Software Update: Do You Really Need It?

I watch those people get a sleeping bag and camp in front of the Apple Store days before the next generation of iPhones goes on sale and I shake my head.

"Why? Do you really need the latest and greatest the minute it appears?"

Business owners must feel the same when software makers offer upgrades and the employees say they "need" the latest upgrade. And the owner looks at the cost and shakes their head. I have tried to teach my children the difference between a "need" and a "want." And while your employees aren't children, they need to understand a good reason for a software update, and a bad reason for a software update. So here goes:

BAD REASON: Microsoft just released a new version of Office. So what? Does it have something we need? Will it make us more productive?

GOOD REASON:  Mission critical updates release. The update contains critical software changes in key areas (for instance: database, main transaction system or enterprise resource programs)

GOOD REASON:  Your software program was written and installed before 1995. Even if still functional, at a minimum, it cannot comply with basic security regulations.  You are exposing your customers and your company.

GOOD REASON: Needed for complete reporting. Data from your finance, transaction, inventory or other critical systems cannot be integrated or interfaced with other software for complete reporting.

BAD REASON: Cannot readily pull analytics or dashboard style reporting.  This can be achieved by purchasing business intelligence software – a minor cost compared to system upgrade.

BAD REASON: "Just because." Your staff would like to use the same version as they do on their home computer. Yes. And people in hell want ice water. OK, that's mean, but satisfying the desires of an employee who wants the latest version "Just because" is wasteful spending.

GOOD REASON: Old software wastes time. If your support staff is constantly "rebooting" or spending excessive time manually pulling information together, it's time to upgrade. Software upgrades that add productive time are definitely worth the investment.

BAD REASON: There's magic in the cloud. You heard you can move to the cloud-based solution and cut staff.  Listen, people: The cloud is not magic, it still requires support and maintenance by you or by the vendor at a cost.

Keep this list handy. Pull it out when there is a software upgrade offered. Review. And either shake your head, or nod "yes." But make an informed decision.

February 20, 2017 | Pat Bramhall