Three Application Archiving Approaches: Which One is Your Organization?

Organizations approach managing product application content in different ways. There are a variety of decision drivers, but overall, we’ve found three fundamental types of organizational approaches: the Deliberate Hoarders, the Confused Collectors, and the Careful Curators.

Deliberate Hoarders

Deliberate Hoarders are the organizations that have a simple rule for the content created by their applications: save everything, forever.

These organizations store the content created by their production applications right in those production applications. While they sense that this is not optimal, they are not really clear on how to move to a different strategy. They feel that this strategy means they are “covered” because they have not disposed of anything that they may be asked to produce.

There are at least two serious problems, with this strategy, however.

  • Cost and performance. When an application generates content over a long period of time, the footprint of the application grows. Every operation takes longer, because the data set is larger, meaning that performance suffers. And storing content, whether it is in the cloud or on your own storage devices, costs money — which means that storing inactive, out-of-date content wastes money.
  • Risk. If you keep everything, then when a subpoena arrives requesting documents relating to one subject, you will have to produce more documents than you would have had you been managing the records based on a defined retention schedule. And the extra documents and records you provide may have incriminating information within their contents, not just about the subject at hand but on other unrelated topics.

Confused Collectors

Confused Collectors have strategies in place, unlike the Dedicated Hoarders. Their challenge is that they do not have a unified strategy nor do they embed their strategies in consistent practices.

Confused Collectors may have an Enterprise Records Management solution in place that is used to store some of their records (such as paper records created by clinical trials), while other record types remain within the application environments in which they were created. While this group has mitigated some of their risks, they are probably not saving as much as they could be in terms of content storage. And they have another problem: it is very difficult for them to search for, access and manage documents relating to one topic because those records are in different systems.

For example, if asked to produce all related documents pertaining to a topic, they have to search in multiple environments and ensure that all the documents are preserved. And ensuring retention practices and periods are enforced across multiple environments presents a major challenge when documents are located across different environments, some of which have no facility for tracking retention periods.

Careful Curators

Careful Curators maintain a complete file plan with the locations of all record types located, and the applicable retention policies noted. They move content from application environments when it becomes inactive, and manage that content in a centralized, indexed repository until it reaches its disposal date.

Careful Curators get the benefits of a reduced load on the production applications, cost savings, and reduced compliance and legal risk. Unfortunately, Careful Curators aren’t the minority of organizations.

So now here’s a question for you. Which type of organization are you now? What challenges do face managing your information properly?

Download the infographic: 7 Reasons Information Governance Makes Sense to learn how application archiving strategies are a key element of information governance.

5 Features Your Application Archiving Solution Must Have

Business users want to take advantage of new innovative applications and can’t wait to move on from their tired legacy systems. But it’s not as simple as throwing away the old application and working with the new one. You have to have an application decommissioning strategy that deals with archiving your application content you don’t need in your new system, but can’t just throw in the trash. Once you have one in place, you can start to move forward.

Application decommissioning requires an Application Archiving Solution. But not all archiving solutions are alike. The right solution will have the following essential capabilities:

Retention Management

An application archive allows you to move inactive content out of the production environment, and at the same time, ensure retention policies are actively applied and followed. Your archiving solution should provide the ability to define retention policies so that when new content is archived, policies are automatically applied based on the type of record it is.

The application archiving solution should also support litigation hold, ensuring that records identified for legal hold aren’t destroyed, altered, or mutilated until legal action is resolved. This requires the archiving solution to override existing retention and deletion rules.

Authorized Access

You don’t want open access to your archived content. A good archiving solution enables you to define authorization and access policies by role for your archived content so that only the people with the right permissions can access the content and perform actions on it.

Auditing should also be in place to track when someone accesses content in the archive and what actions they took on that content.

Report Generation

Once content is archived, you’ll need a way to report on it regularly. Reports can tell you what content is stored and the retention policies applied. You should also be able to define reports that tell you what content is due for disposition, where content is located in the system and all activity on that content while it’s in the system.

