The hidden cost of falling behind

Sure, it's expensive to upgrade but there's an even bigger cost to not upgrading.

Companies have long since gotten out of writing their own software.  Most think it's well worth the money to buy a package and either customize it or live with its shortcomings.  Now, whether they're right or not is a topic for another post, but it certainly makes sense for some.  Some things it makes sense to buy off the shelf.  For instance, you don't want to try to write your own database, or your own OS, or email server.  Those things are better off left in the hands of the pros.  However, when it comes to your ordering system, or your change control process, or maybe even your helpdesk, why force yourself into someone else's model?  There's no way they can know your business as well as you can, and they aren't coding for your needs.  And all this is incredibly subjective and I'm sure I'm going to get lots of good hate mail for this.  That's not what I want to talk about now though.  What I want to talk about is the upgrade process for those packages. 

Upgrading vendor software can be very expensive to both your bank account and to your business.  Vendors are very well known for introducing critical bugs into upgrades.  And those bugs can come in the form of outright logical errors that cause you to miscalculate a discount, or something more critical that affects the uptime of the application.  So it's for this reason that many companies get behind in their upgrades.  They get further and further behind, which makes it harder and harder for them to upgrade and get support.  Now, those are the known factors with upgrade. 

What many companies don't think of though is the hidden cost to falling that far behind in your upgrades.  The hidden cost is that any decent IT guy won't have anything to do with you.  Let's take a look at a company that we recently courting me to come work for them.  They had mostly SQL Server 2000 servers in their shop.  Now what would I want to do that for?  We're about to see SQL Server 2012 and that's what's important to me.  SQL Server 2000 hasn't been fun since SQL Server 7.0.  So that's what you get when you get really far behind in your technology;  You have a hard time finding talent because nobody wants to be that many years behind. 

So if you look around your shop and wonder why you're always having problems, and why your IT guys never seem to fix them, then look at yourself first.  Look at your business model.  If you don't care any more about your business than to leave it to 12 yr old technology, then you get what you deserve.  And you get the IT talent you deserve too.

So for all you guys out there who are afraid of new technology and who think your business is running just fine on dinoware, just know that your competitors are positioning themselves to be more reactive to the changing market and they'll not only beat you to the punch at the bargaining table, they'll also beat you to the best talent.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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