After several decades in the software industry, I’ve reached a simple conclusion: Many business owners consciously choose to run their companies on really old software. Even after better solutions evolve, they hang on to legacy systems for as long as possible. (Yes, we still get calls from folks seeking support for programs written in the 1980’s.)

Why would they entrust core business processes to an aging software infrastructure?

The Rationale

Here is some of their reasoning:

“Our custom software has been a great asset for many years. It’s tailored to the way we do business, and has run flawlessly for a long time. Why fix something that ain’t broke?”

“Our software application is huge. Its modules span hundreds of thousands of lines of code. Migrating to newer software would be a colossal challenge.”

“Our people are comfortable with the software we already have. Training them on a new system would take time. We don’t want to disrupt our normal workflow.”

Migrating to newer software can present serious challenges. So I’m not surprised when companies hesitate. Even when yesterday’s coding no longer meets today’s demands. Even when old software requires an outdated operating system to stay alive.

Another Approach

The best solution doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

How about this approach: one byte at a time.

In other words, migrate smaller, more manageable chunks of your legacy application over a longer time period. This method offers several advantages:

  • Rolling out incremental changes lets you see results more quickly. Incremental updates won’t upset your operations nearly as much as larger ones could.
  • Smaller updates introduce change to your employees at a slower pace. As a result, they’ll have time to get comfortable with the change. They’ll likely recognize the benefits as well.
  • When you migrate gradually, you’ll spread out the cost over a longer period of time.
  • Taking smaller steps gives you a chance to evaluate a software developer. It lets you see how well they understand your needs. Plus, you’ll find out how well they grasp your vision right away–rather than months later.

We get it: you have a life outside the workplace. It’s understandable why you might postpone adding yet another project to your busy schedule. But hardware and operating systems continue to evolve. The day will come when 40-year-old software won’t support your core business operations any longer. So it’s wise to start planning now, rather than waiting until you have fewer options.

If you’d like help evaluating how best to migrate your software application, please contact us.

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