Automated Disposition (destruction) based on Workflows

Content migrated to an application archive doesn’t live there forever. Retention policies include disposition rules that identify when it is no longer necessary to store a record.

Automated disposition is the process of the system automatically destroying a record or group of records, kicked off by a workflow process defined in the archiving solution.

Tiered Storage

Your archive will grow as you do business, and this means you will need increasingly more storage. A good application archiving solution will provide tiered storage enabling you to move records to lower cost storage tiers as they age.

Tiered storage not only ensures all your archived content is accessible, with the most recently archived content more readily accessible in higher storage tiers but it also helps reduce the cost of the archive without affecting compliance.

You can learn more about how these features work together to support application archiving in our whitepaper: IT Leaders Guide to Application Decommissioning.

 

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Don’t Take the Trash With You

When business users want to move to a “next generation” enterprise application, it’s an exciting time for them. Take for example the HR manager moving from Oracle to WorkDay, eager to move to a modern user interface with native support for mobile and all kinds of new functionality.

But for the IT organization, that move presents a series of challenges. And that includes figuring out what to do with all the content stored within the current, soon to be legacy, application.

Leave the Junk Behind

The volume of database records, documents and other content stored in a legacy application can be enormous. But you can’t just delete it all and start from scratch when you move to a new application. Active records must be migrated to the new system and records retention regulations require that some records be retained for a specified period.

Which means you have two choices when migrating to a new enterprise application.

  1.     Move all existing content to the new application, or
  2.     Move just active content to the new application.

The argument against the first alternative is that there is no reason to take the “trash” with you. Think of it like moving to a new home — what better time to get rid of the things you no longer need. Do you really want to clutter up your clean, new space with the unused exercise machine or the three toaster ovens you got as wedding gifts?

The second alternative is obviously the right choice. It doesn’t make sense to load old, dormant content into the new environment. You would simply be loading the new system down with unnecessary volume and complexity.

So it is pretty clear you don’t want to take your trash with you. But what about the inactive content that you need to retain, whether for business reasons or to meet regulatory requirements?

Tuck Away What You’re Required to Keep

At this juncture, many organizations make a very expensive decision. They elect to keep the old application running as a “read only” environment for the five-, seven- or ten-year period during which they need to retain those records.

In my work with companies across all industries, I find that despite the costs, this is a very common approach. Many are not aware that an “application archiving” strategy would enable them to retain the content that they need in an accessible, managed environment and, at the same time, reduce costs.

How does an application archiving strategy do this?

  • It allows you to analyze the content in your legacy system, identifying what you need to retain and what has “aged out” or is a duplicate.
  • It requires you to “lift and shift” content to a new repository where it is retained at a lower cost than the legacy application environment.
  • It provides a facility for authorized users to search, retrieve and report on content
  • It enables you to track retention requirements and trigger workflows to destroy records when their retention requirements are met.

Application archiving simplifies and clears the path for the move to new enterprise application. It lets you move forward with decommissioning and retiring the existing application. The result is savings in storage costs, licenses, and maintenance, as well as time savings for the IT staff members managing and maintaining the old environment.

Make the Move Easy, Fast and Trash Free

The move to an exciting new application environment does not have to be a compromise. The organization can make a clean start with the new application, unencumbered by records and content accumulated over years of use.

The “trash” can be left behind and the new application populated with active content. The inactive content that must be retained is moved to a separate archive where it is available if required and managed according to retention rules.

Just like when you move to a new home, the move is easier if you do not have to bring all the accumulated contents of your attic and your basement with you. It’s easier and faster, it saves money and the new space is nicer if you don’t take the trash with you.

Ken Lownie
VP Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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The Key to Great Customer Experience May Be Hiding in Your Archives

Every organization wants to improve its customer experience; they know that a happy customer is a strong advocate and a loyal customer. If it’s so important, then why do so many struggle with it?

