Cloud Topics

How to Modernize a Legacy System in Your Business

By Nicole Lim / Jul 20, 2020

How to Modernize a Legacy System in Your Business

A legacy system is an IT system that uses outdated technology or fails to match the efficiency and operational potential of a newer system. Unfortunately, it is also considered critical to a business, and helps managers and employees with their daily tasks.

Legacy systems can hold companies back, creating inefficiencies in the workplace and slowing down innovation. There are a few essential steps businesses must take in order to successfully overhaul legacy systems and start using more advanced and efficient alternatives.

Assess Your Current Software or Hardware

It is such a basic step it can be easy to overlook, but the best way to begin an overhaul is with a thorough review of what systems and solutions are currently in place. You will want to ensure the system you have in place meets your business’s needs on a daily basis. You should inquire among all stakeholders to understand exactly how the current solution is utilized, what inefficiencies it creates, and what an ideal system would look like. As you assess, some questions to keep in mind include:

  • Can you accept and process multiple data formats from internal applications and partner systems?
  • Do you have to customize integrations to connect new applications to the system?
  • Are you able to handle large amounts of data?
  • Can you identify data processing errors and resolve them quickly?
  • How much is the legacy system costing you in terms of chargebacks, maintenance, and development?

These questions can help you understand the system you have in place and begin to strategize the integration of a new system. This way, you can be sure that the new system will meet the needs of the business and help it run more efficiently.

Consider Digital Solutions

Legacy systems often entail cumbersome on-site servers, outdated hardware, or simply poorly maintained systems that lack internal support services. The solution may be to turn to a digital commerce platform. The type of solution you choose will depend on your business’s needs. These solutions include:

  • Cloud Computing: Cloud computing solutions provide access to operating systems, software, hardware, and other administrative tools via the cloud platform. Many large enterprises use cloud computing solutions including SaaS solutions because of the large data storage and the accessibility. There are many cloud marketplaces that offer different cloud computing services to meet a variety of business needs.
  • SaaS solutions: Software as a service (SaaS) solutions are one example of cloud computing that allows users to connect and use cloud-based apps over the internet. This can include email, calendars, and office tools. Many businesses sell their SaaS solutions on SaaS marketplaces, where you can compare different SaaS applications.
  • Legacy API Wrapping: Many legacy systems can be saved with the addition of API solutions. APIs allow businesses to create a hybrid where data can be transferred between the legacy system and the new system built on top of it.

Create a Strategy

Again, this is a step that is deceptively simple, and easy to skip or rush. As you complete the initial assessment, build a well-rounded wishlist of features and improvements, and compare this against available solutions, packages, and service providers, it is essential to build a clear strategy for implementation. There are a few general types of strategies you might use, though the finer details will depend on your particular situation:

  • Migration and enhancement: This involves migrating legacy software to the cloud or other modern environment and enhancing its important system features. It can include user interface and user experience updates, performance optimization, and database migration.
  • Improvement and growth: This strategy is used when the IT environment is advanced and may need minor improvements like updates to the software architecture. With this method, there are no significant changes in business logic, and you can add more features to the system later.

These methods can help your business integrate new systems efficiently without major disruptions. It’s important to remember that most legacy systems will not be replaced in a single day; having an implementation schedule and deadlines for the new system will help increase migration efficiency and decrease downtime.

Challenges to Upgrading Legacy Systems

Recognizing a problem, and even identifying the ideal solution, can seem straightforward compared to the actual implementation. Even the best strategy for selecting and preparing for a new system can be undermined by any of a number of common obstacles to adoption and rollout. Knowing how to approach and overcome these challenges can help you make the most out of your legacy system upgrades and prepare for any setbacks that may occur along the way.

Teaching the Team

Employees are often uncomfortable with system updates, and teaching them new techniques and processes may cause friction in the workplace. To start implementing the new system, be sure that management knows the ins and outs of the new technology. This way, they can easily answer questions, resolve problems, and help the employees navigate the new system. Other tips include:

  • Making training a priority;
  • Improving employee buy-in;
  • Setting clear and realistic deadlines and implementation methods;
  • Using training incentives;
  • Picking the right training format.

Ideally, your new subscription commerce solution provider will offer some level of deployment support and user onboarding training to aid with the transition; this may be a consideration when selecting the replacement system, given how important adoption and training can be to the long-term success of any new system.

Integration

If you do not opt for a full system overhaul, odds are you will have to integrate new applications with old legacy elements. To do this as seamlessly as possible, consider the evolutionary method of integration. This method involves a systematic software integration process and can help businesses avoid major disruptions. When you are modernizing your legacy platform, keep these tips in mind:

  • Beta test the new system with a small part of the team;
  • Integrate the new technology in sections instead of all at once;
  • Find tools that can help integration;
  • Add a user-friendly layer for employees;
  • Use APIs to help integrate new technology and old legacy systems.

Legacy upgrades and modernization can be overwhelming, and can’t be implemented in one day. However, the tips and strategies above can help you upgrade your legacy system as efficiently as possible, allowing your business to reap the benefits of a modern technology solution.