How to approach a legacy system change in your business

How to approach a legacy system change in your business

Software and systems are essential part of modern-day businesses, they support and facilitate processes whilst helping your business to stay competitive and even help your teams to achieve more of their potential. Some systems even save a lot of time and money by accomplishing different tasks in minutes.But one thing in particular that can hold companies back from modernizing is the amount they have already invested in legacy systems.This system may still meet the needs it was originally designed for, so you could be thinking why fix it if it isn’t broke? But a legacy system doesn’t allow for growth and very often you find a legacy system’s older technology won’t allow it to interact with newer systems that you may need to implement.Some examples of a legacy system could be your own system created internally or an Excel spreadsheet for managing rebates. Yes, even Excel itself is used in modern day workplaces! However, when you are storing and organising all sorts of data into a single spreadsheet, it can become difficult to manage, require a large amount of staff time to maintain and worst of all, they are probably full of errors and outdated information.Deciding to update your legacy systems can be a tough decision to make and it may require a long implementation process. There are many risks to calculate with such a process, including migration, cost and adoption resistance, so you need to carefully consider how you approach this critical change in your business.

Consider all your system requirements

When looking to replace a legacy system or implementing a new system it can seem like nothing available is suitable for your needs, but it’s always a good idea to take your time to consider your options carefully. You may find that there is a system out there that provides more benefits to your business than you had originally intended, when you started your legacy system change.Just remember that most software products are designed for a marketplace, rather than for an individual which means they will be trying to create or adopt a “best practice”. These days there is usually a selection of software systems to choose from, but if you really can’t find one that seems like a good fit then it may be a good idea to check the assumptions underpinning your current processes.

Bespoke software vs off-the-shelf software

After you know all your requirements the next step when replacing your companies legacy system, is to choose whether to go with an “off-the-shelf” option or a bespoke system. We take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of both systems to aid you in the decision-making process.

Off-the-Shelf Software


  • Lower up-front cost
  • As they are developed for a wider audience, they contain many features, maybe more than you need
  • Support from the company who built the software
  • Upgrades may be provided for free or at reduced cost
  • If it's software-as-a-service (SaaS) there is no hardware or software to install
  • It will always be developed and maintained
  • You will often be able to view a free trial


  • May require you to change your processes to fit the software
  • Higher customization fees
  • Your team will need to be trained which may incur additional costs

Bespoke Software


  • No limitations - you can start with the minimum necessary requirements and add on later
  • Can be tailored to your exact business needs and processes
  • Changes can be made quickly
  • Easily differentiate yourself from your competition


  • Very high initial cost
  • All changes and feature requests will be billable
  • May incur additional costs ramping up new developers
  • See replacing your legacy system as a way to improve business processes

When approaching a legacy system change in your business, it is always important to at least consider that there may be other ways to do things that could even be an improvement on the status quo.This can be a difficult attitude to foster when undergoing a new software system implementation, but the effort is worth the payoff. The process is far more likely to result in a final outcome that is better for you and the business as a whole if stakeholders at all levels can embrace it as a learning exercise as well as the implementation of a new software tool.There are some difficult considerations that must be made when undergoing this system change such as identifying what current processes are difficult to let go of and where they are only sticky because they’re part of the status quo.Where friction arises from a resistance to change, then it is important to ensure that the user’s end state has been considered and effectively communicated as well as the ROI for the organization. This allows all involved to see the personal value that the legacy system change can provide, rather than feeling that a legacy system change might be being forced onto them without having considered the impact it will have on them.

What is the best approach?

From our point of view there is not one correct approach to this legacy system problem. In fact, several approaches may be used by the same organization. The important thing to understand here is that regardless of the overall approach, IT modernization is largely dependent on the organization’s mission, its current portfolio and its future business needs. But by creating a culture around a legacy system change, this can be an opportunity to learn and improve for all those involved, internal friction can be minimized and the chances of identifying the best software system for you are maximized.

Enable’s approach to updating legacy systems

At Enable, we provide all new customers who choose our off-the-shelf rebate management softwarewith an initial, three-phase set up service known as “onboarding”, which will take your key individuals who are currently involved with rebates through a structured process in order to achieve a rapid return on investment.We also care about your data and security as an ISO 27001 certified company. Every new feature or software solution that we deliver has been designed and developed to be as secure as possible, incorporating the latest security defences.

Neil Jenkins

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