I’ll tell you a little secret.

Most of the time you have exactly what you need to provide an improved customer experience, and you just don’t realize it. Think about what makes a great experience:

  • Knowing the customer – who they are, where they are from, what problems and opportunities they deal with.
  • Understanding their relationship with you – what they have bought, what questions and concerns they have, what services they use and have used.
  • Timeliness – helping them exactly when they need help and not making them jump through hoops to deal with you.

It’s About All the Details

Whether you offer customer self-service, a dedicated customer support team, or some combination of the two, you know that to help a customer, you have to understand everything about them and their interactions with your company.

But the information you maintain on your customers is spread across your company in siloed business systems and hard to reach archives.

What if you could get access to all your customer information easily? What if you implemented an archive to store customer interactions and other key information, and then gave your support team direct (and secure) access to those archives giving them immediately visibility into the customer relationship?

And if you stacked analytics on top of that archive, you could easily search the archive to find exactly the right information to help the customer.

And Real-time Access to Those Details

Let’s take that idea a step further and talk about giving customer service real-time access to that information? You wouldn’t have to ask the customer a million questions; you’d already have the information quickly at hand.

Customers don’t like to wait; they expect you to know everything about them and their relationship with you as soon as they reach out. If you have to rummage across multiple systems to pull information together, that’s going to take time, and it’s going to frustrate your customer.

Don’t Take Our Word For It

The idea of leveraging your content archives to improve the speed and quality of your customer interactions may seem like a strange idea, but we know that companies have found success with this approach.

One large utilities company did exactly this: they set up an archiving system to stores all the incoming and outgoing documents related to customers and then they gave their 20,000 customer service personnel real-time on-demand access to this information. They results were clear: a greatly improved customer experience.

You can learn more about this company’s story here.

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What to Do About Documentum? Focus on the Applications, not the Platform

In a short amount of time, Documentum went from a division of EMC to a part of Dell to one of two ECM Applications / platforms at OpenText.  As a result, enterprises that have built critical processes on the Documentum platform have some big decisions to make.

And there are a lot of enterprises in this situation. In life sciences, for example, most of the largest pharmaceutical and medical device companies have Documentum applications handling everything from quality management to clinical trial management and FDA submissions. Similarly, Documentum manages critical processes for many industry leaders in the manufacturing, financial services, and services sectors.

In each case, business and IT leaders are weighing the risk of staying put with whether — and when — to migrate from Documentum to an alternative enterprise content management platform. The decision is daunting and fraught with risk.

But here’s the thing: deciding when to move to a new platform, and which one, are the wrong decisions to make.

The ECM Platform is Dead. Long Live ECM Applications!

A simpler way to look at the “Documentum Issue” is as a series of smaller decisions, each focused on when to archive and migrate a particular Documentum application – not when to change to a new ECM platform.

The last thing any organization should be looking to do is to lock themselves into another overly complicated, monolithic ECM platform on which to build applications. Instead, they should look for packaged ECM applications designed to solve particular business problems.

Of course, the trend away from custom applications built on complex platforms to packaged solutions has been well underway for a while. In life sciences, the rise of Veeva software, which offers process-specific, cloud-based applications for the same classes of problems for which organizations previously build Documentum applications, is clear evidence of this trend.

Moving an individual business process off Documentum is still a pretty challenging task, but it is far less challenging and risky than moving all your Documentum applications to a new platform.

Next Generation ECM Frameworks

The process starts with assessing the state of your Documentum portfolio, identifying those applications most in need of updating and finding the best available alternatives.

While there may not be an “out-of-the-box” solution for every process, the current generation of ECM frameworks make configuration of a bespoke solution a much more reasonable proposition than building a custom Documentum application ever was. Designed as portfolios of interconnected services, today’s ECM frameworks let you pull together the content and process management capabilities you require for your particular business solution in a more seamless, scalable and streamlined manner.

