Technology is advancing so quickly that it is sometimes difficult to keep up. This is especially noticeable when it comes to updating your legacy technology. If your business is running fairly smoothly, it would not be unreasonable to let your systems continue as they are, simply making a few repairs as needed. But there will come a time when you will have to seriously consider the decision to modernize legacy systems.
The risk with maintaining the status quo is that there will come a time when simple repairs or recoding will no longer be the best option to keep your legacy technology running effectively. Continuing to patch as needed in the short term could harm your business as it could affect overall performance and customer experience in the long run.
If you are unsure about whether to make the financial investment and update, there are a few considerations to help guide your decision.
This is probably the most obvious indication that you may need to update your software and data center. If you have implemented new systems that aren’t compatible with your older systems, you are not running efficiently and must consider new solutions. In addition, you may receive complaints from clients or customers if your system is not working properly or even completely incompatible with theirs. If so, modernization is a must.
Smartphone use has increased nearly 50% in the past eight years alone, so people who use your system are most likely using it on the go. This applies to your employees as well as your client base. Because there are different platforms needed for smartphone compatibility, older systems may not operate correctly on mobile devices.
Your employees may work remotely or in the field. If the technology they have on their end is newer and faster than what your system can handle, their productivity (and your bottom line) will suffer. The same could be said for your client base. If they cannot get the answers they need when they need them (due to your outdated system), they could take their business elsewhere.
Like the decision to repair or replace a sentimental old car as the cost to keep it on the road continues to rise, the same can be applied to legacy technology.
Sure, you could continue to repair and use new code only as needed, but if you start to tally up the costs of these patches, you will probably find that you are actually throwing good money after bad. This is wasted money you could use towards purchasing and implementing a new, updated system.
Whatever software you are using came with great technical support… once upon a time. However, as technology advances, those businesses have had to evaluate where they will be applying their own money and efforts. If more people are using a newer product, the companies will concentrate on supplying those users with full support. This, of course, means taking support away from other products. Eventually, support for older systems will disappear entirely, leaving you with no technical support for your system.
In addition, as older technology is phased out, it will become more difficult to find skilled technicians to fix any problems that arise. That will leave you either unable to fix the system or paying a premium price for someone who knows how to work with it.
Beyond these few warning signs, there are other ways to tell that it may be time to update. Evaluate your approach concerning your own technology as you answer these questions:
- Have areas of your system been down for a period of time, but you decided to just leave them instead of fixing them?
- If you have tried to patch or recode one area, has it had an adverse effect on another area of the system?
- Are you building ways to work around a problem, rather than actually solving a problem?
- Have you implemented an update or new release that failed, causing you to revert back to the old system?
If you answered yes to more than one of these, it is simply time to upgrade.
Leaving Problems Unaddressed
Theoretically, your original system was a complete package at one time. You probably did not implement a system that had holes in it. But as you have continued to patch, it is exactly what you have allowed. There are now gaps in your system that affect the way it runs. Ignoring them will only cause more problems down the road.
Affecting Other Areas
You were able to fix one area of the system, but now another portion is unstable, inconsistent, or flat out does not work. Your attempt to fix a small problem has just turned into a bigger one. If you attempt to fix the second problem, there is a strong possibility that it will adversely affect another area and so on. You could continue to chase these problems endlessly, but that is a waste of time and money.
This is similar to leaving problems unaddressed. Figuring out a way to avoid a problem is just as unproductive as not addressing it at all. The fact remains that there is an issue in your system that is still an issue, which means your system is not at its peak capability.
Deep down, you may have dreaded the release because you knew that it might not be fully implemented to begin with. If you think about it, it is like trying to build something on a faulty foundation. The release failed because there was not sufficient backup coming from the old system.
If you do a thoughtful and thorough analysis of your system using these examples, you should be able to figure out easily if it is time for you to update your legacy technology.