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Why legacy IT systems that do not integrate well can’t effectively support remote working

In the past, the professional services industries have been resistant to change and new technologies, but firms worldwide now know they have to accept the need for digital transformation if they are to keep up with the competition. New technology adoption can be expensive and time-consuming, and there can be frustrations over teams getting used to new systems. But if there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it is that outdated legacy systems are failing us. They can’t support remote working as well as they need to, and as remote working is here to stay, this is going to be a major issue for many firms. In many cases holding on to old systems actually ends up costing more in terms of data security, lack of integration, poor data management, and, most importantly, the inhibition of scalability and growth. Global research organization, SPI, states in their 2022 report, "top performing organizations accelerated their IT expenditures, reinvesting facility, and business expense savings in replacing legacy business applications."

Click to read Leaving legacy behind to build business resilience (gated)

Legacy systems and remote working

When businesses closed their physical locations in the Spring of 2020, there was little time to prepare for the shift to remote working, and many IT teams struggled to cater to the fundamental needs of their colleagues. Now, almost three years later, those companies that are still using legacy systems are limiting the powers of their staff when remote working. The systems are inflexible, not resilient, and usually require extensive customizations to enable the functionalities needed for home working. According to the 2022 PAC report, “almost three-quarters (71%) of professional services firms view dependence on legacy applications as a primary barrier to driving innovation in their organizations.”

With staff and clients working remotely, there has been an increase in the complexity of projects which have become more challenging to manage effectively. It has become harder to meet project milestones and satisfy client demands.

Organizations that do not have the technology to support remote working have struggled to adapt and operate effectively. Their legacy systems don’t maximize the gains that can be made from home working.

The cost of sticking with a legacy system

The cost of maintaining a legacy ERP system over five years can often exceed the cost of a replacement cloud ERP system, and customers that seek to reduce the number of on-premise licenses will face an uphill battle with legacy vendors on maintenance costs. Legacy vendors will also expect to grow their accounts with upgrades and the sale of more modules to show revenue growth, so technology and procurement leaders must find business value in upgrades.

Customizations for legacy systems may exceed the cost of an out-the-box system. To avoid development and ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, tech leaders need to understand the capabilities that are absolutely essential to their organization so they can source an out-the-box system that caters to their needs.

A single source of truth

Legacy systems tend to be fragmented and rely on spreadsheets and databases that are not integrated and, therefore, are prone to input errors. Organizations with no central data repository face severe limitations in their ability to gain insights from their data. Relying on legacy IT for the management of data and critical organizational and service delivery processes has the potential to drive up costs. It highlights the importance of the right infrastructure and processes to make the most of data, resources, and the knowledge and expertise of people.

However, having a single source of data truth isn’t the only reason replacing legacy systems is becoming a top priority. Legacy IT often creates more problems than those that it solves. It can create security issues, is not good value for money, and it can create barriers to the effective and regulatorily compliant use of data. It can also have a major impact on staff demoralization, frustration, engagement, and dissatisfaction among the people using it.

Leaving legacy IT behind

It is not possible to buy in new solutions and attempt to integrate them into an existing ecosystem that isn’t fit for purpose. Organizations need to rethink their strategies around IT purchasing. The rise of public cloud solutions has made the pay-per-use SaaS model of IT delivery far more cost-effective, efficient, and secure (in many cases) than traditional on-premise solutions.

How Unit4 can help professional service organizations overcome the legacy of legacy IT

At Unit4, we’ve been creating technology solutions specifically for professional services organizations for 40 years. This, combined with our expertise and considerable knowledge base, means we can not only provide solutions that are fit for the needs of an organization that relies on the expertise of its people to ensure a high-quality service delivery; but that we can implement them and help you realize time to value faster than typical IT implementation projects.

Our recently launched next-generation ERP platform, ERPx, is both fully cloud-based and constructed with the efficiency of costing and scaling in mind. It’s built around a microservices architecture that leverages recent advances in AI to build intelligent automation into every process your organization relies on to succeed. Relieving your people of much of the burden of admin and providing them with a single source of truth for everything that happens within their shared working environment – letting them focus on the jobs they were hired to do for increased engagement and productivity.

Head over to our new webpage: outdated ERP systems, to learn what sets Unit4 apart, how easy it is to switch, and what you could achieve, along with what the expert analysts have to say.

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