One major obstacle complicates this transition process – what to with the application content stored in the Documentum repository. Fortunately, there is way past that obstacle: Application archiving.  

Archive Content to Ease Migration

Application Archiving enables you to move application content to an alternative, lower cost environment where authorized users can still access, report against, search and manage the content in compliance with regulatory requirements.

By archiving inactive Documentum application content, you can reduce the challenges and costs of moving to a new content management application:

  • Reduce the actual volume of content migrated
  • Simplify the metadata mapping exercise
  • Relieve the new application of an overly-large repository

The right application archiving solution does more than simply move content from production application environments to an archive environment; they also provide functionality to manage content according to retention requirements, apply legal holds and perform deep content analytics.

Ultimately, dealing with your portfolio of Documentum applications one at a time will lead to the point where they are all rehoused in new application environments. And archiving the content of those applications one at a time will lead to a point in time when Documentum itself can be retired and decommissioned.

ECM Frameworks + Application Archiving = So Long Documentum

Enterprises deeply tied to Documentum face a difficult set of challenges. But many are looking at this problem the wrong way. This shouldn’t be about purchasing a replacement ECM platform for Documentum. You’re only trading one set of challenges for another.

The decision should focus on migrating one Documentum application at a time using an ECM framework. And while you’re migrating that application, move inactive application content to an application archive that further reduces the effort and costs of the migration process.

The best application archiving solutions (full disclosure: my company, Everteam, sells one) are simple to install, easy to configure and fast to use. But equally important, they ensure the content you archive remains available as long as the business or regulatory reasons require.

Ken Lownie
VP Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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Application Retirement: The Fastest $100,000 Cost Take Out in the History of IT

It is only February and already some of the IT leaders I talk with are thinking about how to stretch their 2017 budget to meet critical business needs. You probably recognize their challenge: more and more of their budget goes to increasing operational costs at the expense of new initiatives.

The Low-Hanging Fruit Never Picked

The lowest-hanging fruit on the IT cost-savings tree is probably the cost of applications that are no longer in use but still in place, acting as very expensive content storage. A lot of enterprise applications end their lives with an extended phase in which they are “dead, but just don’t know it yet.” They still consume license and maintenance budgets as well as operational resources, even though their sole remaining purpose is to meet the needs of users to find and access historical content.

Why are these “undead” applications left in place?  Why not just drive a stake through their heart, to mix zombie and vampire metaphors?

Applications like this are hard to kill because there are multiple stakeholders (seriously, no pun intended).  The business, the IT Operations team, the legal and compliance leaders and the keepers of the budgets; they all have an interest in what happens to that application and the content it contains.  

Gaining consensus and commitment from that diverse group is very difficult. In the face of that challenge, the path of least resistance and with the least risk to careers is just to leave the application in place, “just in case” continued access to its content is needed.

Grab the Apple, Save a Pretty Penny

There is a simple solution to this situation – one that pays very well. Application archiving strategies move the content from “all but dead’ applications to an accessible repository with controlled access, full search and retrieval capabilities, and the ability to utilize lower cost storage.

The result is immediate, and often sizable, cost take-out. Writing this in February, there is the potential for some organizations to take out $100,000 in cost as early as Q2 of 2017, by ending license and maintenance agreements and reducing storage and operations costs.

Selling the stakeholders on this strategy is made far simpler through the execution of a simple proof-of-concept, where the archiving is done and the results confirmed — all the access and controls are in place — before retiring the original application. We do POC projects like this, often at no cost, just to prove to everyone how easy it is.

But Wait, There’s More!

Want an additional set of benefits, beyond cost take-out, that come with an application archiving strategy? At least one based on Everteam’s solution? When we archive application repositories, we enable full records management and compliance capabilities, including advanced retention management and litigation hold functionality. So compliance is increased, and regulatory risk is reduced.

At the same time, you can reduce information theft by securing the archives so that penetrations that make it past the firewall are thwarted at the repository level. And as the cherry on top, we have federated search functionality and sophisticated content analytics capabilities that can target multiple archived repositories.

