Understanding the Organizational Costs of Legacy Systems

While technology is essential for many businesses and organizations, it can sometimes be difficult to know whether upgrades or complete replacement is the correct choice.   However, once there becomes a significant gap in required functionality, accompanied with negative impact on organizational viability, often the only option is to embrace change. Transition to a new system without negative organizational impact and drained resources can be challenging. It can cost your organization in several different ways to upgrade your technology and migrate away from a legacy system. However, in most cases, it is even more costly to maintain legacy systems that have outlived their usefulness.

Below we’ll look at the many risks and costs of continuing to use legacy systems instead of fully transitioning off of them once a replacement is available.

Defining Legacy Systems

In case you’re in need of a refresher of what exactly a legacy system is, it’s very simple. A legacy system is any technology that has been replaced in function by newer technology and is still being used for some function within an organization. Legacy systems typically include software and any supporting hardware.

While these systems may have been commonly used in the past, once they cease to be used for a primary function, they are legacy systems. This may be because the systems have become outdated, inefficient, or lacking when compared to more modern alternatives. This is often the case because the company behind the technology no longer supports product development.

The Costs of Using Outdated Technology

The costs associated with holding onto older systems and using outdated technology impact organizations both financially and in terms of the risk associated with them.

When an organization continues to use outdated legacy systems, it can lead to lowered security, decreased compliance, poor use of time and resources, and missed opportunities for process improvement.

Below are a few of the main costs associated with using legacy systems.

System Maintenance

The cost of system maintenance when using legacy systems can add up fast. Organizations attempting to effectively manage budgets can face difficulty in managing costs for both new and legacy system maintenance.

It is a simple fact that older systems are bound to fail more often than newer ones. Outages due to system failure can drain organizational resources, and can be extremely costly in lost productivity or critical revenue generating activities.

In addition, legacy systems are often incompatible with newer software or cloud-based hosting options. Lastly, trying to maintain compatibility for legacy systems is either impossible or far more costly than the more modern alternatives.

Knowledge and Training

The necessary expertise that older legacy systems require can cause a myriad of problems throughout an organization.

Often the responsible team members leave the organization creating a knowledge gap regarding system administration. The newer “upgraded” systems tend to be more intuitive, easier to use and easier to maintain. As a result, it may be harder to train new people on old systems. This means that organizations must invest in even more training on the outdated legacy systems to be able to continue to provide support for them. Think about it. This is the exact definition of throwing good money after bad. And, in many cases, the only option is to hire outside consultants to train or support organizational needs thus creating an external transitional dependency.


Another problem with using legacy systems is that your organization will be less safe and secure as a result.

Older, unsupported systems are much more vulnerable to security breaches and attacks. Once a system is unsupported, the company behind it will no longer be releasing security patches and updates to protect it from threats.

You may also lose data and important information when legacy systems fail. When outdated legacy systems are no longer supported, identifying consultants or organizations who can repair these legacy systems to a functioning state becomes extremely difficult.

If you have regulatory compliance requirements to meet, the use of legacy systems can result in non-compliance. Modern standards and requirements do not take into consideration legacy system limitations.

Missed Opportunities

Another cost organizations face when using outdated systems is that your organization simply won’t be as effective as it should be.

Using and maintaining old systems can make it difficult for your organization to grow and to scale. If your system only meets the basic requirements for supporting your organizational needs or for serving customers; what you disallow for is access to best practices or process improvements.

Your technology reflects your organization’s commitment to remain relevant. A modern system will likely be better able to serve both employees and customers. More recent technology will promote interoperability and expanded use, while reliance on legacy systems severely limits your mobility and flexibility. You could find your organization struggling to meet the demands of the modern world.

Final Thoughts

While it may seem like you’ll be saving on your costs when using legacy systems, the opposite is usually true.

When you continue to rely on unstable and unsupported systems, you’re likely doing your organization a disservice. In the long run, it makes little sense to maintain legacy systems because of the costs, risks, and greater organizational impact.

Ready to move your technology forward? Contact us today to learn more about Trinisys, and to find out what we can do for you.