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Boost growth: Modernize your legacy system

When a legacy system becomes a liability

Even today, many companies still cling to their legacy systems and the idea that you should “never change a running system.” A recent study shows that in 44% of companies at least half of business-critical systems have been in operation for many years, with 54% of companies still using mainframe computers. But in the digital age, hanging on to legacy applications can spell disaster. In particular traditional banks and financial services providers are coming under huge pressure from the growing market of fintech companies and online banks. It’s time to throw out those cumbersome mainframes, modernize your outdated legacy systems and make the move to the cloud.

In our article, we explore why changing a running system can be good for your business.

Definition: What is a legacy system?

Legacy system is a term used to describe an application that is critical for business operation, has become firmly established over a long period of time and has been in operation for many years. The majority of legacy systems were built on monolithic architecture as self-contained, independent standalone systems. Examples include specially developed customer management systems and complex archive systems.

Although these systems have now been superseded by advanced technology, they continue to reliably serve their purpose. Wherever software or hardware — and it is often a combination of the two — has evolved over time as an integral component of IT infrastructure, it is referred to as a legacy system.

The problem with legacy systems

Legacies aren’t always a good thing. Over time, an outdated system can become a liability. Legacy systems tend to suffer from the following problems:

  • They hinder future growth. Legacy systems are a roadblock to digital transformation, impacting both a company’s competitiveness and its ability to move with the times.
  • They are labor-intensive and costly. Complex, mainframe-based standalone solutions are incredibly resource-intensive. Maintenance and servicing come at a high cost, some vendors have phased out product support altogether, and special expertise is required to keep the superseded systems up and running.
  • They are challenging to upgrade. It’s incredibly difficult and in some cases virtually impossible to adapt legacy systems to new laws and requirements. Companies will often come up with several workarounds in an effort to continue squeezing use out of their legacy systems. But these affect productivity and complicate the system further. Add to this the lack of security updates, and a company can find itself exposed to not inconsequential security vulnerabilities.
  • They are far less resilient. Legacy systems are often extremely prone to outages and disruptions that can be hugely detrimental to business operations.
  • They do not interact with new technology. Since most legacy systems were not conceived from a holistic perspective, there is no way of connecting to other systems or combining them with other technologies.
  • They are not cloud-ready. Data and functions are only available via a central location with no mobile access, and most systems are not cloud-compatible.

Legacy system modernization — The benefits

Ever-evolving technology and changing market demands mean sooner or later every company will face a decision: Continue investing in legacy systems or modernize? For most companies, the latter is the better choice. Modernization comes with a slew of advantages:

Enhanced data security and privacy

Implementing advanced systems which are not only the state of the art but also fulfill all statutory requirements helps you to improve security and stay fully compliant, for instance with the regulations on privacy and audit-proof archiving.

Greater flexibility

Modernizing your legacy systems gives you more flexibility to adapt as circumstances require, including to changes to the law. Modern systems grow with you and your needs.

Savings potential

Replacing costly mainframes and high-maintenance legacy systems can save you a great deal of expense over the long term.

Improved efficiency

Step up your efficiency and productivity with up-to-date systems that meet current requirements.

Extensive integration options

Many modern systems come with an array of interfaces and integration options as standard, empowering you to build a holistic IT architecture, flexibly work with various systems and effortlessly share information. For instance, you can create a strong solution for managing your business processes by connecting your enterprise content management (ECM) system with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system


Modernizing your legacy systems frees you from your dependence on (outdated) technology and allows you to fully exploit the capabilities available to you, like using artificial intelligence to automate your processes.


New systems scale better, so when you open new locations, grow your workforce or expand into new business areas, your systems adapt in line with your needs. Modernizing your legacy systems can give a decisive boost to your company’s growth.

Mobile cloud solutions

Many modern systems make migration to the cloud easy, giving you round-the-clock access to all data and functions from anywhere. The result: no more information silos and better collaboration. Not only that, but your employees can also work with your applications entirely remotely.

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4-step migration strategy

Due to the high complexity and deep integration of legacy systems in company infrastructure, modernization can be labor-intensive, costly, and pose technical and organizational challenges. Overcoming these challenges and safeguarding a smooth migration without data loss or disruptions requires careful planning and a strategic plan of action.