Think about it. Other than retiring an unneeded application, where else are you going to free up a few hundred thousand dollars in your 2017 budget?  Money you could use on “net new” initiatives that deliver critical functionality needed by the business.

Ken Lownie
VP Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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Archiving Your Way to Enterprise Records Management, One System at a Time

Many companies spend years trying to implement a centralized records management system that includes all the different types of records in their organization. They take a top-down approach, starting with a records inventory and moving through building a universal file plan that includes all record types. The problem is that, more often than not, they get stuck in the planning and analysis stage and the actual management of records is delayed by months or even years.

It isn’t hard to imagine the time, cost, and resources required to do a complete records inventory, study the way a company performs its record management processes and define a full taxonomy and file plan. And of course while that analysis is happening, the underlying systems and processes that create records are changing.

This approach to records management is fundamentally flawed. In fact, the fundamental reason for undertaking the initiative – increasing compliance and reducing risk – is further delayed and regulatory risks actually increase. Fortunately there is a much faster way to increasing compliance.

One of our customers demonstrates a much more pragmatic and effective approach. MGEN is a major financial services company in France, providing health insurance for professionals in the education, research, culture and communication, and related industries as well as individual health insurance products for companies and associations.

Today, MGEN manages hundreds of record types created by a wide range of business systems. But they got there by an archiving strategy that deals with one system at a time. Which means that each time they define the archiving strategy for a system, they also bring that system into compliance.

A Bottom-Up Approach to Archiving and Records Management

The whole case study is here. But here is the summary.

MGEN wanted a new archiving solution, one that could manage terabytes of structured data in addition to millions of unstructured documents. But here’s the interesting part – they knew they could not implement a solution across the entire company all at once. They wanted a solution that would allow them to start small by connecting to one system, archiving the content and bringing it under records management policies, and then expanding to other systems over time.

This approach of starting with a single system and single set of record types (a record “series” if you are a records management professional) removes the need to inventory and analyze all record types across the organization before dealing with the most important records and systems.  

For example, a system that is no longer in use but still in place because of the need to retain its content provides a great starting point. Retiring and decommissioning that system, while archiving and retaining its contents, means that one record type is brought into compliance and costs are reduced, providing funding for the next system and record series.

This is a bottom-up approach to records management, using archiving as the mechanism to bring record under retention policies and other records management requirements.

MGEN started with HR, archiving millions of older and inactive payslips and payroll reports. Once the payroll information was archived, it was deleted from the production system but could be easily imported back in if required. In their case, they keep payroll information available for ten years and archived for forty years, and the archive is searchable down to a specific person or date by business users with proper credentials.

With the successful implementation of that project, MGEN went on to extend the archiving solution to many other business systems, one system at a time. Now, several years later, their Everteam implementation supports hundreds of additional data types such as healthcare forms, management reports, and financial records from across the organization.

So now they have an enterprise records management system, but they got their by connecting to one system at a time, establishing an archiving schedule for that system and extracting the records into a centralized system. In other words, they did it with a bottom-up approach, not a top down strategy.

Start with Your Critical Systems First

MGEN’s story is important to understand. You can approach your records management implementation from the top and get stuck in the “paralysis of analysis” to get something in place. Or you can be like MGEN and take a bottom-up approach, tackling one system at a time. But where to start?

That part is pretty simple. Simply do a risk and cost assessment, and identify the content that presents the most regulatory risk and needs to be brought into compliance with records management policies and regulations urgently, while also looking for systems that have very high costs that could be reduced through an archiving strategy. Those systems while deliver the highest benefit at the lowest cost, and will get the project off to a very sound footing.

The benefits of the bottom-up approach are almost immediate. If you start with a system that presents high risk or avoidable costs, you get the biggest payback in terms of value, and you pave the path to the next system. And so on, and so on.
A bottom-up approach that using archiving as the enabler of records management is very effective. It certainly worked for MGEN. Read the whole story to find out more.

