It’s a vicious cycle, being stuck with a software solution that is costly to maintain and impedes productivity, while, replacing isn’t easy either.
This is a continuation to my previous article, still using spreadsheets to manage work orders?, where I shared my thoughts on the benefits of switching from spreadsheets and paper based tools to purpose-built software to manage maintenance work orders.
There are a significant number of organizations that have adopted software based solutions over the decades. Many of them are now facing a different challenge; being stuck with a software solution that is costly to manage & maintain, hasn’t kept up with time and is causing productivity & growth impediment.
Before moving ahead, I would like to outline that there are scenarios when businesses need to stay with their legacy solutions, hence, my opinions would not apply to them, but, there is no harm in being informed.
I’ve listed some of the common challenges that organizations are currently facing because of their legacy solutions and if you are one of them, it might be time to start exploring your options.
Cost of ownership and resource-skills gaps
There are a few factors that continually drive the cost of ownership of these legacy solutions. Key is skills, people that have the knowledge and experience to support and maintain these solution are hard to come by and charge a lot. In addition, most of these solutions are hosted on-premises, on the company’s data center, which means that the company has to account for the entire cost of hosting and maintaining the hardware and the software.
This results in companies retaining staff (employee or contractor) just to keep-the-lights-on on these solutions. It could also result in a full set of servers and environments (development environment, test environments, hosting environments, production environments, etc) dedicated just for these solutions (as opposed to a shared environment), which makes the cost of ownership go through the roof.
Poor time to market
In addition to the lack of skills available in the market, legacy solutions are complex and they generally lack documentation. Hence, making changes is a painful process, both from a cost and a timeline perspective. It costs a lot more and takes longer to make any changes.
This results in a lengthy timeline to introduce enhancements and changes which could result in loss of competitive advantages or loss of customers if you are unable to serve them in a timely manner.
In an age where software development and deployments occur in a matter of days, companies need to be nimble and be able to quickly respond to changing market and customer needs.
Innovation Restriction and Opportunity Loss
A growing cost of ownership means that a significant amount of your annual budget has to be set aside for servicing your legacy solution. This starves other products and business areas from the investment they need to serve their customers and support the business objectives. Your legacy solution may also be hurting your innovation effort as the innovation team may be starved of resources to deliver the products and solutions required to keep the company growing and staying relevant in the future. It could also result in opportunity lost if your competitor is able to roll-out the product or service ahead of you.
User experience not keeping with time
Legacy solutions were generally built in the days when a business analyst documented the requirements provided by the end users or their representative and passed it over the the development team. They did not have the opportunity of engaging customer design or user experience teams to vet the design of the screens, layouts, flows, etc. or even share a prototype with the end user to get early feedback. Hence, the user experience on these legacy solutions are not as seamless as they are today. This impacts the efficiency of the users and at times could impact productivity, especially when everyone is moving around with a mobile device and can respond or make a decision on the go (through a mobile app or a mobile friendly software).
Legacy solutions or a significant portion of their components are generally unsupported by the vendor. The vendors that built the solution or its components are no longer enhancing/investing, supporting these components (should something break), or providing patches and fixes should any security vulnerabilities be identified. This leaves these solutions and companies vulnerable to hacking and data breaches and is an organizational risk, in addition to being non-compliant with government or industry regulations.
During my discussion with business leaders, I often come across situations when keeping a legacy solution operational is business critical, for example;
- Highly customised legacy solution that is a business differentiator and gives a competitive advantage. In such a case, moving to a standard product may not be beneficial. Adding integrations and custom capabilities can bring about a sea-change to the existing solution.
- Switching cost may be extremely high due to the complexity of managing changes across a large number of stakeholders. Also, keeping in mind that change activities like these could be disruptive and if there is a risk that some of your large customers may use this opportunity to explore alternatives, then, you may have to re-think how you deal with the legacy solutions.
- Replacements that require a significant capital investment when compared to modernization of key components may not be able to obtain executive approval and funding to proceed. In modernizing key components, the existing solution is compartmentalized and only selected components are replaced to achieve the desired business outcomes and could be implemented in phases over a period of time.
Depending on an organization’s current situation, there are option and alternatives to consider when dealing with legacy facility & asset management solutions. If you have been considering replacing your current facility & asset management solutions and would like to explore your options, then, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.