What’s a Legacy System Replacement Project? A Non-Technical User
Sean McGauley

By: Sean McGauley on March 10th, 2020

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What’s a Legacy System Replacement Project? A Non-Technical User's Guide to Starting the Conversation

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)  |  Content Migration

“Legacy” is a term we see a lot in the IT world; in reference to software and hardware, it describes a system that has been superseded by improved technology. It’s easy to identify these systems with one simple question:

“Have our business needs outgrown this system?”

If you answered yes, it’s likely you’re in need of a legacy system replacement project - a project to replace the outdated system with a new system that can better suit the needs of the business.

From a user’s standpoint, legacy systems are often associated with lots of frustrations and headaches because they no longer offer what users need to get their job done.

As technology advances and the variety, volume, and velocity of the information in our business environment continues to expand, many organizations find themselves working with outdated legacy systems. In fact, according to AIIM research, 92% of organizations believe that they must modernize their information management strategy in order to meet the challenges of information chaos and confusion.

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What are the Common Reasons for Legacy Modernization Projects?

So, when should a legacy system be decommissioned through a modernization project? There are two primary indicators.

  1. When it's been replaced by another system: Besides the general frustration of working with outdated systems, our research shows the most important reasons cited for undertaking such an initiative are to improve organizational flexibility and agility (27%), followed closely by improving knowledge worker productivity (18%).
  2. When it's reached the end of its useful life: This is different because organizations often don't replace systems when the vendor expects them to - they keep them running as long as possible. It's like paying off your car and keeping it as long as possible so you don't have to make a car payment for a while. The problem is that at some point the vendor won't support it any longer with fixes, security updates, etc. At that point you can either keep it running and hope nothing bad happens, or, when something bad DOES happen, to pay a significant amount to recover from it. The longer you try to extend a solution past its useful (and supported!) life, the more likely something bad will happen from which recovery will be difficult - or impossible.

Why Non-Technical Users NEED to Champion the Legacy Modernization Conversation

So, who should champion the conversation about modernization? Who in the business is responsible for standing up and saying, “We need a change!”?

It’s common to think that someone else will start the conversation at your organization. Or, to think that you need technical skills to bring the conversation center stage. Most end-users will even continue to struggle to work with outdated systems before even thinking of starting the conversation. But, here at AIIM, we believe in the old adage that “the squeaky wheel gets the grease!”

We believe that users are in a unique position to drive the legacy modernization conversation. Just think:

  • YOU understand the problems created by overflowing and incompatible information silos.
  • YOU understand that accessing content across multiple platforms is a major challenge.
  • YOU understand that being part of the bigger conversation early on is very important for ALL stakeholders – both IT and non-technical users.

Why it Pays to Speak Up

There is real value – and power – in actively participating in revolutionary projects like this in your organization. Your unique position gives you a perfect starting point to kick off the conversation at your place of work. Here are three ways to prepare:

  • Take time to define the problems being created by the outdated legacy system. Define what this means for the business, how it may get worse, etc.
  • Define where your content silos are. Identify where your content lives, which systems can ‘connect’ and which cannot. Outline opportunities that are tied to connecting this information in a useable way.
  • Map out the key stakeholders that should be a part of the conversation.

This is an extremely important conversation, and one that you don't have to go at alone. For a recent webinar, we gathered some of the top minds in information management to explore this topic even further. You can watch this discussion on-demand here

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