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You Love Your Legacy System. And It’s Killing Your Business.

You need a new pair of jeans. Your current pair is fraying around the cuffs and has a permanent rectangular impression in the front pocket where your phone fits. It has one visible coffee stain and several more that blend into the indigo. Though others can’t see all the flaws, you know they’re there.

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Your family has threatened to order you some fresh denim. But why are you so insistent on keeping your current pair?

The answer is obvious: they’re comfortable. Despite their imperfections, they fit you perfectly. Years of wear have practically molded them to your exact shape. When you buy new jeans, they’re going to feel a bit starchy at first. Adapting to them will take time.

Sooner than later, your current pair of jeans is going to fall apart. In fact, it’s already happening. The frays will turn to tears (pronounce that either way), and unless you’re careful, you’ll be left pantsless.

The Burden of Legacy Systems

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You love your company’s legacy system for the same reasons you love those jeans. You’ve used it for years, and it has fit most of your processes exactly to your liking. (You have probably adopted many of your processes over time to fit the system without even realizing it.) 

And though you can’t see it happening in real-time, your old apps are falling apart right before your eyes. Here’s how you can tell:

  • It’s slow; running reports, exporting files, and using the interface all take too long
  • Updates are scarce; they negatively  impact your productivity 
  • There is no cloud connectivity— you’re tied to the desktop
  • New employees complain about all the things it can’t do
  • The support team is essentially non-existent
  • You’ve given up thinking you can grow your business with it

It’s not that you haven’t noticed the ever-growing list of negatives; you’ve simply looked past them. Why? Because your legacy system feels just comfortable enough.

There’s a real danger in that type of comfort: you tie yourself to processes that only work with outdated software systems. Since your system doesn’t integrate with anything else, your operations become fractured. You lose the type of transparency and data interpretation capabilities that characterize most businesses today.

Simply put, you’re behind the times. In a situation like that, it’s impossible to think clearly about the future. One day soon, your legacy software system will move from being outdated to being completely obsolete. And unless you’re prepared for the next steps, there’s not really much you can do about it.

Agility and Competition

There are deeper concerns about working on legacy apps than just process time and growth impediments. From an IT perspective, software systems that exist outside of the cloud can pose serious security risks. IBM (via AltextSoft) estimates that the average cost of a data breach is $4 million.

It gets worse. In a TechCrunch interview, COO of Docker noted that “companies are spending up to 80 percent of their IT budgets supporting… legacy applications.” Think about how a cloud-based, fully supported app can help you reallocate that budget.

Numbers aside, the companies who figure out how to stay agile and competitive in a changing business environment will succeed. Software systems play an increasingly important role in that process.

Moving Away From a Legacy System

Even if you love your old software system, saying goodbye to it might actually be the easiest part of your journey forward. You need something new, but the products at your disposal have only multiplied. At first glance, none of them are likely to suit your exact needs. Treat that feeling as an opportunity, rather than a deterrent. And start preparing to find a solution.

Here are some quick tips for doing so:

Talk to other business owners and executives.

See what software systems other people are using and whether they’re happy. Ask about support, functionality, and longevity. Ideally, you want a business management software that will be around for a long time to come— it’s the best insurance against the current problems you’re having.

Work With a Consultant

Depending on how complex your business operations are, it may be beneficial to hire a business technology consultant. You want to look for a group that implements multiple products, has many years of experience, and isn’t just trying to sell you something. At their best, consultants value their own reputation and will only point you toward the best solutions. You’ll know the right ones when you see them.

Do Your Own Research

As you sift through the opinions of others, it’s always good to get some first-hand experience with software systems. If you’re looking for an ERP or an all-in-one software solution, there’s no substitute for getting on the phone with a technology advisor and asking some questions. You’ll quickly get a feeling for their communication style and find out whether you’ll get the answers you’re looking for.


Unlike your old pair of jeans, you’re going to have significantly fewer fond memories of your software once it stops working for you. The discomfort will feel all-too-real, and the money you’re losing in upkeep doesn’t help, either.

But if you’re looking to grow and get more competitive, the way software systems handle your operations is about much more than comfort. They’re about the vitality and future of your business. Importantly (and sadly for this metaphor), you’ll end up taking this process much more seriously than your favorite old pair of pants.