As with everything in life, it’s all a matter of the lens you view things through. Something can look rosey to one person while looking like a train wreck to another. Often times the view of a legacy content management system is dependent on where you sit within your organization, and rightly so. But many times the decision to not replace a legacy CMS is based completely on the false premise that everything is OK and IT has everything under control. In our experience, many times the IT organization is overwhelmed with projects and maintaining a legacy system becomes more difficult with each passing year.
In many publishing organizations that we speak with on a daily basis, legacy CMS’ are patched together by one or two very key individuals within an organization because they happen to be the longest tenured staff and were around when the system was installed. There is generally a knowledgebase of small system idiosyncracies that these individuals know to stay away from because of either a design flaw or through implementing the system incorrectly. Having an IT person be a single point of failure is not a good business practice to begin with, but having little or no understanding of what the black box legacy CMS is doing is much, much worse. Unfortunately these situation exist at major publishing organizations around the globe. This is an outgrowth of publishers who don’t want to face the reality that their system is in serious jeapordy of crashing and there is no recovery mechanism in place.
So how does each management level within a publisher view a legacy CMS? Here’s an outsiders perspective:
C-Suite View – We have technology that is proven
From the top, everything looks calm, cool, and collected. Think about the duck gliding across the pond. Products are being produced, money is being collected, why do we need to change anything? Remember the duck is paddling like crazy under the water.
VP View – We can make this work with little investment
While there are issues we need to address, the technology is solid and has been proven for some time. Our team does not have turnover issues and therefore they are well versed in the CMS. Some investment might be required to patch things here or there, but we have no need to upgrade to a new CMS. Throwing more staff or budget at the legacy CMS will take care of everytihng. We should be fine to meet our strategy.
Director View – We are unable to keep up with daily issues let alone scale the system
The system has been working, but barely. The fragile nature causes daily concern that one hiccup could bring the entire production process down. Editorial is comfortable with the workflow, knows the editorial tools, but under the covers the CMS cannot be extended and is patched because the technology has not been upgraded in years. Adding more content, integrating with other systems, or adding third party tools will be extremely difficult without a large budget and a sufficient timeline to complete.
Developer View – We are so screwed
The application has been maintained by different people over time. Nothing has been documented, we have not paid support and have not received CMS software upgrades, and the underlying database has not been upgraded in years. If the system goes down, I may need to look for a job.
The Bottom Line
Every position and management level at a publisher has a different view of their CMS. It’s natural. What consistenly surprises people is that a legacy CMS can only address the requirements from yesterday and potentially not address the strategy of multi-channel publishing or automated eBook creation or whatever objective because changes are difficult and the system cannot scale. Legacy systems are generally proven, but they do not generally have the stability to support the long-term business objectives and must be replaced.
If your CMS is over seven years old, has been patched to keep it running, and doesn’t support your strategy, let us show you why publishers from around the globe and over 10,000 publishing professionals use RSuite every day.