Your Legacy System is a Dinosaur!
Many companies feel the pinch when IT staff is spread too thin and often that ties in directly to the systems the team must support. Supporting old technology is more time-consuming and more specialized. If you’re also concerned about hiring and retaining the best and brightest IT personnel, something important to many businesses, legacy systems can be a lot less inspiring to maintain than more modern systems.
In part one of this series, we explored the seven signs to help you identify whether to stick with the old or upgrade to the new. You may have come to the conclusion by now that you’ve got a system that is hampering your progress. Now what?
We Have a Dinosaur: What’s Next?
It’s time to upgrade! Here are four steps we recommend you take next.
1. Develop a list of reasons for upgrading. Ask “why” and “why now?”
Look at your legacy system and identify your key complaints related to performance, functionality and compatibility. What do you wish your current system could do? What do you like about what it does now? Is there useful functionality that a new system will provide that your current one does not? New supported processes and compliance requirements are common drivers.
Does your corporate IT vision include significant changes that make your current WMS configuration outdated or out of sync with plans? Common IT vision elements include third party hosting, moving to the cloud, virtualization and operating system, hardware and DBMS standards.
2. Find your technology futurist.
What is the secret weapon to achieving and maintaining excellent information systems? It’s having a technology futurist. Take a look at your IT department and identify that individual. This person has a passion for staying on top of technology trends and enjoys living on the edge of technology. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and blockchain are topics this person is probably talking about in depth. While it’s good to encourage all of your people to stay current with trends, the futurist needs no encouragement. Listen to your people. Are we moving things in the right direction? Review your systems often. The best way to maintain excellent information systems is to look at them quarterly and do a deep dive annually.
3. Commit to a planned and ongoing IT investment.
Someone said IT spend should be 6% of revenue. While there is such a thing as a healthy amount of IT spend, there’s also an unhealthy amount. True of everything in business, you need to continue to invest when business is booming and even when it is in decline. When you stop investing, there is a snowball effect. And if you stop making investments in IT or even product development and marketing when business is down, you may never get out of that decline.
4. Crawl, walk, run approach or big bang?
The cadence for implementing a new solution is unique to every project. A key factor here is the change management culture within your organization, as that will dictate which tactic you will be using. There are solid cases for big bang approach and for a crawl, walk, run approach. Sometimes it’s best to introduce technology in small doses and sometimes it’s best to shut the old system down and never look back. Every situation is different. One client changed their ERP and they had 13 warehouse management systems. Big bang was the only approach in this case. It requires more testing, more training and more commitment and planning, but big bang is an effective method in many cases.
No matter the cadence of your new technology implementation, consider using the Leapfrog approach to keep your IT staff engaged and inspired. With the Leapfrog method, you assign a specific team to work on the newest technology and have a separate team in place to maintain the legacy system. Then when you shut the old system down, the team that’s been keeping the older system going can leapfrog and work on the next new and exciting technology project.
Get with the Times
Your technology is your competitive advantage – or disadvantage. Hanging on to a legacy system can hold you back from new functionality, scalability and efficiencies. You are missing out on productivity gains and facing transparency issues because systems don’t integrate well, in addition to a real threat of data loss when systems are no longer supported. You may also struggle to hold on to your best and brightest if you’re not giving them projects they can sink their teeth into at least periodically.
It’s always the right time to address how you can be doing things better. Now is the time to assess your current systems and think more modernly about your processes and IT vision. Your business will benefit and your IT staff will thank you for it. Explore the newest JDA software to learn which could be the best fit for you and your IT staff.