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Four options for managing legacy systems – the pros and cons

There will come a point, in most IT departments, where legacy systems will become a nuisance. But this can be resolved with a bit of guidance.

In fact, all it takes is an evaluation of how complex your IT environment really is, and from here, you will be able to determine which of the following solutions is most fitting. We take a look at the pros and cons of each solution so you can measure how this will fit into your department.

1. Decommission the system

Although it is rare, a legacy system won’t always be required due to structural changes such as an acquisition. Decommissioning the system is therefore an option.


  • Decommissioning the system can be done with minimal cost and resources.


  • Before going ahead with this, it is imperative that firstly nothing relies on the system.
  • A restoration plan must be put into place, to account for mistakes in the assessment process.
  • Training may be required to ensure that everyone involved fully understands the process and reasons behind the decommission.

2. Re-write in a new technology

Although it can be an intimidating task to instigate a re-write, for most situations the pros will outweigh the cons:


  • Opportunity to highlight and correct problems.
  • Freedom to add new features which would further build on your competitive advantage (which weren’t previously possible due to design issues or lack of knowledge).
  • Convenience of a modern technology, making it easier and more cost effective to support and maintain.


  • A large investment which will require tight budget control.
  • User training will be required to use the new system.
  • Staff resources will need utilising for effective project management.

3. Migrate to a packaged application

A reassessment of your business requirements may establish that a packaged solution could adequately meet your needs. Here are the arguments for this solution:


  • Less work will be involved and the system should be well supported.
  • The legacy system will be completely removed.
  • You will benefit from future package upgrades.


  • You may have to adjust business processes to suitably accommodate the system.
  • Scalability may be restricted.
  • Integration with other systems could be difficult.
  • You won’t own the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) preventing further development and the opportunity to potentially sell the systems to other businesses as an alternative revenue stream.

4. Maintain the existing system for the foreseeable future

Should your system be likely to be decommissioned in the near future, this could be an ideal solution. Here’s why:


  • No or limited expenditure involved.
  • If the evaluation doesn’t highlight any glaring issues the risks are minimal as nothing will change during the interim period.


  • In-house skills to maintain the system may be limited, putting the business at risk.
  • If business needs change or the timescales for decommissioning the system are extended, the system may fail to meet requirements.

Talk to us to discover how we can help you overcome the issues of legacy systems.

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