How to update your legacy software system without it costing the earth
If you’re sick of slow, buggy software and huge maintenance costs, and you’ve finally decided to update your legacy software system, congratulations!
Once you’ve decided that it’s time for a change, the next step is figuring out exactly how this update will happen, and how you’ll keep the costs under control.
Most business owners are already aware of the many benefits of modern software, but some of the reasons they choose not to upgrade include the costs involved, the expected workflow disruptions, and the steep learning curve.
These objections are all valid. Unfortunately, the costs of not updating your software will eventually far outweigh these concerns, and there are a few ways you can make sure your legacy software update is as smooth and cost-effective as possible:
The first step is to consider the features and applications you’ll need for your business to function smoothly and easily adapt in the future.
Encourage input from all employees, so you can understand which functions will make their lives easier and improve their workflow, and which functions they can live without.
It can be tempting to introduce a variety of new applications and features, but this can mean more time in development, higher costs, and functions that are rarely (if ever) used.
Know your costs
Often, the upfront investment for a legacy software system upgrade can seem enormous. And there’s no getting around the fact that updating your system is going to cost a big chunk of change (particularly if you’re still using legacy software from the early 90’s). But it’s a good idea to analyse how much you’re currently spending on maintaining your legacy software system, so you can compare this to the upfront cost of a software upgrade.
To work this out, ask your staff to give you an honest estimate of the amount of time they spent keeping your legacy system running during the previous month. This is usually a time-consuming task, and when one area is changed, it often causes another area to break. Not only does this frustrate your employees, but this is time that could be spent growing your business.
Next, ask for a quote from the software development company you’ve chosen for the update. Divide this number by your monthly legacy maintenance costs, and this will be the number of months it will take for you to “break even”, with the upfront cost of updating your legacy software.
Choose the right software development company
If you want excellent software without going well over budget, it’s important to find a software development company that you can trust. You need developers who will spend time learning about your business, brainstorming ideas, and answering your questions and concerns, so that you can choose the best software options for your needs.
Choose a software development company that’s experienced with updating legacy software systems and has a reputation for delivering excellent service. Ask if they have a policy in place for maintenance and support, and ensure that they’re upfront with you about how much you can expect to pay, and how long the development process will take.
Think about training
One of the biggest mistakes a company can make is forgetting to make allowances for the training investment required when updating legacy software. A survey by SoftwareInsider found that when asked about the most important factor when purchasing software for their business, most buyers focused on the price, and ease of use was their last priority.
Your employees are going to be the ones using the software every day, so if you include them in the decision making-process, they’ll be excited about the benefits of the new software and will be willing to devote their time to learning how it works when training starts.
The goal is to get employees completely up to speed with the new software as quickly as possible, so they can get back to work and you won’t be losing productive hours to training time. For this reason, consider online training if your employees are located in different regions, and ensure that employees are only trained in the features that are relevant to them and their work.
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