Ken Lownie
VP, Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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A Simple Tool for Analyzing Your Enterprise Application Portfolio

Every year, in every enterprise, budgets are approved, and resources are spent to procure and implement new enterprise applications. We have pretty good processes for this, including steering committees, architecture reviews, and CAPEX approval processes.

What we DO NOT have are similarly structured processes for retiring and decommissioning legacy applications. What to do with an existing application and the content it holds, that is being replaced is often left out of the initial planning and approval process when we seek to replace it.

The result is that we acquire new applications faster than we retire those we don’t need. As a result more and more of our budget and resources are expended on applications that are no longer in active use.

Buying Enterprise Apps is Like Buying Clothes

If you are like me, it is like buying clothes.  If I were smart, every time I buy a shirt I would throw out one I do not wear anymore…, or better yet, I would throw out two!  Instead, my drawers are stuffed with old tee shirts and college sweatshirts that I have not worn in a decade. In the case of my drawers, the result is some disorder.  But with enterprise IT applications, the result is wasted budget and resources, and a constraint on our ability to invest in new technologies.

There is a simple tool that will almost immediately help drive the decisions and actions needed to keep your enterprise applications “closet” organized: an application portfolio assessment.

Here is how it works.

Application Portfolio Assessment

Identify every application currently running in your organization; identify it by department, function, owner, number of users and other attributes. Most important, determine the costs associated with application, both direct (payments to vendors) and indirect (staff hours and hardware allocated to it).

Score each application on the benefits and value it delivers.  Is it critical to the business or enabling new business? Is it used to house old content but no longer in use?  A one to five scoring system can be used to rank the value of each application.

Now calculate some metrics. What is the cost of the application divided by the value? For example, you may have a relatively low-cost application, but at the same time, it may score a one on value. If the cost is per year $100,000, but the value is a one, our cost/value metric is $100,000.  

A much more expensive application might deliver better value because a $250,000 application ranked as a “5” results in a cost/value metric of $50,000. Obviously, with this metric lower is better. And if an application is delivering no value at all, then, well, the metric results in a divide by zero error, and no matter how inexpensive the application is in terms of costs, it is actually your worst-performing application.

The Application Portfolio Matrix

An easy way to look at your application portfolio is in a two by two matrix. Your X axis represents your value scores from 1 to 5, and your Y axis groups your applications in lower and higher cost groups.

The applications delivering the lowest value per dollar will be on your lower left. You can label those applications the “budget suckers,” as in the example below, because they are consuming vastly disproportionate budget and resources for the value they are delivering.

application portfolio matrix

Application Archiving Gets Rid of Your Budget Suckers

What to do after your analysis?  Well, it is pretty obvious, though it can be a little challenging in execution.  Usually, the reason those budget suckers are still in place is to play the role of very expensive record storage — they are used to house content that is still required by the business or for regulatory and compliance reasons but are no longer in production use.  

A better solution to the need to retain content is to leverage an application archiving strategy, where inactive content is moved to a lower cost environment where it is still accessible. In the case of everteam.records, inactive content can be easily migrated from legacy applications to a lower cost environment and remain available for search, access, and reporting. At the same time, retention management and legal hold capabilities are enabled, which means that there is a reduction in compliance risk as well as a reduction in cost. A two-fer!

Coming Next

A portfolio approach to enterprise application management pays off in a number of ways.  Quickly identifying budget suckers is just one of them. In my next blog, I will talk about using portfolio management techniques to ensure the budget for enterprise applications is continuously monitored, assessed and optimized.

Ken Lownie
VP, Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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The Big Obstacle to Application Decommissioning

When I talk to IT executives about application decommissioning and application archiving, I sometimes feel as though I have fallen through a rabbit hole. Because just like Alice, I cannot make sense of a lot of what my eyes and ears are telling me.

