In many situations being first is associated with being the best. In the case of new software or hardware deployments, this isn’t always the case. While there are areas where being a first mover will provide some competitive advantage, being the first organization in your industry to adopt a certain software or hardware schema can result in your company incurring additional costs while some of the kinks in the system are worked out.
Software development and releases are done a bit differently than product manufacturing in many other industries. If a car or a television have a few bugs, it is likely that they will be fixed during the R&D cycle prior to being released to the market. If a piece of software has a few bugs, the program will still be released and the issues will be fixed in future patches or releases of that software. Understanding this fundamental difference can help your company to plan accordingly and wait on deploying IT systems that are not fully matured.
While everyone wants to have the latest and greatest technology, here are a few questions you should ask yourself to determine if your organization is ready to deploy a new or upgraded version of a program in your production environments:
1) Is this a brand new program, or are there previous versions?
This is important because it will provide a good idea around how mature this version of the program may be and how mature the company is that is releasing it. If this is the 1st release of a program, by a new company, it is likely you’ll run into more issues early on. If this is the 5th iteration of this program, it is likely that there will be far fewer initial wrinkles to iron out.
2) How long ago was the previous version of the program released?
If this is a mature program, knowing when the previous version was released will give you a good idea of the manufacturer’s release cycle. This will provide a good clue around when you’ll need to upgrade again and when your current deployment will become outdated.
3) How long has the current version of the product been on the market?
If the product has just been released, it is likely that there are still a few kinks to work out from the deployment. Depending on the product a may make sense to wait a few months up to a year to deploy an enterprise level program. This will allow for proper testing by others and will give you the opportunity to not have to incur the first mover costs. This will also allow the online community (such as Microsoft Technet or Apple Support Communities) to catchup to the issues in the current release.
4) What changes are made from the version your company has in place?
If you already have a previous version of the program in place, it may make sense to analyze what is truly different between versions. Upgrading for the sake of upgrading doesn’t always make sense, and it may cost your company a large amount of money for only trivial differences. Make sure that the added features add a real benefit to your organization.
5) What additional licensing costs will your company incur?
With new releases and different versions of programs, there can sometimes be new hardware requirements. Before upgrading or changing your software deployments, it is important to understand the potential for added licensing costs for the additional hardware you may need to install.
6) What additional training will be required for your employees to fully utilize the new version?
This is one of the most important questions that is oftentimes overlooked when organizations are deploying new software in their organization. There is oftentimes a feeling that if it is built out, the users will magically embrace the change. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. It is necessary to understand that users will be creatures of habit and will prefer that the interface they work with remains fundamentally the same. If things are going to change, there will need to be a concerted effort to provide training and resources to answer questions that are sure to come up.
It’s easy to rush into things, but sometimes it will be far more beneficial to wait for a program to be mature before deploying it in your organization. The questions above should hopefully help in determining when the time is right to deploy new software in your organization.
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