Small to medium-sized businesses that want to thrive need to have an impeccable sense of timing. For example, if a company has a product out in the market, but the needs of the market’s users unexpectedly shift, then adjustments need to be made. Companies of this size also need to understand when partnerships are the right move, and when it’s best to “go it alone.” SMBs require a sense of timing when it comes to the effectiveness of their technology solutions. In today’s data-driven and mobile-powered world, it is essential that companies have strong, customizable and modern tech solutions at their disposal. Despite their importance, many SMBs let their tech solutions languish and turn into outdated relics that can’t offer the necessary speed, collaboration and functionality for the modern user or customer.
So how exactly do SMBs know when their software solutions are outdated or on their way to obsolescence? In this slideshow, Doug Wilson, managing partner of custom software service Breakthrough Technologies, provides six warning signs.
Is It Time for a Software Upgrade?
Click through for six warning signs your software has passed its “use by” date and needs an upgrade, as identified by Breakthrough Technologies.
Difficulty Making Changes
Simple changes to solutions aren’t simple to implement.
A business wants to adjust a monthly report from finance that pulls in data from a single source. The report is fine, but perhaps management needs to tweak the report so it includes data from multiple sources, or it’s automatically run every week, not just once a month. Ideally, such requests should be simple to implement. But if the IT staff must devote significant time and expenditures to management’s inquiries, then a review of the underlying tech solution is warranted.
Data does not flow freely, so informed decisions are difficult.
Modern companies rely on instant data in order to make the most informed decisions or offer the very best support. If staff members cannot access and share needed information quickly and easily, then they won’t be able to meet the needs of the customers. Outdated solutions that do not feature collaborative sharing functions should be scrapped.
A sea of interdepartmental complaints rises.
Pay attention to grumbles from department heads that frequently mention the inadequacies of a particular platform. Especially if there are some revenue-generating ideas they want to accomplish but they’re hamstrung by the platform. Compile these complaints and then look at new solutions that can remove productivity bottlenecks and improve staff satisfaction at the same time.
Too Much Downtime
If it does not work, you have to show it the door.
A platform that works reasonably well but is often offline is effectively worthless. You need “triple nines” uptime so you can count on the technology solution when you need to satisfy customer requests or meet some other deadline. Older software that is not updated automatically or is unsupported is at high risk of outages. Don’t employ patchwork fixes when a new solution is called for.
Your staff must have mobile access to solutions.
Employers need to first accept that staff members will access company systems through their personal devices. So, they can provide them with workplace mobile devices and/or teach staff safety and usage protocols for their own devices. Work in 2015 is inherently mobile, and SMBs should lean toward platforms that allow full functionality when accessed through phones or tablets. Data within those platforms should be seamlessly flowing through desktop and mobile applications. If you have a platform that is desktop-only, you are sabotaging workplace productivity.
Platforms must encourage collaboration.
Older solutions might allow staff members to view information or to perform certain tasks, but too often, it’s strictly a one-to-one interaction. There’s no sharing or collaboration baked into the solution. Most workers understand the benefits of being able to share and edit documents, and move ideas through the company faster and accurately. The generation now entering the workforce expects such sharing functionality (Google Docs, for example), and companies without modern collaborative tools will seem outdated to prospective employees.
SMB managers should perform their due diligence to judge if the gains that come from replacing an outdated solution with a modern alternative are worth the initial costs. If only one of the “warning signs” is applicable, the solution might be acceptable and could only need updates. Once several signs come together, it’s time to consider a replacement solution that will boost productivity and collaboration.