To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade

One of the most difficult decisions a client may face in the lifetime of their business is whether or not to upgrade their business management software when the software company issues a new release. This is true for all kinds of business management software out there – Accounting Software, ERP Software, CRM Software, Warehouse Management Systems, etc. It doesn’t matter what kind of software you’re using to manage your business, if it’s “off the shelf” software, you can usually be assured that the software company will periodically come out with upgrades. This is actually a good thing. If you’re running software where the company does not come out with upgrades every now and then, you’re probably not dealing with software from a great software company. It’s always great to have a software company (like Sage Software, Microsoft, Intuit, etc.) continuously update their software with cool new stuff. However, the downside is that it gives you a choice…choices always make things harder.

Do I upgrade?

One of the big problems with not upgrading is that eventually it catches up with you. You think “oh I won’t upgrade this year”, and then it turns into two years, three years, and before you know it you may be more than five years and five versions behind. The cost to catch up may be more than you would have spent had you upgraded every year. We’ve come up with the following list of “Upgrade Considerations” for when you’re trying to decide if you should upgrade your software:

1. What are the new features and functionality available in the new version? Will they add value to your business? Can you quantify it?

2. Will upgrading address or resolve any ongoing “bugs”, error message, or stability issues? What is the cost of these issues?

3. What is the total cost to upgrade now? Consider both software and consulting fees. Consider any “retraining”. Consider the cost of upgrading customizations and forms (if any). Also consider any additional hardware or network costs. Many upgrades require more powerful servers and network components.

4. Are there customizations to upgrade? Can they be eliminated in the new version or will they need to be upgraded?

5. Can you estimate the cost to upgrade later? After additional new versions have been released? Does the software company impose any penalties if you choose to not upgrade right away?

6. Will the old version of the software soon be obsolete for new operating systems and new hardware? Many current Sage MAS90 and MAS200 users on older versions of the software are unable to run on 64 bit servers (which could dramatically increase the program’s speed) or on machines using Vista as their operating system (not that anyone is actually using Vista in their business).

7. Is there any integration between the business management software and external systems like web e-commerce sites, shipping software, scanners, etc.? How will upgrading or not upgrading impact these integrations?

At the end of the day, as with any other business decision, the pros need to outweigh the cons when making a decision like this. You just need to make sure you’re considering all the factors. Our approach is to only recommend upgrading when there is a compelling business reason to do so. The compelling reason can relate to any one of the considerations presented above. And…it needs to be compelling and make sense to you, the business owner, and not anyone else. Just make sure you have all the facts….