Obsolete IT applications – issues for entrepreneurs

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So let’s jump merrily into the depths of the nightmare of every entrepreneur: IT investment. I say nightmare because it’s a field of expertise for which the vast majority of entrepreneurs have absolutely no basis for appreciation or evaluation.  There is little or no reassurance for a decision-maker faced with a 100, 200, or even $500,000 decision, which choice will likely have a major impact on productivity, thus profitability and the future of the business.

So… to help the entrepreneur in this situation, and I believe there will be more and more who need help in the years to come, because the stakes are the same and are just as important as ever: Business Process Automation, increasing productivity, mobile workforce, accessible information, increased quality of Business Intelligence, improved decision-making processes, integrity and security of company data, etc., all of course with the ultimate goal; increase Profitability and improve Customer Satisfaction.

The Problem

I meet more and more entrepreneurs who own one or multiple IT applications that are increasingly outdated (old versions of old technologies) and which are fast approaching the threshold of non-profitability because they receive a growing number of user complaints. Then comes the fateful day when they ask for a review, and assessment of the situation from their IT department, their experts.

The Context

The entrepreneur hears the IT folk singing the praises of Web 2.0 applications that promise heaven and earth; these will solve ALL their problems, in particular the thorny issue of updates and interoperability.

The entrepreneur is presented with marketing strategies that place mobility at the heart of their business development plans for the company, which involves the mobilization of parts of obsolete applications and or their functionalities: like CRM, Business Intelligence, etc.

Finally, many other entrepreneurs are faced with a situation whereby the IT department indicates that if nothing is done, the applications will no longer be supported by suppliers or the manufactures of the development tools and therefore, they should move the obsolete application toward a new technology. Microsoft’s Visual FoxPro is a prime example.

The harsh reality!

For years, companies have invested in systems in place and to update them; it would require a considerable investment to replace them, which would be difficult to justify at the organizational level. What department will be so dependent on the obsolete application that they’d want to assume the costs of replacement or upgrade???

Potential Solutions

What are they and how do you choose?

Find a commercial product (available on the market) that can replace your existing applications:

  • Generally, the least expensive solution if it meets at least 75% of the requirements and needs of the business (current functions of the application it replaces),

Find a service rather than a product that can replace your current application.

  • E.g. Salesforce to replace the company CRM, however, many companies just aren’t ready to relinquish their data…

Update the existing application (if the foundation is good) without migrating technologically.

  • If the features to be added are not significant and the existing applications are solid, then that’s an easy decision.

Migrate the existing application(s) to a new technology by adding the missing features:

  • Generally speaking, this is the solution that best meets the expectations of both the IT managers and end-users because this approach allows you to make:
    • Recovery of historical data
    • Re-architecture of the Database (that is often neglected and shouldn’t be overlooked)
    • Recovery of Business Intelligence included in the old application
    • Integration of new requested features
    • Integration of desirable or necessary mobile features
    • Utilisation of new and more efficient reporting tools
  • The riskiest solution (without a shadow of doubt)
  • The most expensive solution (surely) but with the ability to reap the greatest rewards, the greatest benefits for the company

Considerations and clues

Here are some answers to help you in your decision making:

  • Is the application “business critical”?
  • Are some mobile users requiring a mobile module?
  • Are some users spread out over different territories?
  • Would many disparate modules benefit from being integrated?
  • Business data duplicated throughout different applications?
  • The investment required to update the master application such that the business cannot afford it?
  • The existing system incapable of producing information (reports) required by the decision makers?
  • Your competition outdistancing you more and more without offering a truly superior product or service to yours? (then perhaps they are simply more effective / productive than you … thanks to the right applications!)


If you can find an existing product that meets at least 75% of your business needs for the company, and the enterprise reseller is recognized as a reputable vendor, you’re lucky… Go… go for it!

If the quality of existing application is such that it’s worth investing in these applications, then go for it!

If your primary system meets the business requirements specific to your company, the technology is obsolete, modules aren’t integrated, data isn’t integrated, then in that case go for an overhaul or put the key in the door…

But I have no budget! So get a plan:

  • When will I be ready?
  • How do I proceed?
  • How will I invest?

Have a great week,


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