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4 steps organizations can take to upgrade legacy software

The right software can make a major difference for those entities in healthcare that want to obtain or maintain a competitive advantage.

A technician uses a computer keyboard as he stands in the server hall of the data storage center at the headquarters of Rostelecom PJSC, the state telecommunications operator, in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2015. Netflix Inc. signed agreement with Rostelecom to use its TV service starting in 2016. Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg

The relationship an organization has with legacy software is often difficult to explain. But there eventually comes a time when it’s necessary to move on and upgrade to a newer solution. When that time arrives, do you know how to facilitate a seamless transition that puts the organization in a position to maximize long-term success?

The right software can make a major difference for businesses that are seeking to obtain or maintain a competitive advantage in their industry or niche. Unfortunately, it’s easy to become accustomed to the legacy software you’re using and to avoid transitioning to something new. But upgrading your existing software to the latest innovation is often the best move you can make. In doing so, you’ll enjoy benefits like:

Improved functionality. New software wouldn’t exist if it didn’t have something fresh to offer. It has innovative features that legacy solutions simply don’t possess. As a result, upgrading gives your business access to improved functionality.

Better user experience. If you’ve been using legacy software for years, you probably aren’t aware of just how bulky and cumbersome it is. Newer software is far smoother and much more intuitive. The user interfaces tend to be much easier to use and can be customized to each individual user. This creates a better user experience, which limits user-side frustration and promotes efficiency.

Evolving business practices. “If the original legacy system is not scalable, then it may be difficult to upgrade or add-on for coverage of the changing needs,” writes Barney Edwards, a project manager in the software development space. “In addition, you may have vendors or partners that have upgraded their systems, making it difficult or even impossible for your legacy system to link with theirs.” When you upgrade your legacy software to a newer system, you’re instantly able to account for evolving businesses practices and remain competitive in the larger business landscape.

In almost every situation, organizations discover that—after experiencing the benefits of upgraded software—their legacy software was actually holding them back from being the most competitive and profitable that they could be. But it’s often hard to recognize this in the moment.

As you execute an upgrade of legacy software, there are some things that are important to do,

Research options
Any good legacy upgrading process begins with exhaustive research. Depending on the type of software you’re trying to find, you’ll most likely have a handful of options to choose from. On the surface, they’ll all look fairly similar. But when you dig in, you’ll find they differ significantly.

The objective is to find a solution that closely matches your legacy system while offering advances and innovative features that pave the way for improved efficiency, profitability, or whatever it is that you’re seeking in an upgrade.

Ensure compatibility
Compatibility is the biggest problem businesses encounter when upgrading legacy solutions. You need to be sure that any new solution you adopt will be compatible with the rest of your technology stack and IT infrastructure. If it’s not, you’ll end up causing more harm than good.

Use the right tools
These days, there’s a tool for everything. Be meticulous in your due diligence and try to foresee as many issues as you can before they occur. Then arm yourself with a solution or tool to provide insulation from undue risk.

For example, challenges can easily stem from the migration of existing content to a new tool or piece of software. Planning ahead will lessen the likelihood of encountering issues. If you have user manuals associated with your software, the right software documentation tool will streamline this process.

Test the new system
Compatibility testing plays an important role in determining the type of software you need and whether a specific solution will help your business.

“Establish what will and won’t work natively across different operating systems, web browsers or applications,” software developer Chris Rickard writes. “Only then will you truly understand what your business needs to keep moving forward in a productive and profitable manner.”

In the moment, such thorough testing can seem like a waste of time. But when you consider how much you’ll be using this new solution—and how much it’ll cost you—the due diligence is worth every second.

There may not be anything wrong with your legacy software, in and of itself. But if you’re sticking with an old solution, you’re doing so at the expense of newer, advanced software that could make your business more progressive, competitive, efficient, or profitable.

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