Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Legacy information systems evolved incrementally in response to changes in business strategy and information technology. Organizations are now being forced to change much more radically and quickly than previously and this change places new demands on information systems. Legacy information systems are usually considered from a technical perspective, addressing issues such as age, complexity, maintainability, design and technology. We wish to demonstrate that the business dimension to legacy information systems, represented by the organisation structure, business processes and procedures that are bound up in the design and operation of the existing IT systems, is also significant. This paper identifies the important role of legacy information systems in the formation of new strategies. We show that the move away from a stable to an unstable business environment accelerates the rate of change. Furthermore, the gap between what the legacy information systems can deliver and the strategic vision of the organization widens when the legacy information systems are unable to adapt to meet the new requirements. An analysis of fifteen case studies provides evidence that legacy information systems include business and technical dimensions and that the systems can present problems when there is a misalignment between the strategic vision of the business, the IT legacy and the old business model embodied in the legacy.