Published: 22 July 2021

Reading time: About 3 minutes

“Older legacy systems are often difficult and expensive to support, lacking in resilience, and can be vulnerable to cyber-attacks.  If the underlying legacy systems fail, key government services, such as tax and benefit systems, will not run effectively.”

This is just one of the significant findings in a new report this week by the UK’s National Audit Office (NAO) entitled, “The Challenges in Implementing Digital Change.”

The report says that despite 25 years of government strategies and countless attempts to deliver digital business change successfully, there has been “a consistent pattern of underperformance.”

The report has highlighted six factors that must be addressed by the UK Government:

  • understanding aims, ambition and risk;
  • engaging with commercial partners;
  • the approach to legacy systems and data;
  • using the right mix of capability;
  • the choice of delivery methods;
  • and effective funding mechanisms.

‘Legacy systems and data’ is an interesting point for us because at AI, we partner with Government organisations to retire their outdated, risky, inefficient and costly legacy platforms.

As part of this process, we help them to access, understand, control, govern and prepare the data which is spread across a vast and often inaccessible legacy estate. Without tackling historic data issues means simply moving the data problems from Point A to Point B, with no benefits from the Migration program.

In short, decommissioning legacy platforms has to be a complete transformation in order for Government to reap the value.

We’d a good read through the NAO report and here’s our top 5 findings:

  • “Departments typically do not have a good understanding of their IT estate and its interdependencies, and legacy systems are often poorly understood because of their age. This can add to the time, risk and cost of the transition from legacy systems.”
  • “Despite a high-level acknowledgement that data are key assets, the government still has a poor appreciation of the state of the data in legacy systems and its impact on the transformation of operational services.”
  • “Data issues include the data’s age, quality and consistency across different systems. Building a new system from scratch starts with the data requirement, data model and data architecture. Migration from legacy infrastructure is dependent on having these in place, but government transformation programmes and business cases often fail to explicitly address data at the start, and instead it becomes an area of concern and delay further into the project.”
  • “The legacy system environment exposes government to what is likely to be an uncertain but high level of financial risk from potential operational and cyber-related incidents.”
  • “Implementation of cloud services is not a ‘once and done’ endeavour and simply moving legacy systems into the cloud without other improvements will not resolve all the complexity, costs and risks associated with legacy systems.”

Do these sound like issues you’re facing?

If you’d like to know more about legacy systems and the challenges faced by Government in retiring them, you can watch our recent webinar, “Retire or Retain: Unpicking the blockers of coming off legacy systems“. It’s available on-demand now!