BiiG Legacy Systems for Good and for All


10 June 2024

Software Development



We recently attended the Queensland Government Business Improvement and Innovation in Government (BiiG) festival as an exhibitor, where we had insightful conversations with various department stakeholders about their experiences with legacy systems and captured these into the following model.

Image of the Legacy Pain Points model on Codebots

This article analyses the insights and shares our perspective as a vendor on these, merging both sides of the coin to provide a wholistic view as to how business can be improved and innovation sought on legacy systems for good, and for all.

It’s important to remember that this is within the scope of legacy systems, these are some of the hardest problems to tackle within an organisation, whilst the outlook from the feedback may seem negative, it doesn’t account for the balance of new modern work streams that are already taking place in QGov.


Overall, the feedback can be grouped into 5 key themes with some recurring patterns.

  1. System Performance and Integration
  2. Data Management
  3. System Flexibility and Modernisation
  4. User Experience and Accessibility
  5. Policy and Budget

System Performance & Integration 📈

Slow performance, a lack of integration within systems and departments, and difficulties in connecting and using current technologies. These issues are creating bottlenecks in operations, reducing the organisation’s agility in responding to market changes, and impacting execution. Furthermore, the complexity of the mainframe system, which influences both upstream and downstream systems, poses significant constraints.

Data Management 📊

Again, speed, extracting data, disorganised data sets, the absence of mandatory fields, and challenges in maintaining regulatory compliance. The impact of these issues is significant, as the data within the system is unreliable, not readily accessible, and of poor quality when needed information is missing. Furthermore, there are constraints that need to be considered, such as budget limitations and existing contracts, which may affect the ability to address these problems effectively.

System Flexibility & Modernisation 💪

Excessive effort needed to implement changes, the dependency on the vendor to make changes, and the pressing need to modernise internal systems. The impact of these issues is profound, as they slow down the process of making changes, hinder the ability to respond quickly to changes (such as legislation and machinery of government), and reduce overall efficiency. Furthermore, there are constraints such as a lack of executive buy-in, anticipated resistance from end-users, and a general adversity to change.

User Experience & Accessibility 👩‍💻

Systems that are not interconnected, making it difficult to transfer information, challenges in finding information, a lack of visibility, and a general acceptance of the legacy system. The impact of these issues is considerable, as users find the system constraining due to a lack of understanding of its workings or which buttons to press. This leads to time wastage and causes frustration for all users. Moreover, there are constraints such as people getting accustomed to systems, resistance to change whenever a new idea is proposed, and the inherent nature of people changing over time.

Policy & Budget 📚

These include system policy which leads to some monolithic release processes that allow for only four releases per year. The impact of this process is significant, leading to rework due to systems not communicating with each other, and the need for one phone call to be entered into four different systems, resulting in a lot of duplication. Furthermore, there are constraints such as budget limitations, which always seem to be the deciding factor, government constraints that require jumping through numerous hoops before any decision is made, and policy management approval. However, policy is primarily highlighted as the main constraint. These issues underscore the need for a strategic approach to policy and budget management that considers these frustrations, impacts, and constraints.

WorkingMouse’s Perspective 🐭

We certainly appreciate the frustration and constraints these systems can cause. We would love for them all to be modernised, but we must be aware of the daily trade-offs directors and government stakeholders make. Their priority is delivering front line service that deliver real public impact and the cost to do so will trump modernisation efforts unless there is significant opportunity within the business case for doing so or the risk of not modernising. If both of these are applied, there is a significant modernisation opportunity. Ways in which these can be found include looking for repeated business constraints that present opportunities to modernise and free up resource time to focus on optimising the process. Example of this could be reporting or duplication of data entry both locally but also up and down stream. If a system is no longer supported by the vendor, it could pose a significant cyber risk due to lack of security patches.

The other element that seems pertinent is that there seems to be a lot of satellite modernisation. Departments modernise business units or programs into new ERP’s or COT solutions, which is great, but these systems rely upon the core legacy system. Middleware API programs attempt to counter this but don’t seem to have delivered the promised data enablement. A risk-based procurement approach seems to be resistant to tackle the core legacy system as this is the underlying root cause in our opinion. We strongly believe this to be a significant challenge and opportunity, however not one that can be tackled without first building momentum in a set of standards by modernising towards the core from satellite systems. To read more on our philosophy and approach to incremental modernisation, please see our Jidoka (Automation with a human touch) process.

Group photo of the workingmouse team at the BiiG event

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David Burkett

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