7 Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions About Legacy System

Question marks


When it comes to legacy systems, nothing is completely black or white, right or wrong. There are many factors to consider and a great deal of analysis to be done before settling for a determinate answer. Here are seven of the most frequently asked questions and some points to consider when answering them.



Question 1: “How long will it take?”

Points to consider:

The more intricate your legacy system is, the more analysis will have to get done to create or find a system that will advantageously replace the outdated one. There is unfortunately no one size fits all answer to this question.

Bottom line:

All good things in life are worth waiting for. My suggestion is not to rush it. Your legacy system replacement should come with at least those three steps:

1.  Assessment & Gap Analysis

2.  Planning & Design

3.  Implementation & Data Migration

The assessment and gap analysis step should take the greatest amount of time. Of course, a custom system will take much longer to be developed, tested and implemented. With its balance of great design, lengthy testing and customization possibilities, a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) online database software may just be the right solution for you.


Question 2: “Will we need some sort of a bridge solution during the implementation and migration?”

Points to consider:

If the extraction and migration of your preexisting data prove to be difficult, you may need a bridge solution to transition from the legacy to the new system. Another point to consider is the possibility (or not!) of taking the system down and for how long. Could the implementation and data migration take place during a long week-end without problem or is it impossible to take it down for even a minute?

Bottom line:

Bridging is sometimes the way to go, especially if you have very sensitive data. My personal advice is, if you can avoid it, please do. Systems should be replaced before its nature renders the data extraction and migration too difficult.


Question 3: “What are the risks?”

Points to consider:

Once again, if your data is very sensitive (banking, compliance,booking, etc.) there should extra care put into the design of your replacement system. Your business simply can’t afford any glitch. In all cases, be very choosy with the vendor you choose todo the work. We all have a brother-in-law who is bragging he can do this for a quarter of the price the renowned vendor. Do you see the same flashing red lights as I do? Support issues? Security issues? Stability issues?

Bottom line:

If you take the time and put the effort in choosing your vendor and in all three steps of the replacement process, the risks are minimal. Play golf with your brother-in-law and trust the professionals to take care of your data.


Question 4: “How much will it cost?”

Points to consider:

There are so many factors to consider. First, what is your actual system versus what do you want as an end result? Are you taking this as an opportunity to do a tremendous upgrade of all the features available in your system? If your answer is yes, expect to shed big bucks.  Other points to consider are:

–  The number of users for your new system,

–  the number of database applications you require,

–  the amount of storage space you need,

– whether you choose DYI customization or a turnkey solution.

Bottom line:

Call your accountant, review your budget together, make an enlightened decision and stick to the budget! Don’t forget to set aside some money for support. Most vendors will charge for the three step replacement process and will consider a percentage of the price to pay as a recurring fee for support.


Question 5: “How much training does this change will involve for my staff?”

Points to consider:

How IT savvy is your team? How big of a change will the replacement of your system be? How big is your team? Does the replacement system also involve switching the operation system your team was using? These are all good questions to ask yourself before considering a big change.

Bottom line:

Investing a few hundred/thousand bucks on training to start with may sound like a foolish expense but it could save you a bunch down the road if it helps you set-up your team on the right foot. And remember, change is a process, not an overnight magical occurrence. Go back to this post for a few tips on how to manage the implementation of your new software.


Question 6: “Is all that cloud stuff safe?”

Points to consider:

Cloud-computing has been around for quite a few years now. Let’s be honest, in the beginnings of the trend, security has been an issue for many businesses. Nowadays, if you put your data in the hands of a well-known provider, your data is safe.

Bottom line:

Gartner is THE authority on all stuff technology. Get some basic information about the security of cloud-computing  here or register with them to have more in-depth information here.


Question 7: “Why would I change?”

Points to consider:

The question “Why fix it if it’s not broken?” is the usual go-to answer when questioning the possibility of replacing legacy system. Well, my go-to answer is a bold: “Can you afford to have your system blow-up in your face?”

Bottom line:

If the team is still enjoying working with your actual system, if there are no major issues (maintenance, integration and compatibility, security and accessibility, lack of support, rampant cost) and if the cost of replacing is higher then the cost of keeping it, you can consider keeping your legacy system. But remember, this is a short-term solution that should be reevaluated regularly to avoid the hassle and financial loss of having your legacy system die on you unexpectedly.



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