One of the top challenges facing software product companies and organizations is upgrading their software applications without causing any significant impact to customers and without costing more than budgeted. If you do not have your applications in the cloud this becomes even more daunting.
Let’s face it, software upgrade has a bad reputation. Dreaded by IT professionals, business owners and end users alike. This results in upgrades that are often delayed and many times avoided completely. Unfortunately, this head-in-the-sand practice may cause more issues and prevent small short-term challenges from being addressed.
Benefiting from the latest and greatest
Every software product company knows and should have a strategy for regularly upgrading its software based on the nature of its software, industry segment and its customer expectations.
Since technology is moving at the speed of light (and beyond) not having the latest trends integrated into your product or the latest version of the tools you use can put your business at a very large disadvantage. What business can risk not continually adding customers or users? The answer is none!
Simply said you cannot afford to fall behind due to your apprehension to upgrading your software applications. The Best Strategy is to clearly communicate internally the consequences and benefits of the upgrade and to have the plan clearly documented to alleviate any concerns.
What would that strategy look like?
- Scheduling the software upgrades to include feature updates as well as coding fixes
- Keeping up on trends to ensure your applications help you increase revenue
- Reduce customization, as it may cause additional upgrading schedule.
- Moving to internet architecture to increase ability to upgrade on the fly
- Maybe have production and testing ERP environments running simultaneously to decrease your downtime/ lag-time and increase your feature/security upgrade time-table
- Increase security upgrades to your software applications
- Increase your ability to integrate other software technology which may increase ROI
I’m sure it sounds obvious, but a solid strategy is key to a successful upgrade. With your documentation in place, mapping out the who and what and when will provide the necessary support while reducing the downtime. A cohesive team needs to be onboard for the upgrade process to move smoothly, even when there is a possibility of derailment from surprises.
Organization & upgrading procedure
Documentation and planning are the key events with your software upgrade strategy. Knowing your baseline and what you want to specifically do will help reduce the potential risks and increase your opportunities for your implementation.
The prep work involved in Software Upgrade may include:
- Review your architecture
- Understand your customization
- Understand your integrations
- Documented current system specs
- Knowing your databases and their limitations
- Having your workflows diagrammed and understand the coding for them
- Having all of your environment variables fully documented
Everyone involved in this process should have a complete understanding of the environment and they should be enabled to help identify the potential pitfalls.
Ensuring your entire enterprise / team and all the relevant stakeholders understand the strategy by setting expectations and communicating clearly will make this process a more positive one.
Security upgrades need to be addressed
A better user experience and functional improvements is very important when your business is reliant upon the software to generate revenue. While the the value may not be immediately seen and felt, security upgrades are not optional. Malware and the hackers that create security threats are moving as fast as the world will let them. Including the latest and most up-to-date protection against such threats can be as revenue positive as feature and user upgrades because you cannot risk a social media storm from lax security protocols which will include reducing your customers.
Performance is key for usability
Security patches aren’t the only minor updates that will make a major difference. Performance upgrades usually do not receive the same focus as the larger more flashy items that improve your product, but are crucial to your operation, and will make huge difference in the day-to-day use of your applications.
Enlisting Experts to keep your software running smoothly!
Traditionally, the software upgrade model often relies on an external services team which can provide specific expertise throughout the upgrade process. This is a great choice for companies with more complex software. While some organizations or projects may not require this level of service, you may still benefit from having an outside services team to perform these support and maintenance services, as they will have an objective view of your software and its potential.