Simplifying Complexity: When it’s time to hang up your legacy system for a platformLet me start by saying I have deep fears that legacy technologies will force companies to stagnate and die. We all know software is a strategic asset and a critical part of keeping you competitive and on the cutting edge of the market. So, here’s my tangible tale of terror about how old legacy software vendors and antiquated processes, restricted our ability to move fast as an organization.
The Pains:It was 2015, we were a product organization in rapid growth mode. I was a Product Manager, Program Manager, Customer Support Manager and Product Marketer for a dependency management product we developed as a point solution for Program Managers. At the time, we were struggling with capacity, bandwidth and quality. As a result this led to multiple breakdowns in the process and tools and information overload was a our day-to-day. Teams were struggling to understand the vision in order to make sense of the big picture, understanding the value of the work they were doing was a challenge to developers and to complicate and compound matters further, we all were distributed making collaboration a challenge.
We had 4 cross-functional collaborative teams: Development, Product Management, Customer Support and Product Marketing. Each of our functional areas each used different software vendors to manage our work and all of our workflows had no consistency, didn’t align to the other groups making collaboration a huge barrier. To top it all off, each of us captured our requirements in different toolsets and tried to reconcile during calls. Overall, I found it challenging to reconcile all the different systems, work items, communication touch points so that we could understand the holistic problem in order to make sense of the data. Trying to design a solution to this mess just caused more chaos and friction across the teams and arguments were commonplace in our ceremonies.
- Development used a home grown system
- Customer Support used Zendesk
- Product Marketing used Sharepoint
- Product Management used Excel and PowerPoint
In retrospect, if I only had a crystal ball I could foresee the impending doom and could try to make the right adjustments, just as Agile prescribed. Well, hindsight is 20/20! Looking back on the early indicators, I should’ve saw these pitfalls.