It seems to me that decommissioning applications that are no longer serving a useful purpose to the enterprise should be the most obvious and easiest thing any CTO can do to reduce cost and complexity. Why wouldn’t you decommission an application that is costing you tens of thousands of dollars — or a lot more — if you do not use it anymore?  What would stop anyone from moving forward with a decommissioning effort?

That question gets even more pointed when you add an additional benefit — reduced risk — to the cost savings and the reduction in complexity that decommissioning delivers.

The best application archiving solutions reduce regulatory and legal risk because they include retention management and litigation hold capabilities that enable compliance with record keeping requirements.

But something certainly gets in the way of decommissioning projects.  In a recent survey we completed at Everteam, more than half the respondents indicated that they have at least one enterprise application in place that is no longer being used. That is an awful lot of applications that could be decommissioned but are not.

In that survey we also tried to uncover the reasons why they are not proceeding with decommissioning those applications. The answers were very revealing.  In fact it revealed the single biggest obstacle blocking application archiving and decommissioning initiatives: Lack of clear ownership.

The reality is that IT and business units share ownership and responsibility for applications, and both are stakeholders in any discussion about decommissioning.  In a typical scenario, IT may feel that an application should clearly be shut down, but may be blocked by the business. And the reason for that is typically that the business users are not comfortable with the prospect of losing access to the data stored in that application’s repository. Despite assurances, they worry that they will not be able to find and retrieve documents, records and other content stored in the old system.

Since it is hard for IT to proceed with decommissioning over the objections of a business leader, and easier to “wait another six months” than risk any chance that some information needed becomes unaccessible, that is just what happens. Decommissioning is put off, but at the cost of budget and resources that should be going to net new initiatives.

What to do?  Well, for this challenge there is no simple answer. The irony is that properly archived application content will not just remain accessible, with the right solution it will actually be easier to search and the content will be better managed, based on retention policies and in accordance with overall information governance guidelines.  So the best approach is to prove that archived content is available for reports, to be searched and to be accessed, and to show clearly the benefits in terms of cost savings and reduced risk.  And the best way to do that is a proof-of-concept project.

This is how we usually proceed when we work with customers who select everteam.archive for application archiving.  We select an application that is a candidate for decommissioning, we connect everteam.records to it, and we extract a copy of the content.  Then we demonstrate how the archive allows the content to be searched and accessed, analyzed with content analytics and managed based on good record-keeping policies.  We also mix in a little education about how important defensible destruction is, and why retaining content indefinitely is a really — REALLY — bad idea.  

A successful pilot or proof-of-concept project makes the business side of the house comfortable with the idea that their old apploication is going away.  They learn that they can save the organization money while still having access to any content they need, when they need it. It is the single best — maybe the only — way that I have found to overcomes the biggest obstacle to application decommissioning, which is the fear of losing access to content that “might” be needed in the future.

Ken Lownie
VP, Customer Success
k.lownie@everteam.com

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Legacy Modernization: Don’t Replace, Recycle

by Dan Griffith
Sales Director, US and Canada
Everteam

Replacing legacy systems can be expensive, highly disruptive, and take a really long time. What if there was an alternative? One that enabled you to recycle those systems and modernize your environment quickly? Business process automation can help you do just that.

Replacement is Almost Futile

It’s no secret that organizations struggle with legacy applications. Whether they are mainframe, custom built or simply past their prime, legacy systems are a pain. These systems take up way too much support time, are hard to update (if you can update them at all) and are very difficult to work with. In fact, no one in IT likes to support them.

There is a constant need to upgrade business critical systems, but getting rid of them is nearly impossible. It eats up budget, takes a lot of time and pulls key resources away from the work they should be focusing on.

That’s why there is so much talk about legacy modernization. Legacy modernization is the process of converting or porting legacy applications to modern technologies. You can do this through “rip and replace,” but like I said, that is not easy, or even feasible in many cases.

