I have a 2008 Toyota Camry Hybrid, which I love. Ok, to be honest the love (like the original paint) may have faded over time. But the car has been good to me, and before I knew it I had driven it about 2 years longer than I originally planned. As I watched the odometer inch towards 100,000 (and the end of my warranty) I thought to myself that it was probably time to start looking for a new car. With my busy schedule and dread of the car buying process, I decided to wait until the spring. The milestone came and went, and before I knew it my car odometer was at 100,882 miles.
Of course you know what happened next – without warning, all kinds of bells and whistles went off about a week ago. Danger, Hybrid Engine System Check? A quick look at the owner’s manual told me it was not good news, confirmed by the look on the car dealership service manager’s face when I brought it in. To make a long story a little shorter, there was over $4000 in repairs to replace the hybrid battery system. Now what ??? Do I repair the vehicle or buy a new one while I’m in a bind?
As I found myself contemplating the philosophical choices that I’ve made (buy vs. lease, keep just a few months longer vs. risk being out of warranty), I realized that there was a stunning parallel to the world of consulting and the software that we support.
Many of our clients are in the same boat. They often question how long they can stretch their use of existing software – the mission critical systems that keep your firm running (calendar and docketing, time tracking and billing, and even e-mail.)
Firms make do with what they have for many reasons – they fear the increased costs, learning curve, or even down time. We often field questions about upgrading, benefits of support plans, and defining exactly what “unsupported” means. Why should they upgrade? The software is paid for! It’s working fine, why should they change? Or, maybe it’s not working great, but we’d rather deal with what we have than deal with transition.
We have always continued to support our clients, whether the software vendor supports the version or not – for as long as we are able. We continue this commitment to our clients.
However, based on recent events with my car (and new trends in the software industry), we also realize that it is imperative that we are clear about the risks of using an unsupported version of your software.
Risks may include:
– Extra Costs for time spent researching issues and getting resources (since official technical support will not be available)
– Unplanned downtime if your program is not working
– Living with software bugs or workarounds
– Limited (or no availability) to add licenses
– Compatibility issues with new operating systems or 3rd party links (accounting, billing, etc)
– In the worst case scenario there may be a domino effect of needing to upgrade multiple systems – hardware, operating systems, practice management software, billing software, etc. at a most inconvenient time.
If you’d like us to review your options, please call our office to schedule a complimentary telephone conference. We’ll be happy to discuss your current systems and help you create a timeline that suits your budget – and your tolerance for risk.
And as for me, and my car – what did I do? You can wait until Part 2, or e-mail me to find out, and I’ll tell you the rest of the story…