How to upgrade your legacy systems

How to upgrade your legacy systems
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When it comes to keeping a business’s processes working efficiently, it becomes essential to address legacy systems, in particular when they reach end of life. There a number of different approaches that business’s can take to reform their legacy systems; we tend to follow four methods depending on the stage and status of the existing framework, in order to achieve the greatest output.

In this article I will address the case where a legacy system that has reached end of life is fundamentally no longer fit-for-purpose, hugely inefficient or obsolete. In this case, where a package system does not match the business requirements, and an iterative, agile approach is preferred, finding the correct software development partner is business critical.

To best explain how to upgrade your legacy systems, I’m going to set out the process we followed for global manufacturer AESSEAL, as part of an ongoing collaborative partnership to rebuild and improve it’s systems.

Upgrading AESSEAL's legacy systems

AESSEAL is a global mechanical seals manufacturer employing 1,700 people across 104 countries and with annual sales of £160m. With the company’s scale came its inevitable challenges.

As the Group IT Director explained to us, the business was reliant on a number of disparate legacy systems that had reached end of life, having little central management or control. At its simplest, this lack of knowledge management between business functions meant that sales, engineering and management weren’t working to their full efficiency.

Importantly, while the company could have chosen to simply integrate its legacy systems in isolation, it identified that a comprehensive overhaul was the best approach to maximising the efficiency and longevity of its business processes.

Bespoke software development

Due to the complex and specialised nature of the project’s requirements, AESSEAL opted for bespoke software development, as opposed to adapting a package software system. The company also knew its requirements would evolve and change over time, meaning that only an agile software development methodology would achieve its aims.

As part of our ongoing partnership, the bespoke software solution was developed iteratively, aggregating modules at each stage of the process and combining AESSEAL’s domain expertise with our technological expertise. Together we identified three core requirements for the platform – global knowledge management, data warehousing, and sales and marketing

The knowledge management solution we produced is built upon these three core modules. It allows AESSEAL to intelligently map customer sites, as well as gather data from sealing maintenance operations. It also enables engineering and sales teams to produce bespoke proposals while onsite with customers, reducing lead times from hours to minutes.

These functions meant that the system helped one of AESSEAL’s customers drastically reduce its spare component stock, simply by standardising its seals.

The result? The launch of an innovative and scalable software platform which has significantly increased the company’s ability to respond to customer inquiries and vastly reduced the resource required.

It can often be difficult to define a clear scope and strategy when the decision has been made to rebuild legacy systems, so it’s vital to have the right technology partner to solve those problems, and ultimately deliver a solution that supports growth plans and increases competitive advantage.

For related reading, view how to integrate your legacy systems.