July 27, 2023
People like to hang on to old software, and that makes perfect sense. They are already comfortable with it, they know how to use it, and they probably know a few shortcuts and workarounds that save them time. New software, even better software, is sometimes a hard sell.
And can I just say this? Sometimes software developers don’t do the best job of communicating why an upgrade is needed. New software is generally more reliable, more secure, and often has better features that could improve productivity — at least once your employees learn it.
Software isn’t a living, breathing thing. But just like everything else in your technology ecosystem, it does have a lifecycle. And when it’s time to let your tools join the great server in the sky, you do your business and staff no favors by refusing to let go.
Why Does the IT Lifecycle Matter?
The technology world is known for its love of the latest and greatest. And sometimes, to be fair, we can get a little bit ahead of ourselves. If your tools are still making your work easier, they’re giving you an advantage over your competitors, and they have the advanced cybersecurity features they need to keep your data — and your customers’ data — secure, then, by all means, continue to get the most out of your investment!
But far too many businesses are holding on to outdated equipment and software that might still “work,” but are no longer supported by the manufacturer.
True story: we recently had to send out emails to a few clients that are still using network switches or server operating systems that are well past their safe, usable life. Should either of these things fail, it could cause a significant disruption. We send reminders, we offer easy ways to upgrade, but in the end, it’s up to them whether they want to continue to live dangerously. They shouldn’t, and neither should you.
By paying attention to the lifecycle of your technology, you can understand when the best times to make upgrades are and keep up to date with maintenance. Sticking to scheduled maintenance and replacement dates will help your company mitigate potential risks and keep uptime levels high.
Pro Tips on IT Lifecycle Management
The IT lifecycle doesn't have to be scary, or cause extra work or a headache for your team. Here are my top four tips to make lifecycle management a whole lot easier for you, for your IT teams, and for your staff.
1. Don't Be Afraid To Let Staff Experiment
If your employees don’t like the new software and resist using it, all of the time you spent installing it, and all the money you spent investing in it can be less effective than you would hope.
You can, of course, train people to use new software. If sitting in a classroom while a trainer lectures about each feature of the new software does not appeal to your people, consider letting them experiment or play with it. Like test driving a new car, let people try it out first. Let them kick the tires. Let them bring in some of their projects and see if the new software helps them get things done. They'll likely realize that this really is better than the old application.
You can also benefit by identifying the early adopters in each work group. These are the techies sprinkled throughout your organization who are intrinsically attracted to new technology. Let them become familiar with the new software first. They will help — department by department — to win over other more stubborn employees.
2. Just Because It Works Doesn’t Mean It’s Working
As software gets old, the ability to support it becomes more difficult. With server hardware, the manufacturer just stops making replacement parts after about 5 years.
With software, in three to five years, it becomes more expensive to support as it gets older. Or worse, you can stop getting any support from the software company. If your IT team is struggling to keep up with their current workload, part of the problem may be that too much time is spent keeping old software and equipment up and running.
If you’re curious about where your IT team is spending their time, our free online tool can help!
3. Use a Phased Approach
In past blogs, I've talked about replacing servers every three–five years in a phased approach; budget for the replacement of one-third of your hardware every year so you don’t get hit with a massive bill all at once. The same goes for software, but cloud-based solutions present a huge step forward in lifecycle management.
Software developers are making software lifecycle management much easier by moving to subscription models as older versions of their software reach their end-of-support dates, like Microsoft Exchange Server 2013. Paying a monthly fee instead of owning your software outright can be frustrating, but the advantages definitely make it worth your while.
If you haven’t yet switched to cloud-based tools, just don’t get in a position where you have software that’s so old it can't be fixed cost-effectively, and it leaves your organization vulnerable to attacks.
4. Consider Outsourcing Lifecycle Management to an IT Provider
Even if you have a capable in-house team, you probably want them to focus on helping you achieve your goals.
Getting an in-depth technology assessment from an IT provider every so often can help you find hidden risks in your tools and infrastructure, boost your cybersecurity posture, alert you to solutions that have already worked well at businesses like yours, and provide a five-year technology roadmap of what should be upgraded as soon as possible and what can wait — according to your business’s unique risks and goals.
Click below to learn a bit more about how we can make lifecycle management easier going forward.