The modern world has us changing software at a rapid pace. Starting from constant reminders on our smartphones, tech advancements are pushing us to update or replace our software as soon as possible. On the one hand, it’s the right software that makes us competitive, so updating it makes sense. On the other hand, purchasing new software can be costly, so sometimes we avoid doing it.
That might have you wondering: should you invest in new software to replace your old applications? Or should you stick to legacy systems that still perform well? Those are tough questions to answer but I tried to answer them below by taking a look at the different things you have to keep in mind.
Consider the lack of updates
This is the most obvious con of legacy software. As it happens, old software (especially from third-party providers) usually doesn’t have updates. They simply aren’t on the market anymore due to their new, fancier replacements offering new services. The updates are about more than just the speed of service or the new exciting add-ons. Increased protection against new cyberthreats is the number one reason why you have to update your software regularly.
This means that keeping legacy systems is preventing you from accessing vital security measures. That and that alone should be enough reason for you to update your older systems. However, things aren’t so black or white in a business environment.
Acknowledge the legacy software benefits
Is new always better? Not necessarily, though new is definitely more attractive with all the heavy advertising involved. Before you move on to list the advantages of new software, you should consider why keeping good ol’ legacy software could be the best decision at the moment.
To this end, you could make a list of legacy software’s advantages, such as these:
- Familiarity — your team is well acquainted with the old software and finishes the tasks fast. New software requires training staff and stepping out of the comfort zone. Unless it’s faster and provides much better results, there’s no need for the stress of introducing new software solutions. Good software maintenance can sometimes suffice.
- High costs — the costs of buying new software and training the workforce are usually higher than what you would spend on adjusting and tweaking the old version.
- Positive customer experience — or, in other words, don’t fix it if it’s not broken. Suppose your latest customer satisfaction survey shows they’re satisfied with what you’re achieving with the current software. In that case, there might be no need to mess with perfection.
Studying legacy software’s advantages over the new software can help you get a more precise overview of how (un)justified the new expense could be.
Consult with experts about the new software
You should consult two sources before replacing the legacy software: the new software provider, and your team.
The first one should have all the answers about the major benefits and latest features that can help you improve your business. In addition, the latter should be able to give you proper estimations if the new software is a valuable asset.
Talk to your team members that have been using the legacy software or would be in charge of the new one. They should know best which operations are necessary to cover, if the new features are worth it, and when in the future they can see the new software paying off. Your team should be able to see right through the enthusiastic advertising by asking the seller very specific questions.
There’s another important fact you may oversee. No man is an island, and the saying can apply to software too. Hence, you’ll have to contact different departments within your company as the change in one legacy software may have a hard impact on another, and consequently the whole business.
For instance, accounting software is normally integrated with sales software. If your sales manager suggests getting new software, you have to check if it’s compatible with legacy software from accounting, or more departments. If not, then you’ll be financially challenged, having to make several investments instead of just one as you originally planned.
With the feedback from both the vendor and your team, you’ll eventually make an informed decision about tossing or keeping the legacy software.
New software requires new talent
Introducing the latest software implies training your staff. However, that’s not nearly as costly as hiring new team members, which can be one of the alternatives. Sometimes, this scenario is inevitable. For instance, 33.27% of the world’s developers are skilled in Java, which means you can also fairly easily hire one. However, if the new software requires an expert in Swift, Ruby, or Dart, that’s a much narrower talent pool to choose from. A similar situation occurred with the extinction of Java-based applets. As they became obsolete, companies had to find proper replacements, not all of whom used Java.
If it doesn’t pay off at the moment to hire a new employee, stick to the old legacy, but be aware of the period when you’ll have to succumb to the new advances and add a new expert to your team.
When is the right time to replace old software?
We’ve listed all the possible ways of keeping your old software alive, but when do you really have to say goodbye? If rearchitecting or improving the legacy system starts to get costly, then it’s time to consider adopting a new solution. If you’re struggling to find people to do maintenance in the old applications or if paying them is hurting your budget, then you should start thinking about implementing new software.
Nevertheless, in order to avoid such a stressful situation, look for clear signs to begin the transition period from your legacy to new software. The best you can do in the meantime is a regular analysis of the software’s pros and cons. That way, you’ll efficiently replace the legacy software with the new version with minimal stress and costs.