Learning to Live with Legacy Systems

I’ve been in my new role a couple of months now give or take and feel I’m starting to get to grips with things (just in time for a long Christmas break where I will inevitably forget it all!). I’ve been lucky enough to recruit two members of my new team who I can already tell are going to be a huge help to me (despite making me feel ancient) and was lucky enough to have a great deal of handover time with the outgoing Web Manager who was very generous with his time as well as patient while I’ve been trying to get up to speed.

The thing I’m really finding difficult is the tools that I am faced with – particularly for the intranet but to a lesser extent the web CMS as well.

It has been a long time that any CMS type product has befuddled me like both Plumtree (intranet) and Stellent (web) are prone to do. The help I had from the outgoing web team means I at least I am able to operate at a novice publisher level and keep things ticking over on the web but the intranet frustrates me in a way that only technology can (as demonstrated by my very sweary Friday recently!). My team – with less of the prejudices and history with other products I came armed with have picked things up pretty well but they are also showing signs of frustration – albeit in a less obvious manner than myself!

In a perfect world I would already be implementing their replacements but with strategies still to be written, business cases crafted, existing licenses to wait out and funding to secure it isn’t going to happen any time soon. This is still the public sector after all!

In the meantime I need to better understand what I have in front of me and what can be done to make it less painful. A big problem is both products are pretty ancient in web terms (Plumtree dates back to 2004 with little in the way of upgrades since and no longer exists) and Stellent harks back to 2005 and also seems to have faded into obscurity since Oracle bought it in 2006 – though there is a trail of documentation discoverable on Twitter that has been helpful 🙂

What I’d really like to do is track down some other users of the products who might have some helpful insights that will keep me sane in 2011. I need to make enough improvements to give us some breathing space as at the moment just maintaining the status quo is frankly a time suck and if I am ever going to move us on to new platforms that are actually fit for purpose I am going to need a bit of time.

So if anyway knows anybody, anywhere using these products please let me know. Maybe we can form a support group.

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