Why you should upgrade your outdated software systems

27 Nov 2019 by Peter Ebdon

Apart from the obvious benefits of increased productivity and profitability, upgrading your digital systems regularly to platforms that comply with current regulations and practices is vital if your business is to avoid the risks associated with using outdated software.

Known as ‘software decay’ or ‘software entropy’, the slow degradation in the performance of computer software will manifest itself in the form of buggy, unreliable behaviour and eventual become unusable. In addition to this, if not maintained regularly, the software will not be updated with current methods of protection against online threats.

The risks associated with continuing to use outdated software

Ever-increasing likelihood of operational errors

Software technology is forever changing. As code gets older it becomes less efficient and unable to cope with the demands made on it by an organisation. Think of it like a steam locomotive trying to match the performance of a modern high speed train. A wonderful, ground-breaking achievement in its day and still an acceptable way to get from A to B if time and efficiency is not of the essence but no match for the modern equivalent in terms of performance. Unsurprisingly, if the software can’t cope with increasing demand then mistakes can occur. A small error in the handling of data could result in a big mistake in the long run. Staff may become frustrated with clunky, unreliable processes and resort to other methods to perform tasks, widening the margin for human error. Or worse still, customers may give up on services that consume their time and leave them frustrated.

The need to upgrade outdated software

Increased vulnerability to cyber attacks

According to The National Cyber Security Centre, the following issues are compounded by the use of obsolete software:

  1. the software will no longer receive security updates from its developers, increasing the likelihood that exploitable vulnerabilities will become known by attackers
  2. the latest security mitigations are not present in older software, increasing the impact of vulnerabilities, making exploitation more likely to succeed, and making detection of any exploitation more difficult

These issues mean that the risk of a high-impact security incident such is increased, which can have a catastrophic impact throughout a vulnerable organisation. Ransomware cryptoworms, such as the 2017 WannaCry worm, specifically target vulnerable systems.

What causes software rot?

Inefficient, dated functionality

What may have been the perfect solution when the software was first written to solve a particular problem, may begin to hold an organisation back when the original problem evolves into something else or new technology offers a more efficient solution.

Outdated, complicated code

As software technology moves on, the code used by developers to write complex software systems becomes faster, leaner and more efficient. Faster internet speeds mean huge amounts of data can be processed in seconds if the code is right. Outdated, clunky code will force devices and users to work much harder than they need to achieve the results they want. This can result in business processes taking way longer than they should, wasting time and therefore money.

Unsupported technology

If software becomes too costly for a supplier to maintain (when the technology becomes obsolete) they will stop supporting it. Old operating systems can be particularly problematic as the software will cease to be automatically updated with vital security patches as new cyber threats are discovered. Software will develop bugs as it is no longer compatible with new browser or device technology.

How to avoid software rot

Your software is a crucial part of your business and should be treated as such. Keep it maintained by software specialists and don’t rely on ‘quick and dirty’ fixes by in-house IT staff applying duct-tape to defects as a long-term solution. Upgrade your systems as often as you can afford to and take advice on what options are likely to bring the most long-term benefit.

If your IT system isn’t working for you, it’s time to change it not plug the holes.

Why do organisations resist upgrading their software systems?

Many organisations will envisage substantial costs involved in making significant changes to their digital systems. The investment of time by stakeholders to agree requirements, financial investment to software professionals, training costs and unknown ongoing maintenance costs.

In addition to this they may be fearful of change. Their current systems may be clunky, but they get the job done in the end. How will everyone know what they’re doing if they’re having to use new complicated technology? This ‘better the devil you know’ attitude is understandable but dangerous when applied to an organisation’s software system.

How can Achorda help?

Achorda helps organisations audit their current systems and understand where the software is failing them. Pinpointing the pressure points and bottle necks helps to build the requirements for a more efficient system. The needs of all stakeholders matter when it comes to agreeing software requirements, including subjects such as budget, ongoing costs, future organisation evolution and how easily staff can adapt to new processes. Achorda takes the time to iron out these fundamental issues before even thinking about tackling the nitty gritty of functionality.

Achorda specialises in helping organisations to embrace change through software solutions that work exactly how they want them to. Achorda offers software services including consultancy, development and maintenance backed by expert industry knowledge. With almost 25 years’ experience, we know how to help rid organisations of outdated software and avoid the risks associated with it.

If you think your organisation needs a software upgrade, why not get in touch for a no obligation chat to see if Achorda can help you?

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