June 8, 2015 – In times of growth, companies have a lot to deal with when it comes to utilizing – and expanding – their current legacy technology architecture (often referred to as “Legacy”). First of all, these legacy systems were often not designed for new growth, but rather a hodgepodge of different technologies more tactically focused on putting out immediate fires than part of a thought-out long-term strategy. Secondarily, these legacy technologies typically weren’t designed by current IT leadership, but instead inherited in whatever composite configuration they’ve morphed into (they work, but have a “Rube Goldberg” feel).
At Coretek, we call this aged, evolved, complex situation “the legacy drag”. This is when you have a lot of moving IT parts, all very complex, that don’t exactly play well together, and definitely don’t give you the flexibility you need to provide strategic technological advancements. When your company is experiencing business growth, legacy drag can become just that – a huge drag. These layered, complicated systems can break frequently and require most of your man hours just to keep them running. At a time when your strategic expertise is most needed, you’re IT department is too busy maintaining the old system.
To help, we’ve put together a list of 3 Indicators of Legacy Drag during Times of Business Growth:
1. Your current technology architecture is a significant barrier to making advancements.
This isn’t actually a huge shocker, as you are surely very well versed in the layers of technology you’re currently supporting. But it can be shocking how difficult the convolution of these systems can make growth management. Older technologies that have outlived usefulness and are no longer supported (because the company who built the original technology doesn’t even exist anymore) can’t adapt to new functionality. Even worse, there’s nothing to replace them with. Now what?
Take a look of all of the technologies you are currently utilizing and divide them in 3 categories: optional & replaceable, standard business functions– i.e. payroll, email, etc., and any technologies that provide a competitive advantage. Then, get rid of the disposable, outsource (with SaaS) what you can, and focus on the technologies that really push your company ahead of the rest.
2. Your legacy system costs a ton to upgrade.
Most business growth requires a technological purchase of some kind. This could be new user hardware, expanded storage and network space, an upgrade to a critical business application, or the purchase of a brand new system needed to provide your company with the IT capabilities it now requires.
What you really need to consider is how expensive it will be to add to your traditional legacy system versus how expensive it will be to consolidate and upgrade to a more high-functioning, suitable IT solution. More times than not, streamlining and upgrading to a more future-favorable system provides major benefits – both financially and strategically.
3. Upgrading your legacy system takes forever.
Even if you’re looking for a quick fix, upgrading your legacy system will likely require a lengthy process of determining the correct path for adjusting to growth needs, ordering whatever hardware, software, or space that’s required, installation of said elements, and then onboarding of these elements into everyday business operations. All said and done, that can take a very long time.
There are faster and simpler solutions available. For example, virtualizing and centralizing your desktops or moving standard functions to cloud based applications can take as little as a few months to get up and running, and give you long-term benefits. They make future upgrades and additions that much easier, creating business and IT agility. Downtime becomes almost nil, and the day-today grunt work for your IT staff will be greatly diminished, freeing them up to work on more strategic projects. .
Legacy drag can really bring your company down during times of business growth. But it doesn’t have to. Technology is always advancing. That’s probably why you went into this field in the first place. It’s exciting and cutting edge, full of new possibilities. By making strategic upgrade decisions that are forward thinking and prepared to embrace new technological opportunities, you’ll keep your company positioned to not only handle growth today, but tomorrow, next year, and for years to come.