Say you’ve had your practice management, billing or accounting software for a couple of years (but it feels like you bought it yesterday). One day you receive a message from the company that developed the software and it says: “It’s time to upgrade your software as your version of XYZ will no longer be supported after xyz date.” What!? You invested in upgraded computer hardware, IT time, training and consulting – not to mention the software – and now they are telling you that they don’t “support” your product anymore?!
Here are some answers to the most frequently asked questions clients have after realizing that they have – or will soon have – an unsupported version of software:
“What does unsupported mean?”
If you are running an “unsupported” version, this means that the software company no longer offers service patches or technical support for that version.
“Why is my version no longer supported by the software company?”
As technology progresses at an ever faster pace, software developers have to decide where to invest their resources. With most of their business being generated by clients using software versions that are 3 years old or less, it is reasonable to concentrate their efforts on current and future versions. Also, as a company’s customer base invests in new hardware (servers, workstations and operating systems), they need to produce software that is compatible with these systems.
“Who am I going to call if I have a problem with my now unsupported software version?”
Unfortunately , “Ghost Busters” isn’t going to help you out with this one! But, if you have a reliable and experienced software consultant (like Caren at Time & Cents Consultants!) you will most likely be able to get help and support for your version of the software until such time that YOU are ready to upgrade to a newer version.
An alternative would be to go to the vendors’ websites to find tips, tricks and white papers on using your version. You might also find a list of consultants who are certified on the software and available to help. Alternatively, you can “Google” any issues and usually find websites, forums and/or chat rooms where you might find assistance for your software.
Is it really time for me to upgrade?
This is a question that only the user can answer. Chances are that the answer is yes if you are running a software version that is soon to become unsupported.
Think about how you are using that particular program: Do you use it to run your business? Do you utilize all of the functions on a regular basis? Or, do you use it for only one feature or purpose or on an occasional basis? If the software is the backbone of your business, then it’s probably in your best interest to upgrade to the most current version. If you only use it for one or few components (contact management, calendar, etc) perhaps you don’t need to upgrade.
If the software links with other software or hardware that you own (Smartphones, laptops, etc.), consider how soon you might be upgrading those components. If you will be upgrading something soon, you want to make sure that everything is compatible. Generally, older versions of software are not compatible with new operating systems (i.e. Windows 7, Microsoft Office 10) or new devices (i.e. iPhone, Blackberry) and you may need to upgrade your applications.
A consultant knowledgeable on the product can often provide advice on how the new features might benefit you and help you understand the costs and benefit of the decision to upgrade or not. Spending money to upgrade may not be your first choice, but it may save you time and money in the long run.