Project Management

The Pain of Legacy Systems

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Sharing Insights from my Professional life , where I have been a Sales Engineer, A Health Professional and now , a Project Management Professional. These blogs encompass my observations or experiences. They may be regarding the Projects that I have led or been a part of or something close to our daily lives like Mindfulness and health which may affect our productivity as Project Managers.

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We have all come across Computer Systems in our workplace that have been collecting cobwebs since time immemorial.

Management comes and goes , but that squeaky wheel in the corner continues to turn. The legacy system has innumerable problems:-

  1. It is bandaged, resuscitated from the dead and continues to perform critical business functions like Payroll , Quality Management or Finance.
  2. It has undergone that many version changes and upgrades, there is no documentation that can clearly explain the functions of this system.
  3. The system has metamorphosed into something that it wasn't intended to be doing in the first place.
  4. Hundreds of thousands of dollars are paid every year in support , maintenance and employee salaries to keep this system running.
  5. It is extremely difficult to produce reports out of this system because it's built using archaic code that no current employee has knowledge of or the vendor smartly chose not to expose any APIs.

There can be myriad number of reasons why the company is in this situation:-

  1. The management of the company endorses this system and their "favorite" employee has developed it in-house or has been instrumental in bringing this Vendor/system in-house and is still with the company after 30 years.
  2. In the company's culture there is a strong resistance to change
  3. 20 employees are on the payroll because of this application and they justify pretty strongly , their existence through a lobbyist, who perhaps sits in the higher management of this company and quashes any attempts to upgrade or change.
  4. Previous attempts at upgrading or replacing the system have failed or have been made to fail.
  5. Due to the lack of in-house technical experts, the vendor  has been milking this company for many years and this company has been made to realize that there is no better option out there in the market.
  6. There is a fear that the Business may stop functioning if this system breaks down so every effort is made to keep this system running.

Other departments in this company desperately struggle and build point solutions to take away the sting from this all important system , thereby costing this company zillions of dollars which could have been easily avoided if the right hand knew what the left hand was doing  by implementing a consolidated ERP system.

There are silos, duplication of data, customer dissatisfaction until one day a meteorite that falls and everything grinds to a halt.

We have all attempted to highlight this scenario and escalate it to management but it seems to fall into deaf ears.

We continue collecting our daily pay package, go back home to our loved ones , hoping that something different may dawn upon us the following day.

Posted on: December 11, 2017 08:17 PM | Permalink

Comments (6)

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Enjoyed reading the post, Deepesh :) Made me chuckle. It is so true! When new systems are implemented, there should be a lifespan determined so replacement activities can begin prior to the need to sunset it. Lotus Notes anyone!

I laughed when someone told me that it was not politically correct to say "legacy systems". Apparently, we now have to call them "heritage systems".

I hear you, and I'm also dealing with legacy systems built in the late 60'sand early 70's. Good article and thanks for sharing.

I agree, Thanks for sharing

great article, thank you

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