The pandemic sped the adoption of technology across the built environment, bringing profound changes to the industry. However, post-pandemic, we’ve seen the digital transformation boom begin to slow. Neil Davidson, VP EMEA & APAC at Deltek, explains to PBC Today the three tips for success when modernising legacy systems

Despite other priorities now also needing attention as business is recovering digital transformation still offers an enormous opportunity for firms, and a platform to weather the coming conditions. As inflation continues to put an upward pressure on costs, productivity will continue to be front and centre. Technology drives productivity.

Prioritising digital strategy and embedding best practices throughout the business will see those that do so weathering the market conditions most effectively. Over the coming decade, it will equip organisations with the ability to adapt quickly, reduce risk and boost overall efficiency.

Project-based firms across the board such as A&E, management and IT consultancies, and marketing and advertising agencies that modernise their legacy systems can gain a competitive edge by streamlining operations.

While the benefits in terms of increasing efficiencies are obvious, in reality resource and time constraints can be a blocker to realising full digital transformation. If leaders invest now in continuing their digital transformation, they will ensure they don’t get left behind – and avoid the potential knock-on effects of managing outdated systems – something that can be costly both in terms of resource but also customer acquisition and retention.

Optimising and re-evaluating systems should be an ongoing process for firms to ensure they are getting the most out of their investment.  As we’ve learned from the last two years, adaptability and flexibility not only ensure businesses can weather unpredictability but also come through with an advantage over their peers.

When it comes to modernising legacy systems, firms that adopt a proactive attitude and embrace evolving technology will be best placed to achieve future growth. However, modernising legacy systems is no easy feat.

Three rules for modernising legacy systems

  1. Selecting solutions for ongoing opportunity

In order to remain ahead of the curve and competitive in the evolving landscape, it is crucial that businesses have solutions to support their teams in managing complex client relationships and deliverables. Technology underpins business success. Whether that be a project management system or financial management solutions, these core tools are used throughout the business and therefore should be treated as assets.

When researching new systems, firms need to ensure they select not just a solution, but a partner for the long term. On the market, there are a variety of different solutions that will meet a business’ needs.

However, the process to upgrade a legacy system should be part of a longer term strategy, looking ahead to the next five to ten years. Will the solution evolve with the business? It is founded on industry practice? Will you be joining a like minded community of users? Does it have the ability to expand in line with growth objectives? Will it continue to work as the team and projects develop? Does it have expertise in my industry? Can I transition at an acceptable risk profile?

To do this, companies need to outline their short, medium, and long-term strategy, and work backwards, rather than just addressing pressing issues with their systems. Taking this approach will prevent businesses from refreshing their systems multiple times, saving time and money.

2. Bringing everyone on the journey

Whilst company-wide buy-in to change can be difficult to secure, bringing employees along on the selection, rollout and implementation journey is vital for change management and project success. When modernising legacy systems, businesses need to make decisions with their employees at the forefront.

When it comes to organisational change, we must really focus on teams. Technology is great, but it is only as good as the people using it. Transforming businesses is necessary however people and processes must go hand in hand to realise the benefits of greater efficiency and superior user experiences.

Firms should consider creating employee focus groups, based on team requirements ahead of the research and selection process. More often than not, employees are the people using the legacy systems. Meaning, that the employees have the greatest idea of what is required, what will improve their jobs and how the system can be upgraded for the benefit of the business.

By taking the time to find out the employee’s requirements, businesses have an enhanced ability to make an informed decision as to upgrades needed, while employees are recognised and heard. Upgrading legacy systems won’t be a quick fix, it’s an opportunity to bring the business together and make changes that will not only boost profit, but morale.

When the solution is selected and implementation complete, an in-depth training programme needs to be rolled out for employees. Without dedicating time to training, employees will adopt their own methods in place of the systems, which risk error and reduce efficiency. By providing training, employers give employees the opportunity to ask questions, ensuring they’re comfortable with the system and securing employee buy-in.

People are the heartbeat of every business so securing their buy-in is an important step in successful transformation.

3. Putting legacy systems in the scope of digital transformation initiatives

Legacy systems have been a lifeline for many businesses as the internet and technology have evolved. As we move into a new wave of technology and hyper-automation it is still important to be realistic about the change.

It is insinuated that now we have shiny new systems, antiquated legacy infrastructure is of no use. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Realistically legacy systems need to be part of the overall digital transformation strategy as that transformation is a journey.

While digital systems will eventually underpin how project based organisations embrace, implement and use technology a migration strategy is critical to the success of the overall digital strategy.

Most importantly, firms need to be reminded that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

New technologies unlock new opportunities and support businesses in their ability to problem-solve by offering insights into the business, but think of digital transformation as a long-term project. One that has the potential to reap significant rewards if we plan effectively, find the right partners and start small.


Neil Davidson

modernising legacy systems





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