Legacy Systems: The Pain They Are Causing... and Why They Aren’t Meeting Your Data Needs

Many companies promote innovation and product development, but are leveraging the same systems they've been using for the last twenty years. Systems, like ERPs and PLMs, have a purpose, but what they aren’t built to manage specification data.

Posted on 
July 13, 2023
Matthew Wright
Founder & CEO, Specright
State of Spec Management Webinar

It’s amazing to me that companies that promote innovation and product development are leveraging the same systems they were twenty, thirty years ago. Don’t get me wrong, these systems, like ERPs and PLMs, have a purpose… but what they aren’t built to do is manage specification data.

Yet, many companies are leveraging these legacy systems to try and manage this granular level data.

And, guess what? It's not working

Times have changed and technology has advanced but the reality is teams are still out of touch with the challenges these systems are causing, especially when it comes to Specification Management. 

From maintenance challenges to integration difficulties and security risks, these systems may have their place, but as your foundation for data management, they are sub-optimal. 

Now more than ever, the use of purpose-built systems for Specification Management, such as Specright’s platform, are a must to run and scale a successful business.      

The Presence of Legacy Systems 

You would think that with today’s technological advancements and industry growth companies would be looking to continuously improve their management systems - but unfortunately for most companies, this is not the case. 

Back in April, Specright led the second State of Specification Management Survey (the first being back in 2021) to gain a better understanding of how people are managing their data today. 

In the survey, respondents were asked what tool(s) their company was using to manage their specification data today - and the data showed that teams are still relying heavily on legacy methods such as spreadsheets (Excel), email, and shared drives to manage their data. ERPs and PLMs were also listed.

And, whether it’s siloed data or the lack of collaboration, many companies are recognizing the challenges that these systems are driving across their teams, but seem hesitant to take action. I get it, change is hard. But, sometimes it’s the right thing to do. Not just for your business but for your teams.

Figure 1. What tools companies are using to manage specifications today 

Legacy Systems: A Company Challenge Driver  

The obstacles that legacy systems cause seem unique to every company but the challenges they present seem to be common across industries. In fact, 75% of our survey respondents stated that they saw a need for better Specification Management in their organization.

With a lack of features and flexibility to handle the complex product and packaging specifications businesses have, companies should be looking to replace legacy systems with purpose-built systems. 

As defined in Gartner’s recent Market Guide for Packaging and Product Specification Management, Purpose-Built (PPSCM) applications have the power to address the specific needs and challenges that come along with managing package and product specification data. 

These systems are dynamic and go beyond just having packaging and product specifications as an additional function or capability.   

Webinar: The State of Specification Management 

In Specright’s upcoming webinar on The State of Specification Management John Blake, Senior Director Analyst and Packaging Engineering and Supply Chain Applications Specialist at Gartner will share his perspective on the value of replacing legacy systems with these purpose-built specification management systems.

Laura Berlanga, Product Innovation and Research Manager for Ocean Mist Farms will also join the webinar discussion to talk more about their Specification Management Journey. As the largest grower of artichokes in the U.S., Ocean Mist was being held back by legacy systems and manual processes. 

A bonus for those who register for the webinar… you’ll receive early access to our comprehensive State of Specification Management report. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn how you can become a change maker at your company, but implement a spec-first approach. 


Matthew Wright

Matthew Wright is the founder & CEO of Specright, the first cloud-based platform for Specification Management. Specright has been recognized by Fast Company’s prestigious Most Innovative Companies list, named a Gartner Cool Vendor, and as one of the Top Places to Work by the OC Register and Built in LA. Wright is also a published author and his book, “The Evolution of Products and Packaging,”was named to the Amazon Hot New Release List for Industrial Relations Business and has a five star rating. 

Prior to founding Specright, Wright spent more than 25 years in the packaging industry, holding leadership positions at International Paper, Temple Inland, and rightPAQ — a packaging company he co-founded. He has also been involved in leading multiple M&A deals in the packaging industry, currently sits on the MSU School of Packaging and Industry Advisory Board and previously served on the Packaging Advisory Board at Cal-Poly San Luis Obispo.

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