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Sunsetting Legacy Software 

As technology evolves, software products continue to improve in usability, accessibility, and performance. Eventually, companies must face the inevitable question – should I keep maintaining my current system, or plan to upgrade and update?

This question is not easy to answer, as either option typically involves cost and inconvenience. However, there are downsides to continue to maintain legacy or outdated software beyond its time. One of those downsides is being forced into an upgrade because a legacy system can’t support your business anymore, or you can’t find the right technical support to perform maintenance. A better approach is to proactively plan to “sunset” your applications. This plan allows you to mitigate risk by distributing costs to meet your budget and timeline as needed.

This blog will present the points to consider when evaluating legacy software. Learn how to determine if your software is ready to be retired, and how updating can benefit your business.

What is Software Sunsetting?

Software sunsetting, also known as software retirement or end-of-life (EOL) management, refers to the deliberate and strategic process of discontinuing or retiring software products, services, and/or features. It involves the removal of software from active development, ongoing maintenance, and support. This decision is typically made due to technological advancements, business strategy changes, market demand shifts or other factors.

The Challenges of Legacy systems

High Maintenance Cost

Maintaining legacy systems can be costly. The most significant expenditure consists of licensing fees for software and applications, including renewal fees for operating systems (OS) and databases (DB). Even if organizations do not actively use their legacy systems, maintaining the applications is required. This not only increases the maintenance cost but also puts greater pressure on the technical teams to maintain multiple systems.

Another point of consideration is the operational cost of having IT resources tied up with managing outdated systems when they could be working on modern technology which might improve business process productivity. This point becomes significant when products drop support on old versions.

Technical Debt

A major challenge for organizations is technical debt. Technical debt is the cost of needing to rework solutions. This usually happens when quick and easy fixes with limitations were implemented instead of resolving problems with more strategic approaches. As most companies don’t want to spend too much money maintaining their legacy systems, there tends to be a lot of technical debt in this area.

Unaddressed technical debts increase software disorder and the cost of further rework. It also hinders the company’s capability to innovate and adapt to the latest changes.

There may be times that technical debt is incurred due to lack of knowledge about an application or product. Although this is a great reason to sunset software, these cases are challenging as there may not be enough company knowledge to successfully document and plan the migration process. In this case, the migration should include parallel runs in production to ensure that all data and functionality is migrated successfully.

Run Time Performance

Older software applications are typically not able to process large amounts of data efficiently. For example, older database design may prohibit effective searching or run-time processing which directly affects business process productivity.

Environmental Impact

Legacy systems contribute to IT related environmental impacts. Older technology can drain energy resources resulting in higher costs and energy use. A great example of this is using on-prem servers versus the cloud. Cloud servers can be optimized to spin up and down as needed instead of working 24/7 regardless of the need for usage.

What to Evaluate when deciding to Sunset Applications

Are Legacy System Performances affecting Daily Operations?

As mentioned earlier, most legacy systems are not taking advantage of the most recent advances in technology which optimize performance. Accessing and retrieving data may be labor intensive and run-times may be slow which affects the time it takes to get a job done.

Also, if legacy systems are often failing, requiring attention or system resets and causing downtime – you should measure that cost to your business. You may find that the overall cost of running this software is much higher than just considering licensing fees.

Is the Software still a Strategic Fit for Future State Business?

If your company is amid business transformation, question which platform is worth bringing forward. For example, many software companies gained success in moving to cloud, therefore they have stopped using and building non-cloud-based software. In this scenario, a plan must be made to sunset all applications which are non-cloud based.

Is Outdated Technology affecting your Ability to Compete?

Applications Supporting Product Production

Time to market is key to remaining competitive. If legacy systems or outdated software are slowing your production time to the point that you may be losing sales to faster competitors, then it is time to evaluate what changes can be made to correct that trend. Another point to consider is the rate of error. If legacy systems are highly manual and difficult to use, the rate of error increases in getting your orders processed efficiently. Overall, both issues adversely affect customer satisfaction.

