Remember Swiss-born psychiatrist Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her book on death and dying? She outlined the five stages of grief a person goes through when dying. I read something recently about the fight to save a legacy system and it reminded me of this very book I read well over a decade ago.
In case you forgot, let me refresh your memory.
The Five Stage of Dying
- Denial and Isolation
The list was praised by some and criticized by others. It reminds me of how so many companies struggle when they prepare to let go of their beloved legacy system.
Let’s revisit those stages and add in the legacy system concept.
Denial and Isolation – My legacy system is great: functionally rich, reliable, and cost effective. I will ignore the isolated complaints and this will go away.
Anger – How could someone not love this system? Obviously they are technically inept.
Bargaining – I will be able to keep my legacy system, if I just add in the few extra lines of code needed to keep them happy.
Depression – How could this be happening? How could they not love my system? How am I ever going to find something suitable for our company, something affordable, something supportable?
Acceptance – Where is the consultant, project tool kit, something? If I’m losing my legacy system, let’s just get it over with now so I can retire.
We frequently run into companies who we consider “tire kickers”. These are companies that seem to resurface every few years to “see what is new” in the world of ERP solutions. They have old legacy systems that are fifteen to twenty years old and still believe they have benchmark technology. Yet for some reason, know enough to review the latest ERP software to review what they “might” be missing.
I just don’t understand. If your business management system is older than your oldest home appliance, how can it possibly help your company stay competitive? How can it provide your company with any edge against your competition? How can it be considered anything but a hindrance?
I am confused, I am upset. Maybe I’m the one in denial...