The answer for many lies in business process automation. Business process automation can help you modernize a few different ways. It can

  • Give you access to legacy systems through modern portals
  • Support the migration of records and information to less costly alternatives, such as an application archiving system, and it can help you
  • Integrate existing legacy systems.

Let’s examine a couple of ways that process automation helps with the modernization of legacy systems.

Out With the Old. Kind Of.

So you can’t get rid of your legacy systems, but you can adopt the practice of “wrapping” them so you can access them as services through modern technology.

When you create a new application using a business process management system, you start by taking a high-level view of the processes your application supports. You look at all the activities, systems and people involved in the process and you think about how they holistically support a business outcome.

Your legacy systems are considered one or more of the activities that you perform as part of the process. So for example, when a customer wants to review and update their insurance policy, you have to go to a legacy application that lists all the policies a customer currently has. Then you might have to go to another legacy application to view current policies rates. Then you might have to look at a third legacy system that lists current claims details against the customer. Finally, you have to put all the information together to determine if you can give the customer a better rate on their insurance policy.

Each of these activities is an individual transaction that takes time and effort. Business process automation enables you to put all of these together into a centralized process flow. This centralization of a process happens by wrapping the legacy application functionality into a service that you then integrate into the overall process.

When you approach application development from the perspective of integrating legacy applications through services, there’s less emphasis on the individual transactions you need to do in different legacy systems and more focus on the overall process.

In the insurance example, you now have a business process that can automatically go to each of the legacy systems and pull back the information from each system for an employee to examine. The process can also automate calculations or rules for the employee. You can take this a step further and develop a customer-focused web-based interface that enables the customer to view and change policies in a self-directed manner.

Out With the Old for Good

I’ve talked about how you modernization legacy applications by wrapping them in services that are integrated into process automation applications. Now let’s look at how you can leverage business process automation to migrate away from legacy systems partially, or completely.

Let’s say you have a legacy system that contains a lot of records you can’t get rid of, but the system itself is outdated, and you really want to move to something that leverages new capabilities, like the Cloud. For example, you want to move from your outdated on premise HR system and adopt a newer cloud-based alternative.

It may not sound complicated at first, but consider all the thousands of records you have in your legacy HR system that you don’t use, but you can’t get rid of for compliance purposes. Do you want to migrate all of these to a new cloud-based system? Number one, it could increase the cost you pay because many cloud-based solutions have a pricing structure that includes storage. And number two, it could slow down the performance of your new system, it certainly seemed to slow down your old system didn’t it?

Your best answer to how to deal with all these records is to archive them in an application archive system. It certainly makes the most sense. Then you migrate all your current records to the new system, and you’re good to go.

But. What if you decide you want to create a self-service portal that requires access to both the current and legacy data? How do you pull it all together easily? The answer is to build your portal application using business process automation. Then you can develop the services that connect to each system and wrap them in an agile process layer used in the portal.

Maybe you don’t want to move to a new system, but the performance of your existing system is getting really bad due to the enormous amount of records you have in it. This process of migrating data to an archive and then connecting it all back together via process automation is your best option.

Process Automation Lets You Recycle or Replace with Ease

To modernize your IT and business, it’s not necessary to replace all your legacy systems. Sometimes it’s not feasible; sometimes it simply isn’t necessary. Business process automation gives you the tools to bring your organization into the present world and enables you to provide employees and customers with modern systems to do their work.

You can wrap your legacy systems into services that are then incorporated into an overall process and make it easier for employees to do their jobs, provide greater visibility into the process and enable the agility necessary to compete in today’s constantly changing market.

You can also choose to replace legacy applications by moving to newer systems and archiving older records. Or you can improve the performance of legacy systems by moving archive data to an archive system. In either case, process automation enables you to bring all the data back together when necessary and ensure you continue to meet governance and compliance rules.

At the end of the day, you have to make difficult decisions on how to move your IT infrastructure into the modern world. Business process automation may just be your answer.

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