Over the past few years, many of our clients have been in the same situation: They’ve neglected their document composition environment for years, fallen several versions behind, and are now either out of support or paying extra for extended support for end-of-life software versions.
The trouble is, in many cases upgrading the software is expensive and labor-intensive – not much different than re-platforming. Nobody wants to pay for an expensive project with no clear business benefits other than support, stability, and feature improvements. And make no mistake, these are expensive projects, and they only get more and more expensive the longer you wait.
Sooner or later, you’re going to have to spend the money to move off of an aged or unsupported solution. In our experience, the organizations that succeed in actually gaining momentum and making significant progress in this space are those that address real business benefits at the same time as they deal with IT modernization imperatives. In fact, it often takes business stakeholders to force the issue and drive the modernization in the first place.
Given how expensive an upgrade or migration can be, this means expanding the project scope to deliver real business benefits, even if it winds up increasing your project scope and costs. So what kinds of benefits are business stakeholders usually willing to support?
While it can be challenging to develop black-and-white business cases for these types of business benefits, we encourage IT groups dealing with solution obsolescence to partner with their business customers to form teams that can deliver on these benefits. And doing it right involves heavy lifting.
You have to inventory your documents, determine which ones are actually in use and which ones can be retired, determine which ones are redundant or similar, develop modular templates with practical levels of re-use and variables, and ensure those templates adhere to your branding standards and writing standards. But without this heavy lifting, all you’re providing is a like-for-like replacement – with a big, ongoing price tag.