Businesses often have a difficult decision to make when it comes to purchasing upgrade software for their company. Software isn’t cheap, but not keeping up with the latest software versions can hinder business productivity. There are a few things to consider that can aid in your decision of upgrading your software.
Updating and upgrading software are two separate concepts. Updating your software means your base software version is given a new revision of the same feature set while an upgrade entirely replaces the feature set with a new one. An easy way to determine an update from an upgrade is by checking the version of the software. If your software version is assigned a number such 7.0, then anything 7.xx would be an update, while any number higher than the base 7.xx such as 8.0 would be an upgrade. Another way to determine an update from upgrade is the year ascribed to the software. A year 2010 version is older than a year 2011 version. Moving up from one year to the other would be considered an upgrade because the entire feature set is being replaced with a new one.
Software that is yearly based such as accounting software or tax software should be upgraded on a yearly basis. These types of software work usually only for a year and you are, in a way, stuck with them for a long time. Some accounting softwares allow you the option of import of other competing accounting software such as Simply Accounting, which allows you to import from Quickbooks. Either way you would still have to upgrade yearly. The same goes for tax software, as the rules change and additions are added to the tax code thus having the software change on a yearly basis as well.
Antivirus software should definitely be upgraded every year. Whether it`s AVG or any other antivirus software, there should be no taking of the chance by not upgrading yearly. This is a must. It will save your business a fortune should you, and probably will, come across an infected file or some type of malware.
What about programs such as Microsoft Office? No business is complete without a proper office suite. Whether it is OpenOffice.org of Microsoft Office, it is a must for companies small and large. Thankfully, Microsoft Office isn’t released on a yearly basis, so you only need to upgrade every three to four years when the new version is released, which is fine, because at least it doesn’t cost you a yearly amount. OpenOffice.org also needs to be upgraded every two to four years because of the programming additions that feature new components to the suite, and it is free. Being open source, OpenOffice.org is free for users and therefore makes sense to upgrade whenever a new version is released.
How about other important software such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Acrobat Pro? Well, here`s a caveat. You can always choose to upgrade yearly if your company can afford it, but it may be better to set a regular period of years when you would want to upgrade. Of course Adobe and others would want you to upgrade yearly, which is fine provided you can afford to do so. I know that some of the small businesses I handle cannot afford the expense of buying an Adobe Creative Suite on a yearly basis. I usually advise them to upgrade every three years or so because it would be financially convenient and software-wise to do so. What I mean by being software-wise is that when you upgrade to a newer version your new documents are usually saved to the new format and is inaccessible by the previous versions. This can hinder in your business transactions if you exchange files with clients and customers that use older versions due to version incompatibility. Some softwares do include compatibility features for opening files from various other versions of the software, but it is usually advisable to check which softwares do and don`t contain compatibility with older or newer versions of the software before upgrading.
Establishing a company policy regarding what and when to upgrade would definitely help out and is highly recommended. A budget for purchasing new software and the cost of renewing should also be set forward. Keeping at pace with the upgrading of your software will help ensure that your company is productive and that it won’t lose out on business due to not being able to open new files.