Moving away from legacy applications is often necessary, but scary. It’s difficult to turn away from something you know and start using a new solution, even when it’s superior in every way. But if you’re going to replace a legacy system, you need to know what you’re doing. A failure to plan properly could be disastrous.

As Arbour Group points out, a survey of more than 1500 CIOs has revealed that, for the first time ever, a larger amount of money is being spent on “new technology” than on existing systems and practices. In fact, many companies are putting legacy systems on the back burner and investing in newer solutions to replace these dated programs and applications.

Replacing legacy applications is a good thing in most scenarios, but it’s not a task that can be approached blindly. If you’re going to move away from something you’re familiar with and deploy new software, you need a plan.

1. Always Test New Software

According to Arbour Group, software testing and quality assurance are two of the most important IT responsibilities in today’s landscape. New software has to be aggressively and thoroughly tested in order to ensure it will function properly in the areas you need. A failure to do so could result in inconsistencies and a lack of congruency that hurts the organization as a whole.

These days, most new cloud solutions offer free trial periods. These trial periods generally last from 7 to 14 days, but can often be extended depending on the application. Don’t gloss over these offers or pass them up because you think you’ve done enough research. Thorough vetting doesn’t hold a candle to actually using software and testing it first-hand.

2. Ensure Compatibility

Most modern businesses have a technology stack with a handful of different software solutions and applications. Don’t take for granted the fact that a new application will work in your stack. Ensuring compatibility is one of the most important responsibilities you have.

3. Train All Key Players

It’s one thing to select a new piece of software that checks off all of the boxes your company needs. It’s another entirely to have your people learn the system and begin using it efficiently.

There’s nothing wrong with trying to save money on software deployment, but this is not where you do it. Training is an integral component of successful implementation and anyone who will come into contact with the system should know how to use it.

4. Track and Study Results

Finally, you shouldn’t blindly trust that a particular software solution or application is meeting expectations simply because your research indicates it will. In order to truly get a pulse on what’s happening, you should be tracking and studying results.

“Testing out new software is always a huge plus. You’ll want to make sure everything runs smoothly and can be modified to the needs of your company,” marketer Cindy Buentello says, specifically talking about replacing legacy retail systems. “Front of house operations, inventory and accounting will probably be the most key items to keep in mind during testing. Integration with ability to handle shipping, receiving and other tasks may come in handy for the business as well.”

Ready, Set, Deploy

This article isn’t meant to scare you away from replacing legacy applications (it needs to be done). However, if you’re going to take such a drastic step, you need a carefully crafted plan that allows you to continue business operations without missing a beat.

If you don’t think this is something you can handle in-house, a specialized consulting firm would be a good investment.