These outdated IT best practices must die — and you must stop relying on them

Many IT best practices have become well entrenched in the industry over decades. But while many are still a good roadmap to follow, some have lost their effectiveness. Let us take a look at some outdated IT best practices you should reconsider, reassess, and reinvent.

Following only ISO standards

ISO standards are general industry standards that have been in vogue for a long time. ISO standards definitely still have value in the IT context, but they have been superseded by other standards that are more specific to the software industry like CMM.

ISO has recommendations for quality and process that are applicable in a generic sense to almost all industries. However, ISO does not talk about process and quality in a manner specific to software and IT.

Standards like CMM, on the other hand, are specific to software and hence they are more directly applicable to the IT context. The best practice is to align yourself to such standards apart from ISO, which should be considered but only as a minimum requirement.

Following only the waterfall model

Among the process models used in IT, waterfall remains one of the most popular, kind of like how “Transformers” and the new “Star Trek” movies are so popular because they are so consistent. But the waterfall model is also among the oldest, and therefore prone to being among the outdated IT best practices. The waterfall model of the SDLC states that software development proceeds across linear phases with work proceeding in a unidirectional manner.


There is no scope in the waterfall model for iterative development whereby phases succeed each other in a circular manner. For many software development projects, the waterfall model has become outdated. There are models like Agile that are more modern in their handling of iterative development.

Using manual, Excel sheet-based defect tracking

Excel-based defect tracking remains very popular in projects across the globe. What happens in this is that defect information is entered into Excel and the status is tracked right there. All the comprehensive defect-related information may be found in the Excel sheet, which serves as the single point of reference for defects.

This is now outdated because of the availability of portal-based tracking for defects. Most organizations now focus on building portals where defects can be entered and tracked to closure. This is the most modern way. The problem with Excel-based tracking is that errors can easily occur and there is a lot of effort invested in manual updates, which are error prone.

Using programs like older versions of Lotus Notes

There are many programs that retain significant influence and popularity in the IT industry. One such program is the older versions of Lotus Notes. While in days gone by, Lotus Notes was a single-point program including email and server hosting, it has been superseded by a number of other programs including Outlook and Gmail.

Given the fact that Lotus Notes still retains sticky popularity due to reasons of being able to support scalability requirements, it can be a difficult job to convince people to migrate away from the program. However, given the performance available among other programs, there is no reason to stick with the older versions of Lotus Notes.

Using discussion forums and newsgroups

Another popular medium of yesteryear are the discussion forums and newsgroups. These are generally used to serve as a portal where questions are raised from the team and answers are provided. These are in the conventional question-and-answer format as seen in the discussion forums of yesteryear. However, with the arrival of social media, this is another of the outdated IT best practices.

Social media and Facebook work pages can be a significantly better alternative to conventional discussion forums. The question-and-answer format is far more intuitive and user friendly with social media pages than with conventional discussion forums. Also, multiple answers can be handled easily with social media pages.

Depending on mainframe and CICS-based UIs

U.S. Navy

There are still a number of applications that depend on mainframe and CICS-based UIs. These UIs are quite primitive and are acceptable only for use at the server end. However, there are still several client-side applications that depend on mainframe CICS-based UI’s (green screens). With the arrival of Java and .Net-based applications, there is no real reason to persist with having to just depend on green screens.

The conventional reason for not migrating from green screens is owing to the costs involved. However, it would be advisable to initiate efforts toward migrating such applications towards Java or .Net/HTML-based front-end software, even if the costs are significant. Modern frontend software is much more user friendly, elegant, and maintainable.

Lack of emphasis on domain expertise

It has been a popular trend for long that techie programmers are encouraged to be super-specialized in programming with no emphasis on acquiring domain expertise. However, for the times that we live in, techies are being called upon to possess a significant amount of domain expertise.

True, they may not be domain experts — that is a job best left to domain consultants and MBAs. However, they are supposed to have a sound basic understanding of the domain. For far too long, techies have not been directed in that manner. Cultivating some amount of domain expertise helps in improving the quality of code and produces value-added code.

Relying on in-house server hosting

With the arrival of the cloud, it has almost become passé to emphasize building and maintaining servers in-house. While some servers will still be required to be maintained in-house, a significant number of server requirements can be met by contracting with a vendor that would take the responsibility for hosting and maintaining the server-side hardware and software.

Most cloud vendors are able to provide public, private, or hybrid cloud hosting based on the requirement. With such extensive cloud capability, there is no reason anymore to rely heavily on in-house server hosting.

Not encouraging BYOD

For too long, IT departments and management at many companies have not been encouraging — and actually been banning — BYOD due to fears associated with data leaks and hacking. However, with newer more powerful encryption standards in place and the ubiquity of smartphones, it does not make any sense to do so any more, and this has become perhaps the most common of all the outdated IT best practices. It is highly recommended that smartphones be embraced wholeheartedly and enabled to access server-side resources.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Benjamin Roussey

Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA. He has two master’s degrees and served four years in the US Navy. His bachelor’s degree is from CSUS (1999) where he was on a baseball pitching scholarship. He has an MBA in Global Management from the Univ. of Phoenix (2006). Currently he lives in the Phoenix area after living in Cabo San Lucas, MX for 3 years. He enjoys sports, movies, reading, and current events when he is not working online.

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