The 5 Essential ‘R’s For Upgrading Your Software
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Upgrading Your Software: 5 'R's You Should Consider First

With the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming into force on 25 May 2018 for all EU countries, many software suppliers are releasing system updates in order to comply with the requirements.

Upgrading software can seem a daunting task and is often postponed by organizations, with the assumption that the process will be complicated, take an extended period of time, and involve a significant cost—not to mention potentially negatively affecting users.

Depending on the software, your implementation, your project, the technical team, and your timeframes for upgrading, these assumptions may or may not be correct. Whichever the case, an upgrade is also a great opportunity to redesign and refresh your site, retrain and re-engage users, and to reinvest in your software.

1. Redesign

As part of your upgrade, you may consider updating your site’s branding, look and feel, imagery and/or layout. If the upgrade introduces substantial improvements, modifications to workflows, or changes the way users access certain areas of the system, updated navigation might be required to help guide users through the site. Improvements to the design and navigation of a system often act as a trigger for users to explore the software and better understand the benefits of an upgrade. For some tips on choosing a design supplier, check out this article.

2. Refresh

Refreshing your software might involve turning off functionality or areas that are no longer used or relevant, turning on functionality that was already available within the system but hadn’t been utilized yet, or introducing new functionality available within the upgrade. You may also look at adding new authentication options such as single sign-on, changing processes around system use and updates, or tidying up old users, data and content.

Besides the introduction of functionality and features in new versions of software, you may also see improvements to User Experience, accessibility, performance, and security. New versions may also include bug fixes, access to new language translations, and compatibility with new plugins or add-ons. Refreshing your site as part of the upgrade process allows you to ‘piggy-back’ these changes alongside other updates, reducing user disruption, and change management costs.

3. Retrain

Depending on the scale of the upgrade and number of changes implemented, you may need to offer training sessions on the new features and functionality of the system. This is also an opportunity to offer refresher training to those users who haven’t been using the site since their initial training or advanced training to those who aren’t yet tapping into the full potential of the application. Making the best use of your software sees a better Return On Investment. For some helpful hints on selecting a training provider, check out this article.

4. Reinvest

The time leading up to a significant software upgrade might be the right time to hire new staff to administer and maintain your software or revise and update content. You may also consider investing in the development of new functionality or integration with other systems, or simply spend time reviewing the business and functional requirements of the application. Investment into the usability, features, and associated support for the software will likely result in an increase in both user satisfaction and engagement.

5. Re-Engage

Consider how to get more users active and contributing to the system. Software that is working satisfactorily can be left to languish with little or no maintenance for extended periods of time. This will likely result in drop-offs in use and engagement as users become—at best—stuck in a rut and no longer exploring the system, and—at worst—bored with the system.

An upgrade is an opportunity to reignite the interest of users and encourage the exploration and use of the system by implementing new engagement and collaboration tools. You may also look at offering workshops or presentations on exemplary and creative uses of the software. Consider publishing or sharing articles, white papers, or blogs on ways to use the system effectively to help inspire users to re-engage with the application.

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