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11.01.19

It’s time to say goodbye…
to your legacy system

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By UPsafety Team Member:
Kristina Morris of United Public Safety

We’ve all encountered those people. In fact, to some extent, I think we’ve all been one of those people, and maybe still are. You know, the ones who don’t want to alter the way things are done.

Those are the people that are used to doing things way they have always been done. Or, they are concerned the new way won’t meet their needs. Or, they are worried that it will make their lives or jobs harder. This same issue always seems to crop up no matter the institution: customers and even employees within one’s own organization are hesitant to accept change and let go of a system or software that no longer serves its purpose to the extent it should.

I get it. Change can often be difficult to embrace, and it can be terrifying. But the thing is, these worries should not come at the cost of you or your organization missing out on a product that provides a more robust solution and superior overall experience. Let’s face it - if you are considering a shift to something new, more than likely it is because you have already identified some significant pain-points with your existing infrastructure.

If you and your organization are caught waffling between sticking with the familiar or trying something else, why not sit down to evaluate each option? Obviously, each workplace will have some of its own unique concerns, and the weight of import for each concern will also differ, but there are several globally relevant questions (especially within the enforcement industry) you can start with:

If you and your organization are caught waffling between sticking with the familiar or trying something else, why not sit down to evaluate each option?

  • What are the financial costs of each option?

    What is the total cost of ownership? Are the monthly expenses predictable? Do the value and benefits of the product justify its price?
  • How risky is each option?

    How secure is the system? Does it meet/exceed regulatory compliance? Are there enough contingencies in place to account for disaster recovery needs? What is each systems’ respective SLA (Service Level Availability)? Perhaps more importantly, does each meet/exceed regulatory compliance, have a disaster recovery plan, and SLA?
  • Can either product evolve easily?

    Is it flexible enough to allow integration with modern software systems? Is it simple to add new functions to the product? Can it easily support and adapt to new and growing business needs or complexities? Ask the product vendors to supply the most recent changelogs for their products and note the dates as well as content.
  • How useful is each option?

    Does it offer a modern, easy-to-navigate user interface with a responsive design? Does it solve all or most of your concerns? How many convenient and helpful features does the product have?
  • Does it help maximize productivity?

    Can you access it from any device at any time? Does it automate workflow and facilitate information sharing? Does it require extensive training and/or special skills to be used effectively?
  • How simple is it for your staff and patrons to use?

    Does it work in multiple languages? How fast and efficient is the system? How large is the risk of user error? What is done by the product vendors to thwart potential user errors?

Sometimes, people just need that push to get past their fears so they can realize the benefits a change can afford them.

Once you have run through the exercise and determined that it makes sense to “ditch the old”, you will find that there remain some individuals who don’t want to make the switch. It’s practically inevitable. No matter how appealing an opportunity is, you are sure to discover at least a small percentage of your staff still reluctant to move forward. Maybe they have been burned by changes in the past, or perhaps there’s a “comfort blanket” effect at play. Whatever the reason: if the majority of your group is in agreement, or you know your audience and are confident that people will come around once they dip their feet in the water, then this is the time for you to make your stand.

Provided you have thoroughly reviewed the new solution to confirm it would cover the needs of your organization and put together a detailed, realistic plan for roll-out, any risk of issues will be greatly diminished. In the past, I have had people tell me flat out that they wouldn’t bother using a system or product I was looking to implement, but after we started employing it, those same people became some of the solution’s biggest fans. Sometimes, people just need that push to get past their fears so they can realize the benefits a change can afford them.

Of course, once you proceed with your decision, there’s still one last thing you need to do if you want to thoroughly drive home the message that you’re switching gears…YOU NEED TO CUT THE CORD TO YOUR OLD SYSTEM.

Now, I am not telling you to set fire to it as soon as you decide to make a change. It’s actually recommended that you keep “old faithful” in place as a safety net for a period of time, in case it turns out you really did make a huge mistake in switching or, less dramatically but just as important and definitely more likely, you need to get something out of the previous system you didn’t initially account for.

Only, keep in mind that the longer you hold on to the old product, the harder it will be to let it go. Worst of all, retaining your legacy product indefinitely can be detrimental to your business, with negative consequences ranging from the financial costs associated with running and supporting two separate infrastructures to the extra workload required to maintain both systems with essentially the same data. Not to mention the added confusion from having unnecessary redundancies and the risk of information getting lost in the shuffle.

Luckily, the remedy to these concerns is simple… work with your new product vendor to create a detailed and scheduled plan for retiring your legacy system and stick to it. The quicker everyone uses and becomes accustomed to the new product, the less frequently you should see people reaching out to the former one. But if not, or as an extra precautionary measure, make sure to review the things people kept going back to the prior system to do. Is the new solution missing some bit of functionality? If so, then see if there’s an acceptable workaround or a way to get the appropriate functionality added. In the event you can’t find a way to address that missing component, you need to decide whether it is critical to your business operations or simply a “nice to have”. This will help you determine whether you should cut your losses with the new product or if you can carry onward.

Once you’ve addressed any concerns, or if the underlying reason for people returning to the original option is merely disinterest in learning something new, then go ahead… say a final farewell to your old system, and fully embrace the future of your new tech!