March 1, 2022

How to Efficiently Manage Risk on Your Legacy System in 2022

De-risking your legacy system
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Technology is rapidly evolving all the time, and it's tough for all of us to keep up. New business processes are being created every day, with outdated technologies being removed or replaced.

Quite often, an organisation will adopt a new software system only for it to become obsolete within just a few years. Often companies are reluctant to rebuild or abandon their legacy systems – instead opting to extend support for their current set up. Fortunately, a system can be supported beyond an expected life cycle with proper maintenance and updates. 

If you want to get the most out of your legacy software, you should minimise risks by reducing key person dependencies, as well as implementing a roadmap for future improvements.  Replacing a functioning system constantly might make maintaining legacy systems difficult.

We will now dive into why.

Why Do We Use Legacy Systems? 

In many cases, legacy software systems are critical for day-to-day operations. Often for that reason alone, trying to maintain or transition is an ordeal, especially if things go wrong. What’s more, these software types are typically custom-made for an organisation’s specific use cases, which might make it the only option for some scenarios. 

The other primary reason companies tend to stick with legacy systems is the costs associated with replacing an entire system. Moreover, factoring in development time and staffing power to create a new system can be daunting – and sometimes more expensive than taking on more technical debt. 

Staff shortages and a lack of IT skills to maintain or transition to new systems can be an added barrier. 

What Are the Risks with Legacy Software? 

Inevitably there will be some risks when supporting a legacy system. These include: 

  • Creating technical debt by implementing several minor fixes in production. Technical debt (also known as code debt) is the result of prioritising fast delivery over flawless code. This debt adds up as developers have to go back and refactor the code for better long-term solutions. It quickly can add up as more changes are made to the system, growing exponentially. 
  • Lack of support for modern operating systems, or the system reaching its end-of-life after the company stops supporting it. This is especially apparent as the tech world adopts Windows 11, as not all bespoke software may be ready to be used on a new operating system. 
  • Security vulnerabilities can arise from these systems, primarily if exploits are found before a patch can be created. Some older software may not follow modern security practices, leading to potential vulnerabilities. 

But be aware - up grading legacy systems is not always the answer. As a first step, educate your team in order that they can mitigate as many risks as possible from the beginning. Adopt a risk mitigation culture within your organisation.

How Can You Manage Risks with Legacy Systems? 

Thankfully, you don’t have to remove an old system altogether, and instead, it can be improved.  In fact, there are several ways you can remove the risks associated with legacy technology and legacy systems as a whole. 

You can prevent possible risks such as security breaches by eliminating key-person dependencies. As mentioned before, many of these legacy systems are maintained by just a few people.  Therefore, by expanding your training and recruitment, you can flesh out your team’s skills and reduce the reliance on a single worker. 

Establishing a roadmap for future improvements can allow your team to reduce technical debt and maintain a clear plan for the future. Therefore, your organisation can better plan out the requirements that need to be prioritised, as well as handle new features. 

Instead of quick fixes, creating more long-term solutions can help you prepare and reduce the chances of taking on more technical debt. Discover how Synetec enabled Harbour Litigation Funding to support their business processes and vision. 

Speak to a Software Development Specialist

If you would like to discuss a bespoke software development project, challenge or goal please book a 30 minute Clarity Call with us and we'll point you in the right direction (even if you chose not to work with us)

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