Avoid the Legacy GIS Technology Lock

Mar 16, 2016 -- This is the first post of a series exploring strategies to keep your Enterprise GIS from falling victim to becoming a Legacy Technology. Instituting certain measures will help you keep pace with the changing Technology and ultimately provide opportunities for GIS to flourish in the organization.
Many of us make the annual GIS pilgrimage to San Diego to attend the Esri Users Conference to discover the newest features and enhancements to ArcGIS.  GIS Technology is moving so fast these days that the newest versions are stacked with game changing functionality that provide opportunities to boost productivity.
These new GIS enhancements are so significant it may require upgraded hardware/software, changes in workflow processing, and/or an update to your GIS Policy and Procedures
Some of you are prime to take advantage of the latest software version and then there are those organizations that are too heavily reliant on Legacy GIS Technology to make the leap.
Legacy Technology by definition is any application written for an earlier operating system or hardware.  Migrating from a Legacy Technology poses quite a few challenges to overcome because it will generate a technology upgrade ripple effect.  If your version of GIS software is 2 or more versions behind, any system and/or process that contains a hook into GIS will essentially need to be repointed, rewritten, or replaced.  So one GIS migration project can quickly affect your project scope, timeline, resources and budget.
GIS Technology provides an immense value to an organization through time saving research, data analysis, and mapping functionality. Well executed GIS Implementations will have integrations into other core enterprise systems increasing the return on investment (ROI).
Over time the ROI gets smaller as overhead cost rise and economic opportunities are missed due to integration difficulties.
By retaining the Legacy GIS Technology due to reasons that include lack of funding, staff, skills, neglect, or politics, organizations are enduring increased costs which include the following:
  • Maintaining Legacy GIS programming code
  • Incorporating new layers or business processes into existing GIS applications
  • Data conversion of Legacy GIS data format to and from a modern GIS data format
  • Writing Extract, Transfer, Load (ETL) routines to intermediate data stores
  • Running parallel GIS systems
  • Developing work arounds
  • Retaining aging and sometimes irreplaceable hardware with expensive maintenance plans
Don't be a victim of the GIS Legacy Lock.  Go into discovery mode and take an inventory of your Enterprise GIS System and documented it.  Identify your Users, Hardware, Storage, OS, GIS Software, Applications, Integrations, Data Sources, Work Flow Processes, Staff Responsibilities and most importantly the Failure Risk Level.  What parts of your Enterprise GIS system are considered High Failure Risks?  What parts need an upgrade to promote the newest efficiencies in GIS Technologies?  Where’s the technology ripple traveling?  Take those needs and develop a Business Case to help you plan a GIS project to address the deficiencies and rally for support and funding.

Originally Posted on  MuniGovGuy.com 

A blog where together, we’ll leverage Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Strategies, Technologies, and Techniques to stimulate opportunities to advance GIS in the local government.

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