How to Build a Case for Replacing Legacy Applications

The signs that your legacy application is underperforming may have been showing for some time. The system is slow, the vendor no longer supports the application, or it doesn’t integrate well with newer technologies. And, while employees may have even designed workarounds to bypass some of what’s holding them back, but those processes often waste time and money. You know it’s time to upgrade your technology but getting budget approval to do so isn’t always easy.  

When you uncover the true cost of staying on the legacy path and the potential savings of taking a different direction, you’re in a much better position to build a case for your manager and get your budget approved.  

The hidden costs of legacy applications  

One of the biggest challenges around legacy applications is getting visibility into what it really costs to maintain them, and isn’t always easy to see. A few hidden costs include:  

  • Wasted IT resources. When you need an update, you often reach out to IT for help. Not only are you at the mercy of your IT department, waiting for them to make a fix, but they don’t always have the internal talent experienced in legacy technology. In addition, as applications get older, employees retire or move on to other companies, making it more challenging to handle your request.  
  • Duct tape and bubble gum solutions. Legacy applications are often difficult to work with, and when you need changes, you find yourself in a “duct tape and bubble gum” situation. You’re creating temporary fixes to hold things together, and no sooner do you fix one challenge than another one arises to take its place.  
  • Late reporting and lost opportunities. Legacy applications often lack real-time reporting. Quickly getting data allows you to pivot faster and make better decisions, supporting growth. Lacking this ability means missing opportunities and moving more slowly than your competitors.  
  • A lack of integrations. Legacy applications don’t integrate well with newer technologies, which wastes resources. In addition, you’re losing productivity and money whenever an employee has to create a new workflow to bypass legacy application issues.  

Making your business case  

Start with a list of ways your legacy applications interrupt workflow, slow down productivity, and cost the company money. Incorporate these into your business case to get a new technology solution approved 

Then, once you’ve uncovered the hidden costs of maintaining legacy applications, there are other considerations to include in your business case to invest in newer technology. One of the biggest areas is risk. Continuing the use of legacy applications often leaves you open to potential exposures during an audit, resulting in fines. These fines may pale in comparison to the cost of a data breach – many legacy apps have outlived support and are no longer protected, which make them an easy target for cybercrime. 

By quantifying the potential savings a new solution will deliver, you’ll give your manager more context to just what it costs to stay with the status quo. Put together an estimate by listing all of your organization’s existing processes, how much time they take and the current cost. This is the savings that could be realized by upgrading.  

For example, it might take an employee an hour to create an incoming case. New technology decreases that time to 10 minutes. Multiply the employee’s wage by the time savings, and you have concrete numbers to show your manager.  

Need help calculating your ROI to make your business case? Download this template, and we’ll walk you through it.  

What to look for in a solution  

Presenting the savings requires you to know the amount of the investment needed. So, before you walk into your manager’s office, you’ll want to ballpark the cost of a new solution to calculate ROI. As you start the shopping process, here are a few “hidden cost” considerations:  

  • Can you make internal modifications with the new technology? When CMS introduces a new regulatory requirement, that means you’ll need to make changes. You don’t want to rely on IT to make them. You need technology that allows your staff to make changes and is intuitive and easy to use.  
  • Is the system scalable? A scalable system helps you prepare for what you need now and positions you for future growth over the next five-to-10 years.  
  • Can you easily customize it? Out-of-the-box solutions may get up and running fast, but not being able to customize is problematic when you need to make changes. So, make sure the new technology allows for easy customizations and modifications 

Overall, you want a scalable solution that empowers you to take control by making changes within your department so you’re not relying on your IT department or your technology partner.  

Preparing for the future  

Change is hard. This is what makes continuing down the legacy path so easy. Your people are used to the technology and making a switch can be scary. Fear-based concerns – i.e., What if the technology doesn’t perform well? What if the implementation disrupts workflows? – are common, but easily alleviated when you choose the right partner. Look for experienced solution providers who not only know technology, but also understand your business. Such partners can help you quickly retire your legacy applications and adopt technologies that create time savings, improved workflows, and high ROI.  

Once your organization sees the hidden costs of staying on the legacy path and the savings that newer technologies bring, you’ve got a strong business case that positions your organization (and yourself!) for future growth.