Managing systems and support well

The IT estate of your average council is huge. Sometimes disconnected and disparate. So how do you, with often limited time and resource, keep on top of systems and support going end of life (EOL)?

In this blog our expert consultants James Illingworth and Barry Snow share their insights on the key points senior council leaders should consider to remain in control, and take advantage of systems and support going EOL.

Firstly, let’s be clear on what we mean by EOL, and for the context of this article we mean, the product itself is going end of life, or the support from the manufacturer or the provider is going end of life (although granted there may be alternative support arrangements that could be put in place).

Short-term action

If your system or support is going EOL in the short term, you’ll want to assess the situation and the risks you may be exposed to:

  • How critical is the system to your business processes?
  • How bespoke / unique is the system or is it very standard?
  • Are there options to buy product support from alternative third party providers?
  • Is the system running the latest version of software and appropriately patched?
  • Are there regular and complete backups of any impacted data?
  • What are the security risks and how will they be mitigated?

The answers to the above questions will influence the decisions you make, how to mitigate the risk and, potentially, what impact the mitigating action has on your IT estate.

Top tip

You can verify an internal assessment or seek an independent view of your estate from sources with the appropriate skills, the time and ability to look across your landscape so you make informed, holistic decisions about EOL products and support, rather than addressing single systems in isolation.

Medium to long-term action

Knowledge and understanding are key and two great sources of information are:

  1. An accurate contracts register that details all of your third party relationships, including software products and support arrangements,
  2. An asset and software licence register. 

Combined, the above will provide awareness of your IT landscape, end dates of arrangements and, therefore, form a foundation for planning appropriate upgrades or replacements and you will not be surprised by supplier EOL notices. 

Of course, planning product upgrades and replacement should be considered in conjunction with an IT, digital and application strategy so, again, decisions are made holistically and not in isolation.

You could trigger an options appraisal for any areas that need to be addressed, to support the review of what you have now, an assessment of what the current capabilities are, and planning and evaluation around what capabilities you need for the future, ideally looking wider than a specific system issue. By doing this you may establish that capabilities already exist within your organisation to achieve your goals without having to buy a new system or support.

Top 5 considerations

  1. Don’t panic
    If a system or support is going EOL, a like for like replacement may not be the best approach for the future. We recommend taking a pause, and considering a review or options appraisal, to help you understand the capabilities you need and how you might achieve those against your strategies.
  2. Value v’s cost
    Often, buying in capability is seen as a cost rather than considering the value an external party can add. By focusing on the value that can be added rather the cost of supply, you can tap into the benefits that can be realised from utilising expertise within the market to operate more efficiently, improve your customers’ experience, reduce time-consuming manual activities and having integrated and automated systems
  3. Governance
    Make decisions at a strategic level with visibility and corporate governance, to get that holistic view and help you make decisions based on your entire estate rather than a single system. At this level you are more likely to observe the risks and take into account the opportunities that a scenario may lend to you.
  4. Think big
    With EOL comes opportunity to innovate. It’s an opportunity for you to be better positioned to achieve your strategic goals, be that digital capability, customer experience, technology or sustainability. If the system or support you have is going EOL, that will be for a reason; it’s probably been around a while and is possibly aged and no longer meets your needs, or those of your customers.
  5. Dual perspective
    You are more likely to achieve success when you consider your approach from a dual perspective; from the top, consider if your decisions and actions are aligned to your vision and strategic direction, and from the bottom, consider how well the foundations of your organisation – your applications, systems, people and processes – enable you to achieve your ambitions.

    This approach will help you understand where you are, where you’d like to get to, and then you can roadmap your way through. And that is where the opportunities will arise, and benefits realisation occurs.


Having solid foundations in place means you won’t hit problems with your systems or support going EOL, instead potential crises become opportunities. You have an opportunity to optimise the way you work, and that won’t always mean bringing in new systems. A review of your application portfolio and an options appraisal can be a good starting point and even wider than that an enterprise architecture view would be advantageous, to help you make holistic, strategic, decisions fit for the future.

Socitm Advisory has helped over 100 councils with their transformation journeys, find out more.

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Get in touch or book a meeting with our Account Director, Alex Fillingham, to discuss your transformation journey with us.