What are legacy systems, and why are they still used?

What are legacy systems, and why are they still used?

We use technology to make our work better, faster, and easier. If this is not the case, then you should question its use. In other words, technology should work for us, not the other way around. When systems and processes consume our time and energy and don't provide any value, they are called legacy and stop your business from achieving success. 

What exactly is a legacy system? 

A legacy system refers to old or outdated computer systems, processes  programming languages or software applications that are still used instead of modern, upgraded versions. 

A legacy system can be defined by age, purpose, relevance and life-cycle stage. For example, you might be using a 10-year-old system or process that doesn't integrate with modern tools, doesn't receive updates from the vendor and is slow or hard to use. A legacy system might also be a more modern technology or process that is no longer fit for purpose and is irrelevant to your business needs. 

Are you working with a legacy system?

To help you understand if you are working with a legacy system, please answer the questions below:

  1. Do you spend too much money on system maintenance?
  2. Is it cost-prohibitive to upgrade?
  3. Does it match and fulfil your team’s and customer needs and expectations? 
  4. Do your systems hurt employee productivity?
  5. Is it quick and easy to use your system? 
  6. Is it easy to access and use data stored in your systems?
  7. Can your systems be easily integrated with modern software and tools?
  8. Does your technology empower you to achieve your business goals?
  9. Can you get support and documentation from the vendors?

If your answer is "No" to one or more questions, you are using a legacy system. 

Now, another question is, if legacy systems are so problematic, why don't businesses do something about it? 

Why are legacy systems still used? 

Technology changes faster than businesses, and systems can become obsolete before an organisation is ready to modernise or retire them. Usually, businesses still use their legacy systems because:

  • They still satisfy a particular business need. 
  • The business hasn't got a return on its technology investment yet. 
  • Replacing legacy systems involves a significant investment of money, time and people, and businesses may lack the resources. 
  • Businesses don't have the internal technical capability to modernise their legacy systems. 
  • The off-the-shelf products available in the market do not fulfil all business requirements, and it's hard and expensive to customise them. 
  • They can't find the right partners to help them modernise their legacy systems.

All of the above are valid reasons for using outdated technology, but businesses should also consider the risks and issues of relying on them. The costs and time spent on hard-to-use systems are excruciating, and they don't offer any significant benefits. There is always the risk of security breaches, data silos between different systems and incompatibility with new tools.

Our team has successfully modernised, integrated, and migrated several legacy systems during the past ten years. And, we understand that it's a lot to take in. Below are some ways we can help you modernise your systems, but you can also reach out to us for a free consultation call. We will discuss your situation and develop a plan to help you move forward. 

Download your free Legacy Systems Survival Guide

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How we can help

  • 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: We find that in many cases, the back-end of the legacy technology works fine, but the interface is very outdated and becomes hard-to-use. We can create a new interface to 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, better functionality with minimal effort, continuing to receive value from out of 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. 

Start your journey towards modernisation today