Isn’t it time you updated that old system?

Isn’t it time you updated that old system?

We all know that business is constantly evolving, growing and changing which is something we as individuals all accept and adapt to, so why not insist our systems change to meet changes in our business landscape? I’ve often seen old, outmoded systems and processes still being used in several businesses I’ve come across and I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I am guilty of hanging onto an old system because: –

  1. I’m used to it and know how it works
  2. I haven’t got time to learn a new system
  3. The cost of a new system is surely going to be too much
  4. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t – how do I know this new shiny system is going to be better than my old one?

Think of an old system like owning a house, before you bought your house you did a lot of research; made sure it’s in a nice neighbourhood, checked it had the right number of rooms, ensured the garden is big enough etc. Exactly like your house is your IT systems – you spend the time and effort to ensure its right for you.

When you move into your house its perfect, it’s yours, you ignore the minor issues and you are happy. Fast forward a few months/ years are you still as happy? Maybe your family has just got bigger or smaller, or you have a new job that means a longer commute or your best friend buys a bigger, nicer house than yours and you think “maybe I should move, after all repairing and keeping this house in order takes up a lot of my time and money”. Then you think of the moving costs, the strangers looking round your house at viewings and the stress of moving and just decide it’s a project for next year. Exactly like your IT systems – they no longer fit what we want them to do but we persevere with them out of familiarity and ease.

One important thing to consider is what happens if the system falls over or another business evolution renders it utterly redundant? This is where owning an old system is not like a house as you can’t just move back in with your parents if your system no longer operates!

If you have a legacy system that isn’t quite working for you the way it once did what should you do about it?

  • Analyse the system – what job(s) does it do? What workarounds/ compromises are you making just to make the task fit your system? How much extra time are the shortfalls in the system costing your team? Can it be moved (our old DD system resided on a PC that must have been 15 years old the software was unsupported and we literally couldn’t move it – the result waiting 45 minutes for the PC to boot up!)
  • What options do you have to get it working better? – Can you integrate it with another system to save time? Would housing it on newer tech improve performance? Can it be mobilised so it’s accessible anywhere/ anytime?

Now you’ve done this you should be in a position to decide what to do next: –

Option A – Keep the current system.

If you go with option make sure you plan sometime in the future to re-analyse the system again. Ensure you have a flexible support option who can help you if the system fails. Finally think about amending the system to slowly allow it to evolve enabling it to become more efficient for you.

Option B – Integrate it with another system

Extending the system is a good way of introducing new features into your old system, even if it just cuts out some double entry this will save time and reduce errors.

Option C – Go nuclear and replace it!

This is the hard option – you need to tell your team the system needs replacing, yes this will mean cost – often when you have little or no budget for this kind of thing, training and a nail biting transition period.  You also need to consider what you want to replace this system and what you need it to do now and in the future.

Whichever option you go with Red Robot Systems can help you out, so if you have an old system that’s causing your frustrations let us know what we can do to help you out.

About the author

Philip James administrator

I am a System Developer here at Red Robot Systems.