We recommend you follow a four-step migration strategy:

1. Rationale and objectives

Ask yourself why you want to replace your legacy system. What are your goals for the changeover, what do you want from the new solution? Clear goals are the cornerstones of a successful migration strategy.

2. Currrent status

To ensure a smooth changeover, you must have a clear understanding of your existing legacy system, its problem areas and challenges.

3. New system

The next step is to develop or select a suitable target system based on your answers to steps 1 and 2. For example, if your main goals are to introduce transparent document management, compliant archiving and automated, document-driven processes, a modern enterprise content management system could be the ideal solution.

4. Migration

Last is the migration to the new system itself. Here, there are three options to choose from:

  1. Ad hoc modernization: The new system directly replaces the old one, without a transition phase. It’s a very efficient but also risky strategy.
  2. Phased modernization: You migrate individual components of the system step by step, enabling you to check functionality at every stage. This approach will require you to dedicate a certain amount of time and organizational effort.
  3. Temporary parallel operation: A popular strategy is to run both systems in parallel for a period of time. While this means you will have to maintain both systems concurrently, the benefit is that you can directly compare the two. The duration of parallel operation should always be kept to a minimum.

Legacy system modernization: Guidance and best practices

When it comes to outdated systems, especially those used for document management and archiving, the smart course of action is to replace them with a modern enterprise content management solution such as Doxis. You benefit from greater legal certainty while also improving transparency, flexibility and efficiency. Not only that, but we continually work to further develop and evolve our ECM platform — so your business can move with the times.

1. Data preparation and clean-up

Data preparation is the first key to a successful migration project. The goal is to prepare the data in a way that you can make best use of it in the new applications. This involves structuring, cleansing, transforming and — if necessary — merging data from different sources.

With our four-step migration concept, we make sure that your document archives are transferred to Doxis correctly and without loss, allowing you to start using the new system with a high-quality data pool from day one.

2. Phased modernization with Fast Starters

Our Doxis Fast Starters make step-by-step replacement easy. From day one, your IT team can begin implementing standard workflows and testing them with key users, while individual business processes are rolled out in the background.

With their intuitive UI and uncomplicated no-code customizations, the Fast Starters empower you to quickly and easily realize your digitalization projects — no in-depth technical know-how required. The result: a seamless migration during live operation with zero downtime.

Read all about how Raiffeisen Bank International in Poland migrated its legacy archive with SER and how it archives information today using Doxis

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3. New, uniform workflows

With Doxis, you can completely restructure, customize and standardize your processes exactly as you want them. Use our AI-powered solutions with their extensive automation capabilities.

4. Integration into existing IT landscape

A big pro of Doxis is its flexibility. Easily integrate it into your existing system landscape, or use it as your leading system and take advantage of the wide range of useful interfaces, e.g. to SAP.

This adaptability makes it easy to combine several legacy replacements. For example, if you decide to migrate to SAP’s cloud solution, you can modernize your archive and your document-driven processes at the same time and upgrade to a modern ECM system.

5. Company-wide roll-out

The data has been migrated, the workflows are defined and the integrations ready to go — there’s nothing standing in the way of rolling out your new system across the company. Remember to get all of your employees on board with the project by providing training and workshops that help everyone get the most out of the new IT system. We are happy to be on hand before, during and after the migration with our comprehensive support services.

Turning old into new: Why it pays to modernize legacy systems

At first glance the prospect of modernizing established legacy systems is a tall order. Many companies believe it will be labor-intensive and expensive, which is why they understandably keep putting it off. After all, why should you replace something if it has worked for so long? The answer: Because most don't work anywhere near as seamlessly as they first appear, and because they quickly reach their limits when requirements change.

Making the switch to a modern system is an investment in the future that will yield immediate results. According to Forrester’s TEI study, SEW-Eurodrive generated an ROI of 336%.

Read the study >>

Intelligent migration strategies are also crucial to success. At SER, we help you modernize your legacy document management and archive systems and make the switch to our modern enterprise content management solution: Doxis.

Legacy system FAQs

What is a legacy system?
A legacy system is an established IT application which, while continuing to serve its original purpose, is now outdated.
What are the downsides to legacy systems?
Legacy systems can be fraught with issues. Operation, servicing and upkeep are generally labor-intensive and costly. The systems are often prone to security risks and are inherently inflexible and difficult to adapt to changing requirements, while lacking options for integration and mobile access.

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