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The Challenges of Maintaining a Legacy System

Written by Amber Lehmann on April 7, 2015

Did you know that Legacy technologies continue to persist due to their tried and tested nature, stability, and ability to meet user demands?  The cost of replacing these systems and the inherent difficulties raised during migrating systems that require continual availability pose significant obstacles.  Internal app support teams that maintain these Legacy systems encounter many challenges as well.

Some of these challenges include:

1. Balancing variable demand for incident resolution and consulting with scheduled support activities.

2. The need for rapid resolution of high priority problems requiring a pre-trained staff that cannot easily be replaced or re-deployed. Staff may be “trapped” in support assignments for long periods of time. As a result, many internal IT professionals do not want to work on support teams. In addition, staff may become unhappy in their positions and seek a career elsewhere.

3. Business priorities are focused on strategic projects. Application support receives little management attention unless there is a disruption. As a result, there are few tools and processes for managing support. Success is measured by “lack of noise” from the business.

4. Many support requests are communicated directly to a support analyst and are not logged. Insufficient logging and management of support requests results in a reactive LIFO approach (Last in First Out or Loudest in First Out) which affects the completion of high priority or high value requests.

5. Knowledge is undocumented. Original documentation from development teams includes user guides or design specifications. Neither type of documentation is updated to reflect changes. They also do not provide the type of knowledge required by support teams.

6. Failure to permanently fix recurring problems means the support team must respond to each occurrence.

These challenges coupled with the cost of replacing a Legacy system create an environment less than ideal for an internal app support team.  Companies facing these challenges should consider hiring an external support team dedicated to maintenance at all levels.

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