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Assessing Legacy Systems: Why Bother?

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            One question most manufacturers want an affirmative answer to is: “Do you have transparent visibility into your inventory and sales process?” Far too frequently, the answer is “no.” That’s because many manufacturers are operating with legacy systems that have been in place for years. Not surprisingly, they provide an obscure overview of their current inventory management needs. What manufacturers may not realize is the “aha” factor (clear visibility) they will discover as a result of conducting an assessment of their obsolete hardware. For example, there are migration tools that can assist in moving a legacy system to a new environment, one that adapts the system to new business requirements and regularly maintains its inner workings.

            Long considered the backbone that supports the information flow in an organization, legacy systems have serviced manufacturers for decades. And, these systems have become the organization’s backbone, which is why it’s natural for manufacturers to question the need for change. Why fix what’s not broken, right? It’s an understandable position from a corporate lifer who has become comfortable with the muddled picture. Our question is, “Wouldn’t you at least like to see what could come from witnessing a crystal clear panoramic view?”

Obstacles

            In many cases, denial that there is a problem comes from lack of experience. It’s difficult to miss the benefits from new information and opportunities if you’ve never experienced these in the first place. Other reluctances come into play from employees’ natural tendency toward job protection. They’re the ones who glare at the suits hired to assess the efficiency of their system and inevitably say, “I’ve been at this job for 30 years and never had a problem.” The reality is that their legacy systems were installed with the understanding that they would pave the way for new standards that would follow them. Stated differently, holding onto outmoded machines that are slow and costly to maintain stifles natural progress.

            The often-unshakable attitude embraced by these corporate lifers isn’t the only obstacle to overcome during the assessment of a legacy system. Over time, it’s been hard to define—and yet even harder to dismiss—but it’s apparent that a notable leadership drain is affecting industries across corporate America. Over the years, it’s evolved into a state of tribal imbalance and diminished confidence throughout organizations. The incongruity is mostly visible among those who are responsible for legacy systems. They’re suffering from an absence of knowledge, causing them to remain misinformed from the lack of visibility into their process. Naturally, because so many manufacturers have decided to figure things out on their own, misjudgments abound.

Technology assessments

            The good news is that manufacturers that engage in a formal assessment of their legacy systems will see opportunities for positive change. Sometimes the recommendations will not include the need to replace a system, but rather suggestions that will guide operations toward a more efficient process, customized to its unique circumstances. The process might be lengthy, but the outcome sets up the company for a more prosperous future. Suddenly key decisions will be made with more certainty because, finally, there will be a window into the process.