Product Engagement

Products should delight customers. If software products are hard to use or load slowly, customers will begin to look elsewhere. Customer satisfaction surveys can be used to track product usefulness. Use customer feedback to determine if products or their features need to be upgraded or retired.

Declining Revenue on Software

If you find that your software product is not delivering the revenue to meet your business goals, you should consider sunsetting the product. As newer technologies and competitors emerge, it often happens that sales and revenue figures slowly decline. By having a proactive plan to replace outdated software, you will be able to control the cost and keep disruption to a minimum.

Benefits of Implementing Software Sunsetting

Security

Retiring outdated software reduces the risk of security vulnerabilities that may exist in older versions. By encouraging users to transition to newer, more secure software, organizations can protect sensitive data and safeguard against potential cyber threats.

Cost Reduction

The costs of sustaining software that is no longer financially viable can be significant. Reduce these costs by proactively sunsetting software. Savings can be reinvested in new projects or used to improve existing offerings.

Operational Efficiency

When obsolete software is retired, organizations can eliminate the need for ongoing maintenance, support, and compatibility testing. This frees up resources that can be redirected towards more strategic initiatives and core business activities.

User Experience

By upgrading or updating, organizations can focus their resources on creating modern user-friendly, feature-rich and scalable solutions that enhance the end-user experience. This leads to increased customer satisfaction and acceptance.

How to Approach Software Sunsetting

Planning

The first step in any project is developing a strong plan. The decision to sunset legacy systems may impact several departments and having a full analysis of its impact is always a good idea. Sunsetting not only has organizational impacts, but also financial impacts. Having a robust planning strategy is essential.

Choosing an Architecture

A system sunsetting project includes evaluating the current architecture and redesigning the structure to accommodate the best possible features and functionality to realize new goals. It is important to weigh all the available options to identify the process that will require minimum effort but will have a maximum positive impact.

Development and Testing of New Software

Identify a trusted, innovative partner for developing and migrating legacy applications. Have a custom approach based on the uniqueness of your organization to give you exactly what you need, regardless of how complex or challenging the process might be. Always ensure that the development plan allows for the testing and signoff of project work, including testing the migration.

Migrating from the Legacy System

When all functionality has been tested and approved, the data can be migrated from the old system to the new. The risk of system failure is a factor of concern as many organizations cannot afford to experience any system downtime. To ensure the production environment is not disrupted, it is important to have a complete plan for running both systems for a period until the newly deployed system has been verified. This parallel system allows for last-minute data retrieval or verification. Usually, this system is kept alive for an agreed duration and decommissioned later.

Continued Support

Make sure you include Continued Support in your maintenance contract. Continued Support is a maintenance renewal service option that provides you with limited support after your main contract support has ended. With this type of support, you receive continued access to the support team.

In Conclusion

Like everything in life, digital products also have a definitive lifecycle. Failure to keep current can lead to product outages and unhappy customers or, even worse, security risks such as exposure to hacking. We’ve all heard about security breaches and the impact on businesses and consumers.  That is why it is crucial to keep up with current technical standards – not only to deliver the superior experience that customers expect, but also to protect information.

Be proactive when it comes to evaluating your software. Outdated products can become a drain on your business or may eventually hurt your brand reputation and credibility with customers. Planning in advance allows you to successfully budget, implement and follow strategy, to make positive impacts to business.

SphereGen is a unique solutions provider that specializes in cloud-based applications, custom web/mobile apps, Intelligent Automation and Extended Reality (AR/VR/MR). We offer full-stack custom application development to help customers employ innovative technology to solve business problems.

About SphereGen

SphereGen logo on white background

SphereGen is a unique solutions provider that specializes in cloud-based applications, Intelligent Automation, and Extended Reality (AR/VR/MR). We offer full-stack custom application development to help customers employ innovative technology to solve business problems.

Learn more about what we do in Application Development: https://www.spheregen.com/application-development

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