Many of you—particularly designers and drafters—know the feeling when the boss or project manager asks you to run a profile on that old program on a dusty computer kept in the farthest corner of the company office. You know, the one kept around because it’s the only machine ancient enough to run that old, out-of-date-yet-deemed-vital bit of software that the company refuses to upgrade because it doesn’t want to “spend money needlessly.”
It’s a sense of dread and disdain that fills the inner reaches of your soul because you know your job was just made 10 times more difficult. Now you have a million more hoops to jump through to get one thing done. You know that if the boss would simply upgrade the software, your life would be a gazillion times better.
Upgrading that old software could mean thousands of dollars for one license. If you have multiple users, that number could quickly add up to tens of thousands of dollars. It’s a lot of money out of the IT budget to spend on a tool that you probably aren’t using every day. But instead of spending money in one lump sum as a line item on a purchase order, you could be spending the same amount (or more) slowly, over time.
Here are a few reasons why that old software/hardware might be costing you more money than you think. Some of these reasons overlap, but they’re important to consider.
1. Old Software Creates a Huge Security Hole.
One of the most common reasons to keep old software around is because it can’t run on newer operating systems. Old operating systems (such as Windows XP) eventually reach an “end-of-life” status. That means the company that makes the OS has stopped maintaining it, no longer providing support or updates. If a hacker finds a way to exploit the operating system (or the software you refuse to upgrade), then he or she can gain access to your company network, infect your systems, or just cause downtime for your IT department. The time you spend dealing with this security breach will cost you a lot of money. Losing data because of a virus infection will cost you money. When you don’t upgrade software, it increases the chance of this happening. You are taking a huge risk; don’t keep rolling the dice.
2. Old Software Causes Incompatibility Issues and Data Loss.
Old software means your files might not be compatible with new software. The opposite is also true; files from newer versions of software might not be compatible with your old software. That means you will need to spend time converting the data to the proper version, and that means calling your clients back to ask them to jump through hoops to save their files in a version you can use. This makes you look bad, and it will surely annoy your clients—they lose faith in your ability to do the work, and that’s worse than wasting money. You don’t want to project a sense of inadequacy or ineptitude to your clients.
And don’t forget that with many software programs, that data is the key. When that data gets converted, it often loses something. It could be data loss or just a simple formatting issue. The document that you spent hours to make look perfect is now broken and looks like garbage. That CAD or BIM file, now converted, has lost all database connections and no longer functions properly. It now takes time to deal with these issues, which could overrun a budget or cause you to miss deadlines.
3. Old Software Wastes a Lot of Time.
The money you don’t spend on an update to your software saves you money. That’s the bottom line, no doubt. But what you don’t see in that yearly budget is a line item for “time wasted.” Wasted time is the biggest money suck from old software and old hardware. Old hardware is slower. Old software consistently causes issues (see reason number 2). Dealing with these issues wastes time. Time is money, and wasted time is wasted money.
4. Old Software Impedes Employee Happiness.
When employees have to “deal” with old hardware/software, they do it with a feeling of regret. They are not happy they have to take extra steps to do their jobs. This causes frustration. If this happens more often than it should, those employees will develop ill feelings toward their job. If your employees aren’t happy, then they won’t perform at their best, and that will cause you to lose money.
Businesses spend a lot of money on hardware and software and the maintenance of both. No business wants to spend more than they have to, but software upgrades are worth your consideration.
Before you decide that you will be saving money by retaining old hardware to run old software, make sure you are actually saving money. Revisit this decision on a regular basis to make sure you are indeed saving money. Make certain that you speak with the people who actually use the software before you make your decision. Consider time spent using the equipment, security risks, time spent dealing with older file types, and get your employees’ input.