Tom Schenkenberg

Tom Schenkenberg
January 21, 2019

Updating business software also a conscious choice for custom software

No matter what kind of business software you’re working with, keeping it up to date is always necessary. Also with custom software. Although you can make choices in your update and upgrade policy. But do this consciously, because the consequences vary greatly. And you notice that in the extent to which business software supports your users and business. And it also strongly determines how securely your organization works. Have you already made a choice?

How does your software keep up to date?

Whether your organization works with [standard, custom business software or a mix form](/blog/2017/02/wordt-het-maatwerk-standaardsoftware-de-ideale-mix/However, it needs to be regularly updated in order to make improvements available. From fixed defects, speed improvements and data leaks that have been plugged to solutions to other security problems or making new features available to users. And sometimes a major new version comes out that users need to upgrade to in order to continue receiving new updates and support.

How you deal with this is similar to the choices you make when you have your own car. Do you drive it up and then buy a new one? Or do you replace it every two or four years? It’s a choice. Business software is about a similar issue. Do you keep up with every update or not? You can also upgrade everything at once every year based on the idea ‘don’t touch it if it works’. You often have to accept higher costs and more ‘hassle’ during the migration.

Also update custom business software

Custom software also needs to be updated to stay up to date. But normally no updates will appear, unless you modify the software yourself or have it modified. This is very stable and you decide when the software is updated. Changes are then usually the result of new functional requirements from the business, changing regulations (such as the privacy legislation AVG) or new user expectations. But often ‘don’t touch it if it works’ applies. With stability for everything, because updates not only provide solutions to detected problems, but also the chance of introducing new problems with the software.

And this is where it often goes wrong. Custom software doesn’t get the attention it needs. In addition to new functional possibilities, this software also needs to be kept up to date. Even if the functionalities remain the same. That is really not only reserved for standard software.

Planning and budgeting software upgrades

The most difficult for organizations are the upgrades. As a result, vendors sometimes force their users to upgrade in order to remain entitled to updates and support. They do this (if it is right) because they have replaced or greatly improved the architecture of the software. With a new ‘back end’ of the software that is more stable, faster, safer and more robust. This only requires migration to a new platform.

For users, such migrations are difficult and time consuming. But in order to keep the software up to date, this is necessary. Also for custom software you need to plan and budget these upgrades for the infrastructure. If you don’t, you end up with poorly maintainable legacy software. It is inflexible and no longer ‘up-to-date’. The bitter end is a complete renovation or rebuild the software. And that causes costs and the unwarranted image of custom software as ‘expensive and inflexible’.

Choose consciously, also for the consequences

What do you choose? Keep in mind that custom software also needs to be maintained on a regular basis. If you don’t, you get exactly the same as with standard software: after a few years an expensive and time-consuming upgrade to a new version. With custom software this means rebuilding or renovating. So is it going to stay up to date or are you going to stretch things for a few years and then build something new? Choose consciously and bear the consequences. Legacy software is also a choice. A business choice.


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