Digital Transformation: Dealing with legacy systems

Over the years I’ve noticed that one of the most significant challenges faced by Owner-Managed Businesses (OMBs) is dealing with legacy systems and processes that can hinder the adoption of new technologies. These legacy issues can take many forms, from outdated software and hardware to entrenched business practices and organisational silos. Left unaddressed, they can create significant barriers to digital transformation and limit the ability of OMBs to compete in an increasingly digital world.

The impact of legacy systems and processes can be felt across the organisation. They can slow down decision-making, limit access to data and insights, and create compatibility issues with new technologies. They can also be expensive to maintain and upgrade, draining resources that could be better spent on innovation and growth. For OMBs, which often have limited budgets and IT expertise, the challenge can be particularly acute.

So, how can OMBs overcome this challenge and modernise their legacy systems and processes? Here are a few innovative solutions to consider:

  1. Conduct a comprehensive assessment: The first step in addressing legacy issues is to conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the organisation’s technology and processes. This may involve mapping out the IT architecture, identifying key systems and data flows, and evaluating the effectiveness of current practices. By gaining a clear understanding of the current state, OMBs can identify areas for improvement and prioritise initiatives that will deliver the greatest impact.
  2. Embrace cloud computing: One of the most effective ways to modernise legacy systems is to embrace cloud computing. By moving applications and data to the cloud, OMBs can reduce their reliance on outdated hardware and software, improve scalability and flexibility, and gain access to advanced features and functionalities. Cloud computing can also help to reduce IT costs and improve collaboration and communication across the organisation.
  3. Adopt a modular approach: Another innovative solution is to adopt a modular approach to digital transformation. Rather than trying to replace legacy systems all at once, OMBs can break the process down into smaller, more manageable components. For example, they may start by modernising a specific business process or application, such as customer relationship management or financial reporting. By taking a modular approach, OMBs can reduce risk, minimise disruption, and deliver value incrementally over time.
  4. Leverage low-code and no-code platforms: For OMBs with limited IT expertise, low-code and no-code platforms can be a game-changer. These platforms allow users to create custom applications and workflows without the need for extensive programming knowledge. By leveraging these tools, OMBs can quickly and easily modernise legacy processes and systems, while also empowering business users to take a more active role in digital transformation.
  5. Foster a culture of continuous improvement: Finally, to truly modernise legacy systems and processes, OMBs need to foster a culture of continuous improvement. This means encouraging experimentation, embracing failure as a learning opportunity, and constantly seeking out new ways to optimise and streamline operations. By making continuous improvement a core part of the company culture, OMBs can ensure that their digital transformation efforts remain relevant and impactful over time.

One example of an OMB that successfully modernised its legacy systems is a small manufacturing company that had been relying on outdated inventory management software for years. By conducting a comprehensive assessment of its current systems and processes, the company was able to identify opportunities to streamline operations and improve efficiency. It then worked with a cloud-based inventory management provider to migrate its data and processes to a modern, scalable platform. The result was a 30% reduction in inventory costs and a 50% improvement in order fulfilment times.

Another example is a professional services firm that had been struggling with a legacy customer relationship management (CRM) system that was difficult to use and maintain. By adopting a low-code CRM platform, the firm was able to quickly and easily modernise its customer management processes, while also empowering its staff to create custom workflows and automations. The result was a 20% increase in customer retention and a 15% increase in revenue per client.

At the end of the day, legacy systems and processes can be a significant barrier to digital transformation for OMBs. However, by conducting a comprehensive assessment, embracing cloud computing, adopting a modular approach, leveraging low-code and no-code platforms, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, OMBs can overcome this challenge and modernise their operations for the digital age. With the right approach and tools, OMBs can unlock new opportunities for growth, efficiency, and competitiveness in an increasingly digital world.

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Disclaimer (as of 01/07/2024): This article has been prepared for information purposes only as of the stated date. The information provided may not be relevant or accurate for any other date. Formal professional advice is strongly recommended before making decisions on the topics discussed in this release. No responsibility for any loss to any person acting, or not acting, as a result of this release can be accepted by us, or any person affiliated with us.

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