Should You Replace or Maintain Your Legacy System?

As CIO, eventually you will face the decision of whether to replace or maintain your legacy system. Outdated hardware, rising security threats, and digital transformation goals might propel you toward a replacement. On the other hand, proven reliability and ROI issues may make maintaining your current system the better option. Not wanting to stifle innovation efforts and competing financial needs make this decision a challenging one.

The key to making this impactful decision is to understand which systems might be hindering organizational performance as well as those opportunities that may increase efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Let us take a look at the benefits of maintaining versus replacing your IT legacy system.

The Case to Replace

Several reasons make replacing legacy systems a smart move. Most importantly, the system should be replaced if it creates a security risk. Significant security vulnerabilities can stop an organization dead in its tracks. You may not be able to patch some legacy systems if vendors do not release new patches, for example.

Another must-replace scenario is when the legacy system carries a high risk of failure. For instance, if the system has no vendor support, is highly customized without thorough documentation, or was created with obsolete programming languages, replacement may be your only option.

A pricey system is yet another reason to make a switch. All systems incur costs, but if the maintenance costs exceed their business value, it is time to replace them. Avoid letting the cost of upkeep hinder innovation by calculating whether the system is approaching or has surpassed its total value.

Finally, replacement is ideal when the system no longer supports your organization’s future goals. What is the vision for your company? CIOs should place their focus here when determining a modernization strategy. If the current system will hinder company growth, it is time to move on.

Stay the Course and Maintain

If replacement does not align with your strategic goals, the right circumstances can make legacy system maintenance the better choice for your company. For example, the current system may meet your organization’s needs without limiting its competitiveness. The extra workload of replacing legacy systems with upgrades, such as AI functionality, that your team is not ready to use may not be worth it.

All systems carry certain risks, and keeping your current system makes sense if it has an acceptable level of risk. Perhaps the system is only used for noncritical back-office tasks. Or, you have access to the talent required to keep it running. These conditions may make replacement a lower priority.

Finally, maintaining the current system may be ideal if some of its priorities can be moved to other systems or discontinued. If the legacy system does not fit into the company’s long-term strategy, or if the processes it supports will be sunsetted, maintaining the system can keep valuable resources accessible without added cost. Replacing a system your organization will not need on a regular basis is not cost-effective, and you should allocate resources elsewhere.

To wrap up, the answer to whether to replace or maintain a legacy system is like many decisions – it depends. Both options offer benefits, but ROI will always be a driving force in your ultimate choice. Key Concepts Knowledgebase’s expert CIO services can assist you in making challenging decisions such as this. Reach out to discuss your IT goals and  questions – we’re here to help.


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