When did you first utilize computer systems in your company? Do your systems date back to the 1960’s? 70’s? Are key systems over 20 years old? Do you use vendor software that was written over 20 years ago? The age of the systems is not the real issue. The real issue is how well your systems meet your current business requirements.
It is not unusual to find major systems for order processing, inventory, manufacturing, or other key aspects of your business operations that were originally written or purchased many years ago. Often times you know that there are limitations, but these systems still process your orders, get your merchandise shipped, your customers billed, and perform other critical functions.
What many companies often miss is what these systems are costing your enterprise. Everyone looks at a new project, the cost of buying or building a new system, but few look at the cost of maintaining and running an existing system. Often times systems are supplemented with additional systems on PC’s, the Internet via 3rd party vendors, or even involve manual processing to perform tasks not performed by your systems. These additional systems and costs are a big part of the total cost of your existing systems. Vendor systems have annual maintenance fees that may cost you thousands of dollars and provide a marginal return on your investment.
Often your systems are written in obsolete or rapidly becoming obsolete programming languages that have a shrinking population of skilled people to maintain and support. You may be running on machines sold by major vendors like IBM, Sun, HP, or other vendor that today run the risk of becoming obsolete and being withdrawn from the market place. Obsolete machines, computer operating systems, and programming languages can put you at great risk if the vendors you utilize drop them.
My book “Managing Computer Systems in the 21st Century” shows you how to conduct an objective assessment of your computer systems and your IT staff to determine how well your systems and IT department are meeting the current needs of your enterprise.