It is interesting to see how different businesses deal with legacy computing systems. On one hand, these systems have been critical in getting your company to where they are today. On the other, they are getting old, and newer technology will almost assuredly improve aspects of your business, including security, software functionality, and computing efficiency. For this reason, companies that have a dedicated strategy in place to routinely upgrade their core technologies tend to run into fewer technology-related problems.
What Exactly Is a Legacy System?
A legacy computing system is a euphemism for an outdated computing system. Many organizations that have been in business for a while run into times when the technology they use is either multiple versions behind the current systems available or is simply not available for purchase any longer. Most legacy computing systems, while still having an immense amount of function for a singular company, create problems for migration to new hardware and new cloud environments, and most concerning, for data security.
It Isn’t Always So Simple to Upgrade
Upgrading from a legacy computing system is always going to be costly, but it doesn’t have to be as costly has you may think. Even though it is in the best interest of the business to upgrade to systems that better fit its current needs, moving forward on these upgrades creates a lot of anxiety, given the large costs involved. Beyond these costs, you have a myriad of variables to concern yourself with. These include:
- User productivity: Will the people tasked with using this system take to it quickly, or will there be some very obvious transitional problems? Additionally, will they accept the change? For example, if you’ve had employees using the same hardware and software systems for close to a decade, altering the entire construct, while in the best interests of the business, can sometimes have devastating effects on employee morale.
- Time investment: Typically, a major hardware refresh, or platform migration will come with substantial upfront (and often recurring) costs. That is expected; but, beyond the expected expenses, depending on the project, you may run into some downtime, a major problem for any company trying to migrate from an older IT system to something new.
- Employee dread: When making big investments into infrastructure or networking, some employees may begin to surmise that, once the new technology is implemented that the built-in automation possible with new technology will spell curtains for their jobs. Having an upfront and open dialogue with your staff can set the situation straight before any company-wide panic sets in.
- Committing to the new solution: As stated above, if you’ve gotten this far with the system you have, changing part of the way upstream may leave you only utilizing features that you are comfortable with, when new solutions present organizations with many, many more options to boost productivity and efficiency. If you are going to commit to spending the time and money in upgrading, be sure that you are ready to commit to the new solution.
How Creating a Dedicated Upgrade Strategy Helps
With what seems to be a never-ending list of issues popping up, you decide that abandoning legacy systems for more innovative solutions is in order. You can’t accomplish this by impulsively adding technology.
You need a plan.
In this case, the plan is called an upgrade strategy. It allows you to plan out the steps that you need to take to successfully move on from your old technology. Here is a short list of steps you will need to consider:
- Include your people: Anyone inside (or outside) of your organization that may have a stake in a major system refresh (whether it be hardware, cloud migration, or software) should be in the know. By understanding how the upgrade will affect them, they can prepare their workflow more effectively for the shift.
- Change control planning: What is going to change when the new system is in? If very little, managing the changeover will be simple, but if there are several aspects of your business are going to be altered by the upgrade, having someone in charge of facilitating and readying your staff for that change is a good idea.
- Manage the upgrade: Who is going to be doing the upgrading? Will there be downtime involved? How long will the project take? If it doesn’t take, is there a contingency plan in place? All these questions should be answered well in advance of any work commencing on your business’ computing infrastructure.
- Make sure your backup works: Your best bet is to back up your files, then back them up again. Losing data when trying to help your business isn’t good for anyone.
- Document everything: Not only should you document the upgrade process, you should document all workflow differences for every position touched by the new systems. This strategy provides transparency throughout your organization and assures a degree of continuity you’ll be glad to have if some element of the project goes wrong.
If you follow these six steps you should be in a pretty solid position to upgrade away from your legacy systems. The IT professionals at k_Street Consulting, LLC can make this process much simpler as we have the technology and the proficiency to properly get your systems upgraded, your data migrated, and your IT working the way you need it to be a benefit for your business. Call us today at (202) 640-2737 to learn more.