EvolveWare Blog

Protecting your organization from system knowledge loss


As the “baby boomer” generation approaches retirement age, CIOs and IT decision makers are beginning to see the gaps that their departures create. The talent pool entering the workforce are trained in modern technologies and have no knowledge or interest in understanding or learning systems that were developed in yesteryears.

Unfortunately, most large organizations still run a significant part of their operations using software applications that had been developed decades ago. Last year, we saw some potential ramifications of this issue when unemployment claims went up due to the environment created by the pandemic and state government systems weren’t able to keep up. These governments needed the help of COBOL programmers, many of whom have now retired and continue to retire.

This evolution from an older, loyal workforce with business and legacy programming language knowledge to a younger, more mobile employee base poses significant challenges, particularly in the context of maintaining and supporting legacy systems that still account for a sizeable portion of most organizations’ application portfolios.

The retirement of experienced staff threatens to leave many organizations without access to their vast wealth of knowledge gained from years of experience working with systems that they inherited or wrote to help the business grow. In most cases, this knowledge, which was developed in a time of rapid technological advances and covered a wide range of technologies, is extremely difficult to re-create. This is because significant portions of this knowledge will not have been formally documented because the existing staff ‘just knew how to do it’. In fact, it is estimated that 70% of organizations have no referenceable documentation of their existing systems.

Unfortunately, the only way that their successors are finding out that they are missing critical information is when things go wrong or when they need to make detailed changes to existing systems. This is leading to costly mistakes, poor quality, service interruptions and project delays.

Organizations are often affected for months or years after an experienced worker has retired because of this lack of documentation. The problem is further exacerbated by the current trend towards outsourcing application support to third parties who will only have a very narrow view of the overall portfolio and whose only focus is to manage the immediate problem instead of addressing larger issues at hand.

The result is that replacement staff has to work in an environment riddled with gaps of missing knowledge, which leads to tedious and time-consuming knowledge recovery and retention work. It also takes them away from working on more forward-looking and lucrative initiatives.

So how can organizations create a repository of knowledge that is currently embedded in the minds of key employees? Automated documentation is a key part of the solution.

Capture the knowledge through documentation, before it walks out of the door

Businesses that hope to maintain their efficiency during a time of change must implement a solution for capturing application knowledge and making it accessible to those who need it. Failure to do so can result in project cost over-runs, the inability to respond to market or regulatory change, a deterioration in customer service and ultimately the loss of reputation.

By using automated application documentation to capture and keep current the knowledge embedded within applications, organizations can avoid having to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and minimize the associated cost, time and risk factors associated with maintaining their application portfolio.

This documentation also creates a “corporate brain” that can ease the transition of applications from the current state to the future state.

How can an automated documentation process help an organization secure this knowledge?

EvolveWare’s Intellisys Platform can automatically extract metadata from software applications and create easily readable documentation that can be understood and used by the organization for maintenance, support, and training purposes. Compared to other efforts to generate documentation, Intellisys is able to reduce the time spent to generate results by 90% or more.

This enables the existing staff to understand and share the inner workings of the applications, without having had first-hand knowledge of its creation and subsequent changes over many years. Whether it is the newest member of the staff, the most seasoned veteran, the detailed technical specialist or the business analyst, automated documentation allows them to understand the full picture so that they can intelligently manage the application portfolio. In addition, the platform allows organizations to redocument their applications after making any updates, ensuring that knowledge continues to stay current.

Will your new hires be able to benefit from the knowledge source that their predecessors leave behind? Have you provided your retiring employees with the tools needed pass on their valuable knowledge?

The Intellisys platform can help you answer “yes” to those questions.

Click here to learn more about Intellisys’ documentation and analysis capabilities or, contact us for more information.


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