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Legacy System Audit: How to Make the Case for Change

Legacy systems are widely considered a barrier to organizational efficacy. Yet businesses large and small continue to use them. The reason is simple: Rolling out a new platform is risky due to high cost, change management and the time investment. However, as processes improve through technology and legacy systems become more obsolete, the negative implications of sticking with a business-as-usual platform compounds while stunting business growth.

While many understand that once rollout is complete, the newly upgraded platform will benefit the company, it’s difficult to clear the large hurdle in front of them—platform implementation. Business users bear the weight of the challenges imparted by the legacy system, so oftentimes it’s up to them to help make the case for change. Because after all, if a legacy system is impacting your team’s performance today, it will likely worsen in the future. Furthermore, if you can clearly document the faults and ramifications, your leadership team will be inclined to consider a modernization of your business processes.

To conduct an audit of a legacy system, ask yourself the following questions:

Is there easy access to support staff?

Not all organizations, even within the same industry, operate in the same fashion. As a result, businesses need platforms to flex to meet their unique needs. Your enterprise resource planning (ERP) or document management system should be adaptable to increase productivity among users. For example, development teams should be able to build modules and workflows to complete company-specific tasks, even for an out-of-the-box platform. If your legacy system is so outdated that there isn’t access to developers who can adapt the solution to meet your needs, your organization’s profit margin may be hampered.

“The new class of technical people is not getting trained on the old systems,” Lee Camden, IT director at Earl L. Henderson Trucking told Trucking Info. “They would come up and have no idea how to work on these systems.”

Is work confined to the office?

The agile workplace is here. Even if you don’t work from home, you shouldn’t be nailed to your desk. Nowadays software is no longer anchored to your desktop, but accessible through the web and mobile devices. Does your current system adapt to give employees greater workplace efficiency? Inquire whether it’s possible to deploy a web portal or mobile application to complete work on the go. Not possible? You have a case for looking elsewhere.

Are integrations possible?

A term popular among tech publications is “island of automation.” It describes an adhoc platform that doesn’t integrate well, or at all, with other systems. Using an ERP platform is an industry standard for large organizations, yet it’s necessary for the system to connect with other facets of the business such as an ECM tool or CRM. If integration is impossible, then your organization stands to waste loads of time trying to share information between the systems since automation is possible.

Is your legacy system limiting your ability to meet customers’ needs?

Do you not have the bandwidth to roll out a new product feature? It’s time to ask yourself why. Chances are, inefficient business processes are leading to the inability to reinvest in your business. Another common situation is when businesses build elaborate workarounds to solve gaps in processes, which eats up employees’ time and limits service offerings to customers.

“You eventually reach a stage where the volume of transactions exceed your processing capacity or the software you need to do the job simply will not run on the older platform,” Braxton Vick, senior vice president-corporate planning and development at Southeastern Freight Lines told Trucking Info.

Document your responses to these questions and pair them with anecdotes of how they impact your business. Then bring them to your department head or CIO. They’re a great conversation starter for making the case for change.

Need help auditing your legacy system and building a business case for a new document management tool or ERP integration? Contact us.

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