How many of us are still running unsupported vendor software products? More than you would expect. Based on our experience, Clearpoint would suggest that there are several reasons for this, the most prominent being:
Recognition of the need for version upgrades and the attendant resource requirements for them are rarely considered during product acquisition, implementations and modifications. We have seen version upgrade issues being mentioned during these processes but rarely included in detailed planning or budgeting forecasts. During discussions of “Total Cost of Ownership” for a product, the primary cost brought forth is usually the annual software maintenance fee. The cost of version upgrades is sometimes downplayed or overlooked.
Budgeting for version upgrades
Clearpoint’s experience has taught us that the major cost of a version upgrade is the development and testing of the version upgrade process. These activities can take technical resource time, user resource time and hardware resources when properly done. It is costs related to these items that make the version upgrade daunting, especially if not planned and budgeted for. Loosely identifying a version upgrade process and estimating the potential resource requirements a few years before it is required will serve an organization well.
Including these costs in the long range IT budgeting process early in the process will allow the costs to be seen by senior management early enough to determine how to plan for them. Our experience has shown us that senior management has an understanding of a software product going out of support. Planning for this eventuality is something most senior management is willing to do, if it is done well in advance of the need.
Support staff turnover
Oftentimes, the people that have been designated with the long term task of version upgrades leave an organization before the upgrade is to be performed. New staff coming on board is unaware of this responsibility until the version upgrade is critically needed. Planning documentation is lost or lacking and the version upgrade planning process has to be re-developed by the new staff. Ensuring planning documentation is in place and accessible can mitigate this issue. Also, keeping the version upgrade activity on senior management’s radar can serve as a touchpoint for making sure the activity is not forgotten.
Complex interrelationships between products and versions
Version upgrades can often have significant effects on other systems, particularly with operating systems and database system version upgrades. Also, with application software, upgrading to a new version might re quire upgrading operating systems or database software version. These complexities can oftentimes be show-stopper issues for version upgrades and lead to an organization having to run multiple versions of operating systems and database software.
When this becomes the case, organizations must be prepared to bear the cost of running multiple versions of software to deal with these complex interrelationships. Identifying these situations and budgeting for their support is the best way to mitigate the issue.
Clearpoint has the experience and knowledge to help your organization plan, staff and execute the simplest to the more complex software version upgrades. We have tackled just about every type of upgrade imaginable. Contact Doug Fortner, Director of Project Services. He is ready to talk project services with you!
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