Some business leaders mistakenly believe that the only advantage of upgrading business software—accounting applications, customer relationship management (CRM) programs, productivity suites like Microsoft Office, etc.—is to give employees something new to play with.
However, installing the latest editions of your employees’ software can be good for the overall health of your business. Enhanced network security is the biggest reason to upgrade, but you’ll likely also experience an increase in employee productivity, improvement of morale, and lower costs once everyone is accustomed to the updates.
And, because many business applications have now moved to the cloud, future software upgrades may be relatively seamless, so you don’t have to break out a pros and cons list like this one every time an update becomes available!
Here are eight considerations—four drawbacks and four advantages that may just outweigh the negatives—which can help you approach a software purchase or new subscription plan with the right mindset.
Whether you’re looking to make the jump to cloud computing solutions, or you would rather upgrade physical copies of software on individual workstations, managed IT services from a trustworthy IT provider like EZComputer Solutions can make the process much less painful.
First, the Drawbacks to Consider Before Upgrading…
Naturally, there are some cons to consider when upgrading any software. However, these can nearly always be overcome with help from a proactive IT partner.
CON: NEW SOFTWARE CAN LAUNCH WITH BUGS
Software companies usually address past vulnerabilities within earlier versions 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 users learn the ins and outs of the upgrade, and as they encounter any new bugs that might be present.
While software bugs sound scary, they are often relatively minor when compared to running outdated software, which may be slowing down with age or full of bigger security holes that hackers have learned to exploit.
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Some users are content with slightly outdated versions of software, particularly if the version they have gets the job done. 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 use?
Just be aware that this type of thinking is dangerous in a small business today, considering the cybersecurity threat landscape we all now live in. Additionally, older software often loses its support from the manufacturer—as with Microsoft recently ending support for the Windows 7 operating system—and that means you could be on your own if your existing system or software does break down.
CON: EMPLOYEES MAY NOT WANT TO SWITCH TO A NEWER VERSION
Along with the idea of “don’t fix what isn’t broken,” your employees might be dreading upgrades to software they use every day because it includes big changes to features or the overall look and feel. Developers do sometimes change or remove shortcuts that existed in earlier versions, or they add in new features that “make no sense” to some users at first glance.
While people often equate new with better, 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—at least at first.
Additionally, some of your employees may have been burned in the past by significant upgrades, such as installing a new operating system that caused them to lose familiar settings or data. Both of these 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 need to put some serious thought into the advantages of upgrading and also get feedback from their employees.
Sometimes rushing to upgrade your business software is the wrong move for everyone involved, and waiting a bit will not expose your business to security threats. When you need help deciding whether it’s the right time, IT consulting from a trustworthy tech resource is worth it for your team’s happiness.
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’re upgrading 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.
Today, many software makers have realized that subscription plans are a better way to hook businesses. They’re convenient and often provide you with automatic version updates and support. However, these subscriptions also need to be carefully evaluated, just like when you’re making an outright software purchase.
Four Big Advantages That Can Outweigh the Negatives
Hopefully, the drawbacks of upgrading your business software didn’t scare you! In many situations, the advantages of updating your existing systems far outweigh the cons. Read on to get the good news about software upgrades.
PRO: NEW SOFTWARE IS MORE SECURE
The longer a piece of software has been on the market, the more time cybercriminals have to find and exploit security vulnerabilities. As we touched on above, software manufacturers eventually release patches and bug fixes to address weaknesses in their software, but if they release a new version, the older version sometimes loses the benefit of that security support.
Secure technology and software reduce downtime that can result from patching outdated software, running frequent anti-virus scans, or worse— falling victim to a full-blown data breach. Keeping your software up-to-date is a simple way to help protect your business from viruses and hackers.
PRO: EMPLOYEES MAY ALREADY KNOW THE BENEFITS OF THE NEWEST SOFTWARE
The chances are good that many of your employees already use the latest version of an operating system or general use software, such as Microsoft Office 365, 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 outdated and inefficient!
PRO: SOFTWARE UPGRADES CAN BOOST PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY
Software developers continually strive to improve the functionality of their products. With each new version, they often try to make the program more 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 the software. This “A/B testing” of software versions can be worth it to assess productivity in your company and decide whether it’s the right time to upgrade.
Some companies have saved thousands of hours a year in lost productivity just by upgrading to a newer software version. At that point, it’s not only about efficiency—there are cost savings to be gained, as well.
PRO: YOU CAN LOWER COSTS WITH NEWER SOFTWARE
Upgrading your business software can be a very economical decision compared to 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 should not be forgotten in the course of IT budgeting.
Software that no longer has manufacturer support can quickly fail—and cause a data disaster—as more vulnerabilities are exposed. Your IT team could become inundated with tickets for software-related problems—issues that could probably be resolved by an upgrade.
And if you do not have an in-house IT team today, things could get even more expensive when you’re attempting to maintain older software and systems that keep breaking.
Need Help Upgrading Business Software Here in Central PA?
EZComputer Solutions can take the guesswork and frustration out of determining whether now is the right time to upgrade your business software. In fact, we can handle all aspects of keeping your technology up-to-date and functioning just the way you need it to, so you can focus on running your business.
Get in touch with our friendly IT experts today to get a quote for managed IT services or IT consulting. We’re here to help!