Thought Leadership

To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?
Saturday, June 2, 2012

An interview with Scott Smits, Manager, Axsium Group

For many organizations, it can feel like “we’ve just finished the implementation, why are we talking about upgrades”. Even for the personal computer user, upgrading likely represents a number of risks and rewards. The promise of new features and functionality, or better performance, must always be balanced against the introduction of unforeseen bugs, the disappearance of trusted, core functions and the stress of introducing change into your organization.

With risks of this kind, why consider an upgrade? Certainly, there are organizations that, once a WFM system has been deployed and has become stable, continue on with little or no updating or upgrading. This is the ‘if-it’s-not-broke-why-update-it’ approach to maintaining a WFM system. However, there are host of other issues to consider when refusing upgrades.

Some organizations that have retained an outdated version of their workforce management software will ultimately reach a day when that version is no longer supported by the vendor. Without an effective way of getting help for issues with your WFM system, the decision to upgrade may be fairly easy—as it is likely being forced upon you in this scenario.

Many organizations may find that it makes sense to upgrade their WFM solutions because the IT department wants to upgrade or change the platform (i.e., database, operating system, etc.) upon which the system resides. In this case, an upgrade may be necessary to ensure compatibility with other updated pieces of the IT puzzle.

New features often trigger a WFM upgrade. Although the current system may be doing the job adequately, in the race to increase productivity, it may be necessary to upgrade as new and improved features are added to a suite of WFM products. Both big features and small features can have a positive impact on the user’s experience and system’s return on investment.

At some point, all organizations will have to assess whether or not an upgrade is a necessity for their business. Newer, updated versions of the software come with improvements that promise improved functionality and increased return on investment. These can be a competitive advantage in any market space and a powerful motivation for an upgrade.

Regardless of how big or small the upgrade, or the frequency with which it occurs, all organizations must at some point cost justify the cost. For many companies, the cost justification is easily achieved through reduced administration hours or technology costs. For others, the cost justification is also found in the way of improved user productivity, rendering real business impact.

Even with all these motivating factors, some organizations will find upgrading a much easier decision to make than others. For example, those who have not kept up with regular software upgrades may find it to be costly and disruptive to jump several generations of a WFM solution. In fact, these upgrades may feel more like a re-implementation.

Similarly, those organizations that have clung fiercely to a legacy system will likely have introduced many customizations to their WFM solutions. Although these custom features met the organization’s needs at the time, they can be costly to replicate when upgrading to the latest version of a vendor’s software. This can eventually be a roadblock to regular upgrades of the system. However, with the right implementation partner, these decisions can often be avoided in the first place.