By KIM BELLARD
I read two articles this week that got me thinking, Robert Charette’s “Inside the Hidden World of Legacy IT Systems” (IEEE Spectrum) and Douglas Holt’s “Cultural Innovation” (Harvard Business Review). Both deal with what I’ll call legacy thinking.
It’s a particular problem for healthcare.
If you work in a large organization, especially one that has been around for at least a few decades, the words “legacy system” probably strikes angst in you. If you’ve dealt with such an organization, legacy systems probably contributed to problems you may have had with them. Think about health insurance claims systems, hospital billing systems, financial institution account records, or practically any government system.
Dr. Charette points out:
Though these systems run practically every aspect of our lives, we don’t give them a second thought because, for the most part, they function. It doesn’t even occur to us that IT is something that needs constant attention to be kept in working order.”
Because they usually work OK, management often doesn’t want to risk the potential disruption of replacing or modernizing them, so they get older and older, with more and more layers built on them, and with the people who originally built them or understand the language they are written in (e.g. COBOL) gone.Continue reading…