If you previously thought the only advantage to installing the latest edition of your office software was to give the employees “something new and shiny to play with,” you couldn’t be more wrong. Upgrading employee software can easily lead to enhanced network security, an increase in productivity, improvement of morale, and lower costs.
Like many business expenses, purchasing business software upgrades should be viewed as an investment in both your company and employees. It makes sense to approach such purchases by researching the costs versus benefits, but remember that many of the advantages of upgraded business software won’t show up on annual reports or even in accounting records. The benefits are certainly there; they simply go beyond everyday expenses.
Naturally, there are also some cons to consider when upgrading software, as well. We’ll take a look at some of the most common pros and cons of upgrading your business’ software below.
Pro: new software is more secure
The longer a program or piece of software has been on the market, the more time hackers and the like will have to find and exploit security vulnerabilities. Of course, the companies responsible for the software eventually release patches and bug fixes to address weaknesses in the software, but if they release a new version, the older version sometimes loses the benefit of that support.
Employees still using the old software will essentially be using software that’s no longer protected by the manufacturer, meaning the IT department has to spend the extra effort making sure the program remains safe to use.
When employees have the benefit of more secure technology and software, it reduces downtime as a result of custom security patches or lost work, and can help improve employee morale as they know management is providing the best version of the software possible to make their lives and work easier.
Con: new software can launch with bugs
Software companies usually address past vulnerabilities with an earlier version of their programs, but there’s no guarantee that their latest edition will be bug-free. Installing new software can sometimes necessitate a few extra IT support tickets as personnel learn the ins and outs of the upgrade, and as they encounter any new bugs that might be present.
Pro: business software upgrades offer the best version of the product’s capabilities
When you find software that meets the needs of an employee, it makes sense to stick with it. So, why not upgrade when a new version becomes available? Business software upgrades typically address flaws and vulnerabilities in previous versions, as well as new additions per feedback or design. More features are also included and old functionality is improved, creating a better user experience. This can lead to the next benefit.
Con: “don’t fix what isn’t broken”
Some users are content with slightly outdated versions of software, particularly if the version they have gets the job done and meets their needs. If this is the case, installing an upgrade could cause employees frustration or cost you money that could have been better spent elsewhere. After all, why buy something nobody wants to actually use?
Pro: software upgrades can boost productivity and efficiency
Software developers continually strive to improve the functionality of their product. Each version they release is a testament to this practice. They want them to be intuitive and streamlined, which is why upgrading is so beneficial.
If you need help understanding how upgraded software impacts productivity, consider how long it takes your employees to use one version of the software for a task and compare the time it takes to complete the same task with a newer version of software. Some companies have saved thousands of hours a year in lost productivity just by upgrading to a newer version of software. At that point, it’s not only about efficiency—it becomes about being economical.
Con: sometimes upgrades are more cumbersome than older versions
It’s not uncommon to equate new with better, but sometimes the opposite is true. Even if your employees are familiar with a kind of software, such as Microsoft Word, upgrading to a new version might not necessarily help productivity.
There could be new features to get familiar with, or a previously simple process might have become more complex with the upgrade. It’s best to research the difference between a previous and new version of the software and speak with the rest of the office before making a final decision. There’s also the matter of downtime to install any new business software upgrades and ensure that they work, which can slow down the workday.
Pro: you can lower costs with newer software
Upgrading your business’ software can be a very economical decision if you consider how much it costs to maintain outdated software. Companies already expect to have to upgrade their hardware as the business evolves and expands, but software shouldn’t be forgotten.
Software that has outrun the course of its manufacturer’s protection and updates can start to fail as more vulnerabilities are exposed. IT personnel could become inundated with tickets for software-related problems—issues that could probably be resolved by an upgrade.
Con: new software costs money
Software costs can fluctuate between developers and product versions. Some programs might include a discounted price for future upgrades, or you may have to buy the software outright, which can quickly add up when you have to upgrade multiple computers. Making this kind of bulk purchase comes down to whether you have the budget, which can easily dictate how realistic software upgrades are for your company.
Pro: employees already know the benefits of the newest software before you do
Chances are many of your employees already use the latest version of an operating system or general use software, such as Microsoft Office, on their personal computers at home. They know the advantages, which is why they might look confused when they come into work and have to use something that’s outdated and inefficient.
Con: employees may not want to switch to a newer version
In newer versions of software, developers sometimes change or remove shortcuts that existed in earlier versions, or they add in new features that “make no sense” to some users. An update—such as to a new operating system—could result in the computer’s hard-drive being wiped, resulting in the loss of user data. Both scenarios provide their share of frustration to users.
If your company computers all run the same kind of software and a newer version has been released, managers would do well to put some serious thought into the advantages of upgrading, but also to get feedback from their employees as to whether there is a real need for upgrading.
When it comes to getting work done, most employees want to make the process as painless and efficient as possible. Helping them meet their professional goals and keeping them happy are both good practices for businesses interested in retaining their workforce.
While having an internal IT team can make these changes effortlessly, sometimes that’s just not possible. If you need someone to make sure your employees have access to secure and efficient software, consider an external IT team who can handle your issues as easily as an in-house staff could.