Migrating IT systems need not be the beast of a project that many think it is.
Migrating from legacy IT systems to new systems might seem like a challenge you’d rather attack another day… any day but today! Legacy IT systems can often contain a lot of customisations and redundant requirements from old technological constraints and old ways of thinking.
However, if you find the right migration team you could move quickly to new systems and start reaping the benefits straight away. Factor in likely reduced costs, less resources required to support new cloud based systems and improved features and you should be laughing.
Pre-Migration themes to consider
When you’re looking to migrate from legacy systems you should focus on these three key themes:
- Simplify: don’t let a sales pitch get in the way of you focusing on what you’re really after from a new system. The wiz-bang dashboard might have pretty colours, but can you actually do your job any quicker or more efficiently? Focus on whether the new product is solving a problem for you before crossing over.
- Automation: how much can be automated? Computers can handle simple tasks much better than humans can, so make sure you’re going to get usable and useful automation systems from any new system.
- Security: this can be a bit of a can of worms, but make sure that the new systems you’re looking at support Multi-Factor Authentication and at best Single Sign On to help streamline your security
Let’s break each of these down a bit further.
To start with it’s probably best to ignore the sales person’s initial pitch. If they’ve not taken the time to understand your business they will show you the bells and whistles of the product rather than the actual functional components that you’ll use. Make sure that you can at least do what you’re doing today just as easily. What’s the point of a new system if your core functions are harder than before?
Get down into the nitty-gritty of the solution too. Do you need to change any hardware over or purchase additional support to get what you need to run your business? What are their Disaster Recovery options? Do they backup your data in a manner that you’re happy with?
It’s quite possible that your new vendor has a generic approach to risk that caters to their clients at a high level. Make sure you understand their capabilities to recover from an outage and never assume that just because they have a product to sell that they’re capable of managing your business critical data.
Push hard on details about how your data is handled and the way it’s managed. It’s better to establish this prior to migrating to a new system.
Think of automation like robots on a production line. Picking and moving boxes from production lines used to be fulfilled by humans but ultimately it’s a very low-skill task so robots took over.
The non-physical equivalent of this can be found in automation within CRM’s, such as automatically assigning leads to sales representatives based on their workload and geography. What about a newsletter than automatically populates itself with the latest content and sends to your database, which is also automatically updated based on user preferences?
There’s also the backend of systems that might need to be updated. Why use a high-value human to perform a mundane task when you can simply get a piece of scheduled software to do the task for you?
Security is now the most critical component when considering a new IT system.
- where is your data going to be stored?
- who has access to your data?
- how is your data handled by your vendor and their suppliers?
Ever heard of Code Spaces? They WERE a Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to other software developers, offering code management tools – all hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS). They lost their entire business because someone hacked into their Amazon account and was able to delete their work.
There’s a lot of security basics that you can demand from your vendors
- Multi-factor authentication (MfA)
- Enforce the use of strong passwords from your staff
- Rigorously enforce access control, which means only giving your staff the minimum required access for them to perform their jobs. Does everyone need to be an administrator? Probably not.
If you can’t confidently get these answers from your cloud vendor, then perhaps running a cloud system is not the right approach for you. It may be considered a little “old hat” to run your systems on premise but it at least you have full control over your systems. You run the risk of creating more complexity for yourself, adding risk and possibly reducing your security if you don’t invest appropriately, but none of that is insurmountable. Companies have been doing that since the inception of computer networking!
Don’t believe the hype and insist on seeing under the hood of any new product you’re assessing. Ask yourself if you’ll actually use any of the advertised “amazing” features or if you just want a more reliable system to use.
Think about it like buying a new car. There might be a great navigation system built into the dashboard, but they’re generally clunky and fair inferior to what you have on your phone.
What about gauges that tell you G-Forces or power output? Talk about a massive distraction. Do you need 4 USB ports in your car? But you can’t leave out Sports mode! You know, the mode that actually makes the car fun to drive. Why not make it always in sports mode and have a button for “dull mode”?
You get the point (hopefully). Run your vendor selection through a criteria and see which hits most of the right marks for your business. Nothing will match your needs 100% but try and get the figure up as high as possible.