Strategies for managing your legacy –Lessons learned from the past


The situation was a common one in the late 70s early 80s. A company had tens of thousands of drawings or plots generated from a now out of service CAD application making these also a paper legacy. When the new Electronic Engineering Environment was installed it was theorized and assumed that these legacy data should be incorporated into the new CAD database. Literature from numerous vendors seemed to confirm the possibility of such a goal.

Feasibility analysis determined this was not as economically desirable as initially thought. True you would have all the drawings in a new CAD database. However, the cost of import, conversion, and quality assurance for all the drawings was significant given the quantity of drawings built up in the library over the years. Making this strategy even less desirable was the fact that only a small percentage of these drawings would ever be needed in electronic form for modification or digital simulation. The problem was determining which ones.


The strategy to solve this quandary was to enable the management of the legacy data without having to digitize it, and then import/convert only those drawings needed in digital format just prior to usage. While the CAD manager did not know which drawings were needed well in advance, he did know a week or two prior to usage. This advanced notification was just enough time for a Just-in-Time import and conversion activity.


The solution to implement this strategy was to create database and a rapid retrieval, import and conversion process. The database would be an online searchable database containing the inventory of all the drawings and plots. The retrieval, import and conversion process would also enable employees to request product data in legacy format or request import and conversion.


The results were dramatic.

  • The database application resulted in better management of existing drawings as it identified the drawing ID, location, format, and status enabling employees to retrieve a drawing faster regardless storage format/location.
  • By not having all the legacy drawings in the CAD system it reduced those in the active storage resulting in less electronic clutter and improved system performance.
  • Delaying the cost of import, conversion and quality assurance transformed the activity from a capital investment creating a library of limited use into an operational expense used on demand. This reduced the initial cost outlay as well as spread the cost over multiple years when a digital version was needed.

About briankseitz
I live in PacNW in a small town and work for Microsoft as a Enterprise strategy and architecture SME. I enjoy solving big complex problems, cooking and eating, woodworking and reading. I typically read between 4-8 business and technology books a month.

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