Outdated legacy systems are crippling many sectors of the economy.
Federal systems probably lead the way with 80-90% of government IT spend being on keeping the lights on (keeping outdated legacy systems up and running). Congressional investigators recently stated that the government currently operates nearly two dozen information systems that date back to 1980 or earlier.
Fallout and continued challenges from a failure to rectify this situation are manifest and include security breaches, skill shortages as well as cost (license fees associated with legacy systems can be prohibitively high and extremely difficult to negotiate).
And the Feds are not alone. Financial Services organizations are equally susceptible as, indeed, are pretty well every sector of the economy (even Facebook are already running into legacy system issues).
But one element of the impact of legacy systems that is often overlooked is employee morale. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee recently said that, “the continued use of outdated operating systems and computer languages — some dating back to the 1950s — add to low employee morale.”
Which got me thinking. Of course, customers calling in to complain about poor service brought on by malfunctioning legacy systems or worried about the loss of their personal information is going to lead to poor morale of the customer service rep. Account Managers of a software vendor yet to modernize and dealing with their customers’ complaints about the lack of functionality of their (once loved?) application are also going to struggle to maintain their own morale.
And then what about software developers within these organizations? Recently graduated and looking forward to a career working with the latest languages and methodologies, they find themselves working on existing systems (because they need fixing up and there’s not much money for new innovation anyway). Not good for morale.
Along comes the hope of modernization. A whisper by the water cooler and maybe the software developer will at last be free to work on new systems. Only to be informed that the modernization project will be run in-house. This happens and often for good reasons but, whatever those reasons, they don’t take into account employee morale.
Software developers want to work on leading edge technology, not deal with decades old legacy systems. A much better alternative for dealing with legacy modernization from a pro-employee morale standpoint is to outsource those projects to experts in modernization and leave the software developers to do what they went to school to do. After all, they don’t teach modernization in school, experts are created from years of experience in real life projects.