Usually when I get called in to a new client it is either because they have a defined need or they are in immediate trouble. The latter is more often the case and I usually enjoy the challenge of figuring out what is wrong under the threat of impending doom. More often than not, no backup exists and it is a key computer or piece of equipment in the office. The problem seems to be lately is that a spyware attack has either hopelessly infected the computer in question, a hard drive has failed or worst yet they have patched the OS recently. This computer is usually a relic running Windows 98, 95 or even MS-DOS and the software that has failed is not supported, and is out of date.
Normally we perform a review of our existing clients at least once a year and try to upgrade at least a 3rd of computers and replace servers that are going out of warranty. So hardware is easy, make sure all of your computers are no more than 3 years old.
With software it gets a little more difficult, especially if it is custom built or they have to upgrade from DOS to Windows. Most of the time this is a cost factor or sometimes it is a training issue, the biggest excuse is that an upgrade will slow down productivity. This may sound like a crock, but there is a kernel of truth to the argument in that sometimes the users know how to be the most efficient with the version they are used to. DOS to Windows changes are especially maddening to people who no longer even look at the screen and enter data entirely by touch. The problem comes when the software is no longer supported by the company who made it, what do you do?
My suggestion is simple, while you donâ€™t have to bite at every update at least stay within one revision of the current major release i.e. if you have version 2.0 and version 4.1 is out you should upgrade. Even if you donâ€™t put it in production right away, you can test it and try the additional features, if it is a dog start looking for another product or better yet send your complaints to the developer. Contrary to popular belief most software companies need negative feedback to keep their products on track. The tools for developing software now are much more reliable and produce better applications so you will be better off in the long run, and I will be too.