The first time someone came to you and said, “We can build you an application” you probably jumped for joy. You finally had software that would solve all of your unsolvable problems.
But fast forward to present day: Is that app still solving all of your problems? Or have you outgrown it?
More importantly, how would you know one way or the other?
The trouble with homegrown applications is that as your business grows, they need to grow too. Technology changes all the time, and if you’re not regularly updating your applications to match, you risk hindering any further progress.
Apps that were helpful even a few years ago may be painfully outdated and unable to meet your current needs.
If you’re not sure whether or not your software needs to be updated or replaced, ask the following questions:
[content_upgrade cu_id=”274″]Here are 7 signs you should update your software ASAP
Is the Original Creator Still Around?
While a lot of companies rely on third party software to provide the functionality they need, some actually custom-build software with an in-house developer to solve very specific problems.
If this sounds like your current situation, you should ask yourself it the custom software can be updated, changed, or altered by someone other than the person who built it.
It’s hard to guarantee that anyone will stick around your company indefinitely. People switch jobs all the time, and if the person who originally developed the application bails, you need to make sure you have a plan B.
If you find yourself in a situation where no one in the office really knows how to handle the application, or they wouldn’t know what to do if something went horribly wrong, you may want to consider updating your application so that you don’t run into problems should someone quit.
This is also true of third party apps that handle your software as well. If a company goes out of business or has developed new software that no longer supports your current application, you will need to update as soon as possible.
How Much Has Our Business Grown?
Business growth is great for the bottom line, but it can be hard on technology. New customers, new service providers, and even new employees can all add to the load your application must handle.
Rapid growth in particular can be devastating to an out-of-date system. If you’ve suddenly gone from 100 employees to 1,000, or 1,000 customers to 10,000, you need to know that your software can scale with that volume. If not, you risk running into some serious data problems.
You may also consider integrating different areas of your business into one application that can handle multiple processes. If you’ve reached a pinnacle of growth in your company, your software should be streamlining processes.
If you find that you’re jumping between different software programs, applications, and platforms to get the job done, it may be time to upgrade.
What Are Our Current Needs?
As business expands, your needs will expand as well. You may be adding processes to your sales funnel that you didn’t have when you first installed the software, in which case you may want to upgrade simply to add features that help with sales.
But you may also consider upgrading your applications to match the technology that your customers are using. Smartphones and other mobile device sales reached 1.5 billion units in 2016, which means that your customers and your employees are going mobile.
Can your employees access your software on the go? Can they make updates and changes and do their job while they travel? How about being able to work from home?
Cloud and mobile technology are changing the landscape for how people do business, so you really shouldn’t have to call people back to the office when things go wrong.
You should also question whether or not your current software is saving you enough time and energy. Newer technology can automate many basic tasks, whereas older systems still require manual input.
Automation can save countless man-hours, so if your current system can’t simplify your life, an update may be in your future.
Can We Update Our Current App or Should We Start Over?
If you had an older car still in usable condition but needed enough repairs to be more than the car was worth, would you spend the money to fix it or would you just buy a new car?
Sometimes you don’t have to get rid of an application just because it’s out of date. You may be able to upgrade certain aspects to meet your current needs.
But you have to ask yourself if the cost of updating an old system now will still benefit you in five or ten years down the road when technology really starts to change.
Sure, a full upgrade to new software may seem expensive or unnecessary now, but it may actually cost you more in the long run to keep patching up your old software as time wears on. If you’re short on cash and your old software isn’t broke, you can probably get away with a few updates for now.
Just keep in mind that eventually you will need to upgrade, so the sooner you’re able to do it, the sooner you’ll reap the benefits.
Does Our Current App Meet Security Standards?
One of the biggest reasons not to keep old software around longer than necessary is security.
If your application carries any form of sensitive data, you may want to consider updating for the sole purpose of protecting that data.
Surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center indicate that 61% of people surveyed believed that a major cyber attack will cause widespread harm to the nation by 2025.
Dave Kissoondoyal, CEO for KMP Global Ltd., notes that by 2025 “there will be widespread use of cyber terrorism and countries will spend a lot of money on cyber security.”
Businesses looking to protect sensitive data should be concerned about the risks of using older software, as it’s generally more vulnerable to attack.
If your IT department isn’t sure that your current application can hold up to a basic security threat, consider updating immediately.
[content_upgrade cu_id=”274″]Don’t miss these 7 Signs You’re Ready to Upgrade Your Software
If your current software isn’t giving you everything you need in terms of saving time, flexibility, mobility, and security, you should consider upgrading.
It’s possible that you don’t need to start from scratch, however. You could update some parts of your application to match current technology.
Just remember that eventually technology will improve enough that you will want to update everything, and updating now may save you more money in the long run.