Successful Legacy System Migration: An Introductory Guide

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Change is always difficult to grapple with. However, change is often necessary. Legacy systems — old or outdated technology — are a prime example of this unfortunate truth. Many companies use well-liked legacy systems, which meet their needs and that everyone’s already familiar with, and don’t see the point in spending the time and money needed to implement a legacy system migration to an updated solution.

This isn’t just about the benefits of a new, more advanced system, though. It’s also a matter of the often-unknown risks inherent in keeping a legacy system in place. Let’s discuss what a legacy system is, why businesses should consider a legacy system migration, and exactly how to do so successfully.  

Why Is It Important to Consider a Legacy System Migration?

Legacy systems are often indispensable to the companies using them because they frequently perform vital functions needed to keep the business running. That’s why migrating to a new system is so important. Legacy systems often have huge issues like:

  • Not being cloud compatible.
  • Being incapable of performing newly necessary tasks or processes.
  • No longer being updated and/or supported.
  • Not being compatible with new tools.
  • Unable to scale.

Legacy systems no longer receiving updates are a security risk and all but certainly won’t work with new systems your company adopts. Without support from the seller, you have little recourse if something goes wrong. Since the system can’t update, the security, code, technology, and methods grow more outdated every minute.

If it’s hacked or experiences a widespread failure, all your data can be compromised or lost forever. Even if it doesn’t fail, your data can’t escape the legacy system data silo depriving other systems and teams of vital information. It isn’t worth the hassle, risk, or loss of functionality to keep something that can’t work long-term. It’s much better to replace it while you still can before it’s too late.

How To Migrate from a Legacy System?

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. Each company will need a slightly different approach tailored to its needs. However, there are some universal rules. These are the general steps to a successful legacy system migration.  

Create a Plan

To successfully migrate from your current legacy system, you’ll need to have a solid plan in place before getting started. It’s best to start with a detailed analysis of the legacy system. Determine what features are working, useful, necessary, and missing so you can keep the good, drop the bad, update or improve aspects that could be better, and implement new features and capabilities your current system lacks.

Talk to those who use the system most. Ask what’s working and what isn’t. Find out what they’d like to see, what aspects of the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) work, and where to improve. Understanding the legacy system’s critical functionality and limitations will guide the development of the new system.

Determine Your Timeline & Budget

The cost of developing a new system and migrating successfully will depend on your needs, system analysis results, and timeline. The faster you want the project completed, the more developers you’ll need. However, there are numerous benefits to working slower and more incrementally, testing each iteration thoroughly, and staggering migration.

With the iterative method, you’ll be able to work more deliberately, have a smaller team to avoid too many cooks in the kitchen, test each step to catch any issues with less disruption, and avoid having your whole system down at once during a single, large-scale migration. Your timeline should be realistic. Overestimate to allow for the unexpected.

When determining your budget, remember that many of the best systems have an API-based headless framework with universal integration capabilities. They’re extremely flexible and easy to update, change, and maintain, making them all but future-proof. Weight the upfront investment against the future costs of maintenance and further migrations.   

Hire Developers

Hiring developers can be tricky. You’ll want to make sure you build a team with all the necessary skills the project will require. They should also be experienced in legacy system migration to ensure they know the proper steps to take and possible issues that tend to arise as well as how to deal with them.

You’ll also want to consider which hiring method is right for your business and project. An independent contractor can be pricey for projects this long while in-house developers are often hard to find, and training and onboarding take a significant amount of time and money.

Offshore long-term augmentation allows you to get experienced off-shore developers who work solely for you without the lengthy searching, interviewing, hiring, and training processes. This strategy provides many benefits including more control over your project with less management hassle for a better price.

Learn how EC Group can help!  

Execute the Plan

Once your team is in place and up to speed, it’s time to put the plan into practice. You’ll want to detail all your goals, requirements, necessary steps, testing stages, and timelines. Then get to work creating your dream system.

Make sure your data is carefully and safely extracted from the existing legacy system. Then, the data formats must be adjusted to work with the new system. Check for duplicated, corrupted, incomplete, and poorly formatted data. The smallest mismatch like whether phone numbers have dashes could cause huge problems.


At every stage of the project, testing is key. An iterative method allows the most accuracy and testing with the lowest risk. Before migrating data to the new system, it too must be thoroughly tested. Once it’s validated and ready, migrate to the new system. Leave nothing to chance and make no assumptions. Test everything.

The Conclusion About Legacy System Migration

Legacy system migration can be a huge undertaking, a real pain to complete, and has many challenges. However, with the right team by your side, it can go much more smoothly. To ensure you get a team of developers with the right experience and dedication to your business while maintaining control over the project and ditching all the administrative work involved, contact EC Group today to discuss how we can make this a reality.

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