May 22, 2024

How to Modernize Legacy Systems with Minimal Business Disruption

As recently as 2022, the vast majority (74%) of manufacturers were using legacy systems and long-running spreadsheets. Most will want or need to modernize sometime soon as manufacturing continues its digital transformation. Replacing outdated software can be disruptive in the best cases and disastrous in the worst—but it does not have to be a painful process. Follow this framework to make legacy systems easier and more economical to discontinue.

Focus on Value

Companies often decide to modernize only when legacy systems are no longer supported or become otherwise unsustainable, putting the focus on the challenges associated with the existing system. Instead, focus on the features, functionality, and value of a replacement system and the business boost it could deliver. Start by identifying problems and pain points that real users, especially on the front lines, experience when using the legacy software. Next, identify a replacement that truly solves those problems—not just fills the gaps left by the old solution

Update Mindset

It may have been a decade (or several decades) since replacing a major software solution. Features and functionality have changed, especially in regards to UX/UI, giving users greater freedom and flexibility without requiring extensive time and training. In that way, do not think of disruptions as a foregone conclusion because that could lead to self-sabotage. Instead, lean into all the ways that software like CloudSuite Industrial enables what used to be impossible.

Set Targets

The odds of making changes that do things better than before rather than just differently than before increase by setting clear and realistic targets. For example, the goal of modernization should not be something obvious like replacing inventory software or vague like improving efficiency and productivity. It should be something aspirational and quantifiable like reduce inventory waste by 20%. Check on progress toward these targets regularly throughout the modernization effort. If progress is slower or smaller than expected, consider it an early warning sign of possible disruptions, and act quickly to course correct.

Educate Users

If users do not receive adequate education, training, and support it can undermine the entire modernization effort, and the choice of the right replacement software and/or implementation partner becomes irrelevant. Helping users feel excited about leaving legacy software behind and confident about using something unfamiliar is one of the biggest challenges associated with implementing a new system. It is also the most important part, so plan for it extensively, get started early, and conduct training often. Wherever possible, highlight how the features in the new software fix the pain points users were struggling with and deliver the value they said they wanted.

Modernize Manufacturing with Complete Confidence

Replacing legacy systems will always be a big decision involving many unknowns. With the right partner, one who can help with everything from selecting new software to leading implementation and managing long-term maintenance, modernization efforts run smoothly from beginning to end. Not only does a great partner help avoid and minimize disruptions, but they also keep costs in check and orchestrate a greater ROI by applying years of practical experience and industry-specific expertise.

The team at Guide Technologies specializes in digital transformation for manufacturers. We have helped countless small, midsize, and large manufacturers replace legacy systems and come out stronger on the other side – boasting profitability and production metrics that substantiate their decisions to migrate to a modern ERP solution.

Ready to modernize your ERP and minimize business disruptions? Contact us today.