This article was updated on June 18, 2018.
Outdated systems and technology cost your organization money in lost employee productivity, frustrated customers and possible compliance issues. So most finance departments should be proactive and review and update their technology. It is, however, understandable if you are apprehensive about fully launching a legacy modernization for your systems. After all, your old legacy system is getting the job done now, and if something goes wrong with the transition, it could make a major dent in your operations schedule.
To help your legacy modernization go smoothly, there are a few guidelines you should follow.
List All Desired Upgrades
Before you start making any changes, make a list of every potential upgrade you could make for your department. For each possible system upgrade, list why you want to make the improvement, the expected benefits from the upgrade, how the current technology applies to your daily operations and what changes you will need to make to your operations to handle the upgrade, such as additional training for staff before you launch. You should also estimate how much each upgrade would cost and how long it will take to get online.
This process will help you more clearly understand which upgrades are most useful and cost effective. At the same time, you could identify some that are unnecessary. For example, you should never make an upgrade just for the sake of adding new technology. There should be a clear, beneficial outcome, such as faster processing times or better accessibility to information.
Transition in Stages
You should not try to handle any part of a legacy modernization all at once. There is simply not enough time to tackle everything, especially because your department will need time to adjust. For example, if you would like to move your financial data storage to a cloud-based system, you could handle the transition in three stages. Your first step would be to set up the new cloud system while letting everyone know about the upcoming change. Then, encourage your employees to use the new cloud system while still having the option to use your legacy system to submit information. Finally, shut down your old legacy system and move all operations to your new system.
By moving in stages, you don't rush into a new untested method, and you give everyone plenty of time to learn the new system and make adjustments accordingly.
Have a Backup Plan
When you start working on a new upgrade, you should look closely at the process you're trying to change. How long can your operations run with that system down? For something like billing processing, you could possibly go a few weeks without the system running because you don't need that information at all times and can update your records once you relaunch; however, other operations, like anything with financial compliance, need to always be online.
For urgent operations that cannot shut down, you should expect to pay more for the upgrade so it goes through more quickly and without a delay. You should also have a backup system in place, just in case there are problems during the transition. For example, keep your old system online so you have something to fall back on in case the new system doesn't immediately work as planned or requires a period of testing to ensure it's reliable.
Enlist a Legacy System Consulting Firm
Sometimes, launching a legacy modernization while continuing to run operations can be too much for your regular staff to handle. One solution is to work with a consulting firm that specializes in these types of upgrades. This firm would give you the extra staff you need to continue running your old system while you set up your new system. In addition, they have experience with legacy modernization and can help you troubleshoot any problems with your upgrade while it's being installed and down the line if other problems crop up after launch.
Upgrading your financial systems will take some work, but it is not something you should fear. By following this blueprint, you can modernize without hurting operations or your department's productivity.