How can you tell if your software is obsolete?
Most companies today rely on at least a handful of software programs to operate efficiently. Although many of these packages are routinely updated by their developers, some inevitably lag behind the innovation curve.
A few missing features or outdated structures might not be noticeable, but eventually, you’ll find yourself depending on a software program that has security vulnerabilities, or one that falls well behind the capabilities of your competitors.
You might wonder: How can I tell if our current software is (or is about to become) obsolete?
Signs to Look For
These are some of the warning signs that your software isn’t good enough for your current needs:
- Staff resort to manual processes. The primary purpose of most softwares is to take a process that used to be done manually, and either automate it or make it easier. If you notice your employees are avoiding the software to perform a duty in an alternative manner, especially by hand, that’s a sign the software isn’t the latest and greatest. Occasionally, you’re apt to have an individual on the team who struggles to adapt to software-based procedures, but if most of the team appears to be struggling, something is clearly wrong.
- The main function of the software isn’t working properly. Most apps have a central function, with peripheral features to support it. For example, you might use the program to accomplish financial forecasting, or keep track of your clients. If it feels like this main function isn’t being accomplished fully or efficiently, this could be a sign that the software is obsolete. Now this can be a fairly subjective issue, but you’ll sometimes get solid feedback; for example, if your forecasts are consistently wrong, and you’ve ruled out other potential factors, your software could be the essence of the problem.
- Your business partners don’t see the benefits. The leaders within an organization are usually responsible for making sure the outfit works as well as possible. If the people at the top start to question the benefits of the software, that’s a bad sign. Again, some folks may simply have a hard time understanding how a software program works (including how it may save time or add functionality), but if the software is regularly unhelpful, you may have to replace it.
- This software is noticeably slower. Compare your software to other apps and programs that run on the same machine. Does it seem as if this one runs much slower? If so, you can read this as a sign that this iteration of the software is probably a few generations behind the curve. Most developers prioritize usability in their updates, so if this program lags, the ongoing maintenance on it could be subpar.
- Computers are freezing or crashing. The same can be said if your software has a tendency to cause other computers to freeze, and even crash. If employees frequently mention having to shut down and restart their computers after use of this software, especially if you can establish that it’s not isolated to any one device, this is another sign the software is obsolete.
- Employees are complaining. Some problems can be harder to identify, but employees — the people who use the software on a daily basis — will eventually root them out. Your workers might complain that the UI is counterintuitive, or a feature isn’t working the way it’s supposed to, or that it’s hard to get support when they need it. If such complaints are common, and company-wide, the software is to blame.
- Your needs have changed, but the software hasn’t. Has your business undergone a recent evolution, or a growth spurt? Are you starting new procedures or adding new products and services? If any of these are the case, but your software hasn’t grown along with you, it may be overdue for an upgrade.
- The software has gone years without an update. Finally, check the last time the program was updated. It’s vital to keep your software updated regularly. Most developers support their products by issuing patches and updates multiple times a year. If it’s been more than a year since the last one was issued, the developers may no longer care about this product, and that means it’s probably no longer secure.
Choosing an Upgrade
Once you establish your software may be obsolete, you need to upgrade right away. Depending on what you’re using it for, you could find hundreds of options available on the market … and if those aren’t enough to meet your needs, you might be able to have one custom-made from scratch.
Take inventory of your current needs, and make a snapshot of your budget. When you evaluate potential replacements, make sure you vet the development team behind each one.
Does the product look like it will receive regular support in the form of regular updates? You’ll want a product that grows with the times.