The Legacy System Awards: The Best, Worst, and Weirdest Things We’ve Seen

legacy system awards


A quick reminder on the definition of a legacy system

The main condition to consider a system to be legacy is its outdatedness in terms of platform, techniques, processes, programming language or terminology. Dealing with an outdated system often implies that your team has to deal with many issues related to maintenance, integration, compatibility, security, accessibility, support and cost. If you are able to bypass these issues, your legacy system may still have a few years to live but you will sooner or later have to replace it anyways.

Let’s now have a look at what are the best, the worst and the weirdest legacy systems to help you figure out where you stand.


The best legacy system

The best legacy system may not be using the latest techniques and languages but it is not dealing with many issues. It is easy to maintain and it is compatible enough with current technologies to be easily integrated with other systems. It is secure and can be used online without fearing for security breaches and lost data.

The support is still offered by its vendor and the team has a good understanding of its architecture. It’s easy for new employees to learn how to use it and its users still enjoy working with it on a daily basis. Finally, the cost of maintaining is under control. The financial advantage of replacing the system is unclear if not unfavorable.


The worst legacy system

On the other hand, the worst legacy system is clearly more than ready to be replaced. It cost a fortune to maintain and it just seems that money is bleeding out of it. The maintenance is a constant battle, adding patches after patches and making it more vulnerable for attacks and security breaches. It is impossible to integrate any other system to it. It takes a lot of training for new users to adapt to the system.

The vendor is long gone which means that the support is in the hands of the few senior employees who where there when the system was implemented many years ago. The team is still doing the best they can with what they have in hands but they are starting to dream about a replacement system. Even if the budget may be tight, the benefits of replacing this legacy system are clearly there.


The weirdest legacy system

On top of all the problems you will encounter with the worst legacy system, the weirdest legacy system adds the problem to be incredibly hard to use by the end-users. The logging process and daily operation of the system includes command prompts, usually hand-written on an old sheet of paper, taped to the side of the keyboard. Nobody even knows who wrote the system so you forgot about support a long time ago. The hardware it is running on is decades old since this system would never run on current computers. New employees are baffled when you try to teach them how to use it.

Keeping such a legacy system is definitely a threat for your business. The longer you keep it, the hardest it will be to salvage your data and migrate it in a new system using current technology.


The lesson is clear. Do yourself a favor and take good care of your legacy system. You should also know when to pull the plug and replace it. The key to success is to budget your systems’ maintenance and support with a short, medium and long-term vision.

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