How To Safely Replace Legacy ERP Software: 3 Practical Tips

Anna Lvovskaya
Nov 7, 2019 · 5 min read
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Software can become a legacy in many ways. Sometimes the company simply can’t update the software any more and its architecture doesn’t allow adding new features or altering them. Or there could be a lack of vision for a particular product from the beginning, and it continually evolves based on the conflicting demands of multiple customers.

Business requirements evolve, new distribution or production models emerge — as a result, a solution that should be capable of handling important business tasks becomes hopelessly outdated and unmaintainable. Today we will talk about escaping this situation and moving from legacy products to a fresh new start.

Why it is hard to replace legacy

First of all, it is true to say that no software is developed with the goal of it becoming a legacy. No, these projects are often driven by enthusiasm, and the desire to complete business-critical tasks. It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment promising software becomes obscure and requires more and more resources to maintain.

Also, legacy software is characterized by being built on outdated tech, but it is often “critical to day-to-end operations.” This means you can’t just switch one system off, enabling another one in the process. Take ERP as an example — this type of software fuels lots of business processes in any given company. It becomes customized over many years, and its development may cost millions.

So, you need to be brave enough to decide to make the switch. But you have to be if you want to unlock the full potential of new technologies for successful business development.

Biggest challenges of legacy software

Switching between two different enterprise-level solutions is hard, so businesses are always full of concerns and doubts. First of all, they need to understand whether the particular system’s lifecycle is nearing its end, or they can live with it for some more time.

To evaluate, your customers need to answer several questions. First of all, they need to compare the cost-effectiveness of their current system versus the potential new tool. Is it easy enough to maintain the existing software? How many employees are needed to run it, and is there a recovery plan in place for when all of those who know the system retire or leave?

Another set of questions should be connected to risk. Is the system compliant to modern standards, including those regulators strictly monitor? For ISV, it’s important to ensure customers that they are still supporting the software and regularly issuing security patches. It is hard to safeguard company’s infrastructure appropriately if they use the unsupported software with more and more security holes found over time. In such a case, there’s a risk to face the constant threat of breaches, data loss, and problems with customers and regulators.

Legacy systems are also usually hard to integrate with modern tech. So, you need to understand whether your software can cope with current trends like the internet of things or mobile growth. If you can bundle your solution with modern technologies, then you are safe to live with it for a little more time. However, if not, you are losing business development opportunities and failing to provide your customers and internal users with the best possible experience.

How to switch from legacy software correctly

In this section, we will share practical advice on switching from legacy software. Tips are based on our practical experience of working on projects where ISVs helped businesses to move from outdates systems to 1C:Enterprise-based applications.

One of our partners in Italy decided to switch his customers from their legacy ERP to a modern one. This legacy system was outdated and hard to support. Each of his customers had unique requirements and each of these new features had associated costs, even the tiniest ones. This was a turning point that forced the partner to switch systems. The new software should allow seamless and cost-effective customization for every new customer. This is extremely important when you have to provide changes both for the existing client base and for the new one.

And, of course, in order to keep the migration period brief, it was essential to be able to use all the core ERP modules right away with the most critical functionality included in the basic build. Also, the partner was required to provide almost instant integration with the accounting system to ensure business continuity.

The 1C:Enterprise solution was chosen for several reasons. Firstly, the platform includes business-critical features which are enacted right away. Secondly, it can be easily integrated with other business applications. Thirdly, due to a rich built-in object library, the customization process is fast and efficient. This resulted in significant cost-reductions when moving from supporting the legacy system to the new software.

One of the biggest drawbacks of a legacy system is the amount of time you need to spend tuning and supporting it. If your new software requires lots of time to be spent on implementation and training the tech team, why bother switching?

One of our customers — an IT integration company from Spain — lived with its Delphi-based ERP for many years. Finally, the company realized that its system had become legacy and required too much effort to support it, keep it up to date, and amplify it. Prior analysis has shown that the process of switching makes sense if it takes no longer than 6 months.

1C:Enterprise is an easy-to-learn system, which can be grasped in 2–3 months. After that period, technical specialists will be able to create their own add-ons and participate in the implementation product. Our partner chose four developers out of a team of ten to study the 1C:Enterprise platform. This way, while existing customers were supported by the rest of the team, within four months new customers had been onboarded onto the new product. And within six months they had started the migration of existing customers.

Usually, it is hard to scale legacy systems; their development is costly and takes a lot of effort. So, before switching to new software, you should assess its scalability. For example, if it can be deployed in the cloud, it is much easier to support and deliver updates to all users.

Also, every modern company uses a set of essential business applications and hardware. If you can’t integrate your new system with this toolkit, then overall efficiency significantly decreases. This is why we at 1Ci make our software compatible with multiple business applications and provide ways to bundle it with popular products.

Final thoughts

Legacy software can become a massive problem for your clients’ business as it limits growth, burns resources, and poses security and regulatory risks. Although switching to a new solution may be hard and not always a pleasant process, the result is well worth the effort.

The critical success element here is to make the right decision on new software. Today we’ve outlined some practical tips that will help you in completing this task.

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