In this 2-part series, we explore some hidden costs and risks associated with running older IT systems, also called “legacy” systems.
Part 2 of 2: What are the risks of doing nothing?
Your beloved legacy system (which probably has a cute nickname) may be putting your business at risk every day. Often, we see older software which can’t be properly upgraded, leading to band-aid solutions and work-arounds. Running older technology can also prevent you from upgrading the operating system, which would normally fix bugs, address performance issues, and patch security holes. Security holes are discovered all the time and hackers learn new creative ways to exploit them. Patching security holes as they are discovered is imperative for keeping a system secure.
In addition to the risks from unplanned downtime and costly repairs, legacy systems have limitations which will keep your business from being competitive. Ask yourself, “If I started this business today, would I choose the same hardware and software?” We often see older, more established companies struggle to deliver the same level of service as newer organizations which were designed using the latest systems. That new company you’re competing with probably has a full suite of modern web-based applications and current operating systems, allowing them to use all the latest plug-ins and cool apps your customers like. In contrast, your older system may not have the API’s needed to connect with modern applications, forcing your employees to enter data into multiple systems or act as a “bridge” between parts of your system which aren’t connected. You also may struggle to connect your database or operating system with new applications your employees want to use. These limitations make you less competitive, slow down your orders, and create more opportunities for your team to make mistakes.
So, if you’ve had 10+ years of good luck with your systems, give yourself a pat on the back for developing a system that helped your business grow. But now it may be wise to consider upgrading while you’re still ahead. The hidden costs and risks of that older system will eventually catch up with you, and in the meantime your competitors probably have the technology advantage. In our experience, the cost to maintain a legacy system may exceed its replacement cost in in 12-24 months, especially if something goes wrong. Once installed, the cost of ownership for the new system goes way down. Now may be the perfect time to consider your options, including new systems and/or custom applications to improve the quality and performance of your business.