Legacy Software: How To Tell If Your Software Needs Replacing
Software rarely reaches the end of its life quickly. Just like an old car that is slowly on the way out, applications break intermittently and in stages before they finally sink to their knees and wave a white flag.
In business, it isn’t always immediately obvious when a tool that is relied on daily begins to fail. We’ll put up with the tired, grinding cogs that occasionally make us curse and, whenever a new starter questions the efficacy of the application in question, we’re more likely to nod wearily and say, “yep, it always does that”, than take action.
And that’s fair enough. Replacing business software is time consuming and expensive. Isn’t it?
Good news: it doesn’t have to be. Bad news: if you’re holding onto an old piece of business software that may ring the final death knell at any moment, you’re risking an awful lot more than the investment required to replace it.
Here’s how you can tell if your software needs replacing.
What Is Legacy Software?
Legacy software is an application that is no longer updated or supported by the developer. Likewise, software can become legacy if the developer’s operation ceases or if they are bought by another entity that decides to throw it out.
If the withdrawal of support and development is planned, most vendors will notify users and give them plenty of time to switch systems or upgrade, with preference inevitably given to the latter if the software in question has been superseded by a newer version.
But how can you spot the early warning signs?
It Regularly Grinds To A Halt
As noted earlier, if the immortal phrase “it always does that” is uttered regularly throughout the working day and aimed squarely at a software application, chances are its best days may be well and truly over.
There are often mitigating factors that cause software to grind to a halt or crash regularly. Poor hardware, inefficient networks and conflicting applications are common examples, but if you’re running a state-of-the-art or lean I.T. infrastructure and one application in particular keeps falling over, the software is more likely to blame.
Old code and database architecture are the most common culprits. If your software runs on Delphi, Microsoft Access or Borland C++, it needs replacing.
Support Has Ceased
Business software has always benefitted from some form of support, whether it be telephone-based or of the call-out variety, and despite modern apps requiring far less servicing from vendors, the inability to call on someone when something goes wrong can be highly problematic.
Equally, if business software is no longer updated, it’ll be susceptible to new forms of malware and fail to make the most of modern hardware and devices.
If you’ve received an email from your vendor which announces a date for the end of support, you’d be wise to start seeking a replacement ASAP.
You Can’t Access It From Mobile Devices
The modern workforce is mobile and rarely tied to a single desk. Modern software is just the same. Most business applications are now web-based, paid for monthly and built to be compatible on a huge range of devices. This is known as ‘software as a service’ (SaaS).
If the software you rely on most regularly can’t be easily accessed on smartphones and tablets, you’ll be missing significant opportunities to boost the productivity of your workforce. You may also be paying over the odds for software licences if they are tied to particular computers.
SaaS software is lithe, portable, more user-centric and far more budget-friendly when it comes to licensing.
You’re Having To Maintain An Expensive, Large Server
Just as SaaS software is portable, so to is it less demanding on server requirements. Modern apps are often hosted by the vendor and simply accessed via an Internet connection. If your business software relies on a huge server you purchased ten years ago that carries its own maintenance contract, it’s time to look for alternatives.
Server rooms in most businesses are somewhat smaller than they used to be – and for good reason.
New Staff Are Struggling With It
If new staff are struggling to get to grips with a particular application your business relies on, don’t assume it’s down to a lack of training or engagement on their part. Have a chat with them and find out what’s wrong. Words like ‘intuitive’, ‘slow’ and ‘unfamiliar’ may hint at legacy software that needs to be replaced.
Technology now plays a central role in people’s lives and, as a result, most employees are far more tech literate than they used to be. They’re used to smartphone apps that can be used without an instruction manual and user interface design that is eminently approachable.
Training issues aside, if new staff hate using your software, it pays to look a little deeper.
Legacy software can be a silent company killer that builds up momentum by failing gradually. Use the tips in this post to hunt down applications within your organisation that are nearing the end of their life and remove them, before the task of doing so becomes too cumbersome.