Keith Nation
By Keith Nation on 14 Dec, 2022

Upgrading legacy systems can be time consuming. And costly. Even painful!

Whether you’re a safety-first CIO that just wants to keep things running smoothly, or a progressive technologist who’s focused on moving things forward, there’s no denying that consolidating multiple technologies and updating an existing system in an organisation is a challenge.

The first hurdle is convincing people that change is necessary.

Even if your existing business systems don’t work that well, many people will object to a different solution - simply because they don’t want to have to learn how to use a new technology. Often, it’s not that they don’t want to modernise legacy systems, it’s just a matter of prioritising this against all the other work they have to do. Alongside this, you’ve also got to consider the costs, the security and data management implications, and the practicalities of implementation of other systems. 

Whether your upgrade is motivated by growth, an acquisition, restructuring, or the simple replacement of outdated software, it’s up to you to make sure that it’s as painless and rewarding as possible.

Following the steps below will set you on the path to success.

Key considerations for replacing a legacy system

Upgrading legacy systems isn’t just challenging, it can also be quite complex.

We won't break down every factor that goes into the process in this short article, but adopting the following principles can help inform some of the decisions you’ll face along the way.

Think about the future. Today.

The environment around you today will influence your decisions, but in a few years you'll probably need to adapt your processes and technology once again to suit the new landscape.

While SaaS platforms provide API’s, webhooks, and other integration tools to make it easier than ever before to perform a legacy system migration, you should ensure your choices are well-informed by doing your research.

  • Is the technology solution you’re considering well supported and updated regularly?
  • How well funded is the vendor, and can they demonstrate ongoing investment in their roadmap?
  • Are there positive case studies from real-world implementations showing how the technology delivers against the vendors promise?
  • How will the new system fit into your wider technology / business roadmap?

Technology is just an enabler

Even though your business relies on technology, upgrading a legacy system shouldn’t be a technology-led process.

Focus on identifying the problems you’re trying to solve, as well as the outcomes you want to achieve - look for tools that will help you achieve those outcomes.

With these principles in mind, you can then start the process of upgrading your legacy systems in three stages.

The 3-step legacy systems replacement strategy

Step 1 - Do a thorough technology evaluation

It’s impossible to understand the impact of any changes you might make without a good audit of existing systems in place, how they're performing, how they work together, and what the people that use them think of them.

To achieve this, you need to do a technology audit.

You need to consider the business processes that the technology supports and the integrations that are in place to ensure that any changes don’t have unexpected, and unfortunate, consequences.

Step 2 - Identify the problems

Look at support tickets and speak to users to identify any pain points with the old systems. 

Track the flow of data and dependencies between different tech stacks to identify the root cause of the problem.

You might find, for example, that issues in your call centre’s case management system might be helped by improving the integration and data capture from upstream systems such as your company’s website.

Step 3 - Plan and execute systematic change

While a total transformation and replacement of outdated systems with newer systems can be the optimal way to solve legacy issues, it’s not always financially or logistically viable - or even necessary.

You could consider the incremental replacement of technology over time or retro-fitting API integration tiers so that legacy systems can be swapped out further down the line.

If any of these introduce too much risk or expense, then you could simply maintain the status quo. When you’re in a position to move forward, at least you’ll have the information you need about your systems and from where your problems stem.

DCX can help your business upgrade its legacy systems

Technology changes so quickly. It’s hard to balance the limitations of being stuck on an old technology stack against the risk of early adoption - especially when it might appear that the safest bet is the solution that’s most popular in your sector.

Don’t just buy into something for the sake of it without doing your due diligence, and don’t get suckered into thinking that a new shiny piece of technology alone will solve your problems.

We have over twenty years' experience helping organisations to navigate this uncertain world, by helping them understand the technology that’s in the business now, what value it provides and where improvement can be made to help transform ways of working and the customer experience.

Whether it's a solution for customer data management, marketing automation, ecommerce, content distribution, data cleansing, or a new digital experience platform, we have the knowledge and the technology expertise to help you make a difference.

Do Technology. Better.