Keeping your company up to date with the latest tech upgrades and innovations and utilising the most cutting-edge applications is not an easy task, and for some businesses – it’s not even a necessary task, like the old saying goes, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”
However, no matter how much you want to leave things as they are, there is a balance that needs to be found when it comes to updating your technology, both software and hardware, because regardless of what industry you’re in, there is a certain level of technology you will be using, and as it continues to evolve, there is always going to come a point where you find an upgrade necessary.
What are the Most Common Reasons for Needing an Upgrade?
There are different reasons why you might choose to upgrade your tech, and the most common reasons why companies decide to implement a rollout of new programs or products include:
- Outdated hardware and / or software.
- Technology no longer supported by the manufacturer.
- Change in processes or procedures.
- Efficiency boost identified.
Staying up to date with changes in technology and processes can help businesses to remain ahead of their competitors, and provide opportunities to get a competitive advantage, but trying to handle tech upgrades can be difficult – do you go for a complete overhaul? Do you schedule an incremental rollout? Or do you make ad-hoc changes as they’re needed?
There are pros and cons for each method, and identifying what is best for your business, your budget, and your team is a business-critical decision that can’t be made just once and ignored – it’s something you need to evaluate throughout, and adjust as you go along, in order to get the most from the changes.
How Should You Handle a Tech Change?
Before you can update your technology, you need to know what you’re using, what it does, how it’s used, and how often – this will give you a clear picture of the impact your planned change will have, as well as an idea of the timeframe necessary for completion.
For example, if you have a critical piece of hardware that is essential for running your operation, you might decide not to upgrade it until it reaches end-of-life, in order to prevent disruption to the business. Sounds good in theory, but in practice – as this hardware gets older, and newer versions are released, there is likely to be a withdrawal of support from the manufacturer, and new technology isn’t designed to work with older machines – then when there’s a problem, there’s no way of fixing it, no tech upgrades available, and a sudden stop of work.
When it comes to upgrading your tech, you also need to think carefully about your team and their skills – are they being educated on the latest techniques? Do they know how to handle changes in the way these items or programs work?
Most businesses opt for a staggered rollout of tech, this gives them chance to spread the cost of the upgrade across an extended period, often benefitting from tax breaks and financial options in doing so, but it also allows time for training, integration and testing of new systems (to make sure they still work as they should), and the ability to look around for alternatives that might be more cost effective or provide greater benefits than the existing set up.
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Making Successful Technology Changes
In order to keep your business operating, your staff knowledgeable on the processes and tools, and the most budget efficient choices, you need to conduct regular checks on your business – some of the most important questions to ask in this situation include:
- What are these tools or programs used for?
- Are they still necessary?
- What is the likely impact to the business if they stop working?
- When was the last time they were updated?
- Are there any new options on the market since the last purchase?
- What skills are required to operate / manage the updated version?
- Do our employees have these skills in-house?
- Is it more effective to keep these programs and processes in-house or outsource?
In most cases, checking on the state of your technology can be done on a quarterly basis, however in some cases this may be needed more often (especially with regularly patched or updated hardware), or less often (some hardware, for example, has very infrequent updates).
Discuss the technology and tools with your team, they are the ones on the frontline, who are using them every day, and who are best positioned to let you know what you need, when, and why tech upgrades are needed or not.