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Legacy Systems: Knowing the Risk
Seritrig 20/20™: Managing the Risk

Managing a legacy software system, and planning a replacement strategy, is all about knowing the risks. The four main risks to consider are:

  1. Risk of Technical Atrophy – the risk that over time your technical team becomes unable to reckon with your legacy application. Whether because skilled personnel are difficult to find, or the complexity of the application has grown, the result is the same: the legacy application and its support team gradually lose their ability to respond to changing operational needs.
  2. Dependency Risk – software systems usually have built-in dependencies on third-party hardware, operating systems, databases or packages. While these dependencies may have presented significant advantages when the application was first constructed, time can alter vendor relationships, and dependencies can evolve into liabilities. Vendors go out of business, or move into different product lines, and you find yourself unable to attract sufficient expertise to support you.
  3. Risk of Functional Setback – heavy investment in work processes, data and training rely on the replacement system performing the same function as the original. However produced, if a legacy replacement falls short of the original functionality it can harm the efficient flow of work.
  4. Creative Risk – Risk inherent to ALL software development. Software programmers, however well-trained or disciplined, engage in what is essentially a creative process. Creative risk is the source of the worst cost and schedule overruns in software projects.

Every strategy to replace a legacy software system must assess these basic risk elements, and assess the impact on the business health of the enterprise.

These risks, together with normal maintenance activities contribute to an overall rise in complexity which can begin to limit the service life of any legacy software application.

 

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With normal software maintenance activities over a period of years, software complexity will naturally rise, with modifications becoming increasingly expensive. High complexity can effectively limit the service life of the software.

To learn more about the unique risk management features of Seritrig 20/20™ Services, click here.