At some point, much of the functionality of legacy systems can become outdated and no longer fit for purpose. This is nothing new, but many companies are nervous to introduce new technology to their legacy systems because they believe it’s such a big and daunting job.
Luckily, technology and approaches have continued to evolve and there are some groundbreaking ways to introduce new functionality, without always having to throw existing systems in the bin.
Here are a few tips to help combine your legacy systems with new technology in a manageable, low risk and effective way.
Take it step by step
Many companies delay updating their legacy systems for as long as possible because they have an ‘all or nothing’ view of the process. The thought of integrating old and new systems might be overwhelming as a whole, so the simple solution is to break it up into small steps.
Start by prioritising your goals for introducing new technology to your legacy systems. What are you hoping to achieve? This should focus on the end user benefits, not the features.
For example, you might want to improve the speed and efficiency of your website or enable an ecommerce experience that’s not currently available on your site. Perhaps you want to streamline multiple content management systems, or promote seamless content sharing across devices. Start with the end goal and work backwards from there to prioritise which areas are most important to you.
Then, you can create a prioritised list of goals and break each of those down into smaller projects.
Focus on one at a time - discovery, proof of concept, prototyping, testing, development and repeat. When you take an incremental approach to old versus new systems integrations, the whole process becomes more manageable.
You want to introduce new technology to your legacy systems, not risk. So it’s important to factor risk into every decision you make and every bit of tech you explore.
At Digital Detox, we find that the best way to de-risk any digital transformation project is to do a heck of a lot of discovery and prototyping upfront. This allows us to test hypotheses and get valuable insight before any actual development work takes place.
Once we have confidence that a new piece of technology is going to enhance legacy systems, without the risk of destabilising them, we’re able to move forward with the integration in confidence.
APIs are the way forward
If you’re keen to combine your legacy systems with new technology, you don’t need to build two entirely new systems from scratch.
Instead, you can write APIs to enable the two systems to interact. APIs are the biggest enablers to systems integrations, because they’re fluid and light touch to create, but incredibly powerful in the way they connect unrelated systems. If your legacy system is a closed source, proprietary system, it’s still possible to introduce new functionality via APIs.
Don’t spend years mapping out the delivery of an entirely new system, simply pick and choose what you want to add and use APIs to achieve it.
Reuse wherever possible
As a sustainable design and development agency, we try to reuse components whenever we can. Not only is this better for the environment, because it requires less development time, energy and power than creating new components from scratch, but it’s a more cost-efficient approach too.
Think about it - if you’re introducing new technology to an existing stack, there must be some components that can be modified or replicated?
Before you throw away your existing legacy systems and start again, take the time to review what can be used again, either in its current form, or with some minor alterations.
Get your CMS right
If your business has multiple content management systems, it’s time to ask why? Usually, a business with multiple content management systems signals a lack of alignment across departments. You may also be catering to different end user needs or perhaps your content needs to be consumed across various channels or devices.
This is still possible to achieve through a single CMS solution. Rather than introducing new technology to your incumbent CMS, we’d suggest you explore switching to a headless CMS instead. The beauty of a headless CMS is that it isn’t tied to a single front-end. So, once you’ve set up your content framework and planned out the various end users and channels you require, the technology does the rest.
A headless CMS allows you to present content seamlessly across any front-end channel. Plus, it’s a great way to streamline your many content management systems into a single solution.
This is hands down the most efficient way to manage content across multiple departments, end users and devices.
Keep it simple
The bottom line here is that combining your legacy systems with new technology need not bring you out in a cold sweat. In fact, with an incremental approach, a test and learn mindset and the right technology partner, you can keep it simple, cost effective and risk-free.
Get in touch to find out more about how we support large enterprise businesses with seamless systems integrations, modernisations and transformations.
About Digital Detox
We’re a digital design and development agency with a focus on people, planet and cutting edge technology.
Whether you’re a small startup looking for some consultancy and support, or a large enterprise organisation undergoing a massive digital transformation, we can help!