on-premises system to the cloud enabling you to increase performance, access buried data and eliminate financial inefficiencies.
- Custom front-end experiences for legacy systems: In many cases, the back-end of the legacy technology works fine, but the interface is outdated and becomes hard to use. We can create a new interface for your legacy component, making it easily accessible to other software components via an API. This does not change the code of your legacy technology, allowing you to leverage the existing application features and extend its value.
- Re-platforming legacy systems: We can take your legacy system's components to a new platform with similar characteristics and features. We make minimal code changes to adapt to the new platform without fundamentally changing the structure or the system's features and function. By re-platforming to new software, you take advantage of reduced infrastructure costs, and better functionality with minimal effort, continuing to receive value from your legacy investment.
- Updating, maintaining and supporting legacy systems: We can help you update and improve the configuration of the legacy technology to solve technical problems. We can then maintain the updated and more efficient solution at a lower cost allowing you to avoid system failures, security breaches and maintenance cost escalations.
Maintaining legacy systems can be expensive, particularly when considering hidden expenses and potential pitfalls. However, by proactively assessing, modernising and managing your infrastructure, you can make informed decisions that benefit your business long-term. While the process of modernisation can be complex and challenging, the benefits of investing in up-to-date technology can far outweigh the costs. Improved security, increased productivity, and better integration with modern applications are just some advantages that can help your business stay competitive in today's fast-paced digital landscape.
Don't let the cost of maintaining legacy systems hold your business back. Reach out to discuss your situation, and together, we will find and implement the right modernisation approach for your needs and budget.