Why Legacy System Decommissioning Projects Often Fail? – The Precautions & Processes

Monday, February 12th, 2018

In our previous blog, we took you through the reasons behind the failure of legacy system decommissioning projects. In this blog, we will take you through the precautions and processes to be followed which will help avoid surprises during the implementation of decommissioning projects.

Plan the Data Migration Strategy including Validation

The Data Migration strategy is an important key aspect of a decommissioning project.  It should include a data validation plan, data archiving strategy and data management policies. Handling of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Commercially Sensitive data should be considered while planning the data migration and data validation.

Identify the legacy system owner(s)

Usually a legacy system is no ones’ baby in any organisation and everyone is hesitant to own the system for a multiple of reasons. Identifying the right legacy system owner along with the archiving super users across all functions is vital to complete a decommissioning project successfully.

Early engagement with extensive stake holders

Although Identification of legacy system owners and super users is vital, there are others to consider. Before planning a decommissioning project, an early engagement with extensive stakeholders is another crucial activity. A general misconception is that extensive stakeholders include business, IT, management, data retention champions and data requestors of the respective legacy system.  However, the importance of Legal, Tax, Regulatory, Audit & Other compliance teams are often overlooked early on and will be involved at later stages of the project. It is very important to engage with all compliance teams at an early stage and conduct workshops on legacy system decommissioning strategies. This makes things easy at the later stage to identify and map the preservation notices, legal suits or tax exceptions (if any) for the specific legacy system.

Comprehensive Data Profiling

The Data profiling activity should be carried out in a comprehensive manner to understand all the functionalities implemented in the legacy system. Comprehensive data profiling should not only be around structured data but also the unstructured data including any associated content servers.

We had an experience at one of our customer sites whereby a comprehensive data profiling had been completed including unstructured data, however it was only found at a late stage of the project that the customer had never stored a copy of the outbound documents (Sales Invoices, POs’, copies etc.) in the database or content server. The outbound documents had to be regenerated during the decommission project and were migrated to the content server.

Early identification of records retention champion

Mapping of appropriate data retention schedules to all archive objects is very important.  A detailed exercise needs to be carried out with the data/records retention team, especially the regulations around retaining similar data which is different for each geographical area and for each industry.  Hence early identification of  the records retention champion does smooth the process of decommissioning.

Identify process around permanent data destruction

Clients and Consultants do not prioritise the process identification to permanently destroy data safely at the expiry of associated retention schedules for obvious reasons.  However please note that it is as equally important to destroy data safely as it is to retaining the data until the end of its retention schedule.  Organisations should not encourage keeping data beyond the expiry of its lifecycle.  The process should be identified and exercised properly for safe data destruction.

Exercise on most suitable data retrieval methods

This is one of the most important aspects despite adding at the end of this article.  Obviously, the data is archived for the sole purpose of retrieving it comfortably at a quicker pace when required. Many data retrieval methods available including Proceeds reporting framework, SAP BW, SAP Queries, Local/Accelerated Reporting and SAP reporting cockpit. The data retrieval from the retention warehouse should be carefully planned and exercised while preparing for the decommissioning strategy of legacy systems especially for mapping the archiving objects & CDEs (both standard & custom).


Proceeds’ Cella Decommissioning Tool can be quickly deployed and used for decommissioning of both SAP & Non-SAP systems. On top of that we have a framework of pre-built reports available to retrieve the data from the archive content server.

Should you have a requirement to decommission legacy systems, feel free to contact and work with Proceed to understand how we set up decommissioning factories for many clients across the globe.