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Save your software from the scrapyard

What do you do when your car starts driving a little sluggishly, your fuel consumption skyrockets or your air con is not bringing the chill like it did a year ago? Do you dump your car at the nearest scrapyard and buy a new one?

Definitely not! You get the manufacturer to check out the problems, optimise the vehicle’s settings, do repairs, and replace parts so that your car is running as smoothly, or even more so, as it did a year ago.

In fact, before you get to this point, you do annual services to prevent these issues from arising in the first place. In the long run, this proactive approach saves you time and money and helps you make the most of your car by giving you an optimised driving experience.

So why then, I wonder, when it comes to enterprise software, do so many companies do the equivalent of scrapping their car at the first sign of trouble? And in doing so, severely curtail the ROI they expect to achieve.

It is inevitable that over the lifespan of any software you need to be proactive to keep things up to date and running optimally. This maintenance doesn’t only apply to the software itself though. Knowledge erosion means that very often your people are only using a fraction of the capabilities of the software. They’ve taken on board what they immediately need on day one and forgotten the rest. Then, as people change roles, or teams expand and contract, this partial knowledge, along with outdated or bad practices, gets passed on to teammates. Working remotely doesn’t help matters as it’s not as easy to tap someone on the shoulder and find out how to do something.

Meanwhile, even if your software is updated automatically thanks to the cloud, your people aren’t up to speed on new functionality and processes. This is another knock to your ROI – these upgrades are essentially freebies on top of your initial spend, but you’re not benefitting from them.

All this compounds, and eventually you arrive at the conclusion that your software can’t do what you need it to do and that you should replace it. Of course, nothing else changes and in a year or two you have the same discontent with the replacement software and are back at square one. Instead, a proactive approach to software maintenance and management can ensure you are getting the most from your current software, and that you are making a good business decision when you do decide to replace it. I’d suggest formalised, documented annual software health checks – just like your car service – before you dump your software, and its promised ROI, at the scrapyard.

Annual software health checks

An annual software health check with your vendor will ensure your software is still up to date, configured and used correctly for your requirements before issues arise. Part of this process (although I would recommend that this is a year-long practice) is ensuring your users are familiar with new and newly required features to close any knowledge gaps. Your vendor should match their new functionality to your requirements – that’s a given – and if their offering and your requirements diverge too much, you can make an informed decision about the future of the software.


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