15 year old scotch can be fabulous. 15 year old software can be risky. What will you do when the software product that runs your business, helps close sales, and brings in revenue becomes obsolete?
What is Obsolete?
Obsolete software means the product cannot be incrementally improved at any reasonable cost since the application itself – or hardware or operating system on which the product runs – is no longer supported. Perhaps the developers are no longer available or the software supplier has announced that the product is at “end of life.” Maybe you customized a software product that made it too expensive to upgrade.
Why does it matter?
Does having out of date software really matter? After all, it is still functioning. Here are three reasons why it matters:
- Lack of Security: Your inability to upgrade your software product means you may be trapped on an old operating system or browser that will not be using the most current security mechanisms.
- Lack of Support: You can’t get – or give -- adequate technical support when something goes wrong.
- Lack of Features: You cannot add new features to meet the evolving needs of your business. Since you can’t support the newer platforms, you lose speed, functionality, and customers.
What should I do?
Fortunately, innovative product-building companies now offer strategies for replacing obsolete applications that are surprisingly cost-effective. Here are three strategies companies are using to replace obsolete products in a way that may be less costly and painful than you might think:
- Examine Take a hard look at your existing product and users. When a product has been in the market for years, it tends to become over-laden with features as various stakeholders have gotten their unique wants added. Supporting this breadth of capability is expensive. Rewriting the software product allows a company to examine their customer segments and target new capabilities to the most profitable customers. By starting with a clear view of the needs and goals of the most valued customers, you prioritize what must be delivered first. Make a list of what to keep, what to remove, and what to add.
- Innovate As you envision your replacement software product, focus on the capabilities with the potential to grow your business into new areas. For example, in many markets, applications tailored for mobile devices are the fastest-growing segment. Others may find artificial intelligence enhanced applications will greatly improve the user experience. This strategy lets you direct your investment not just to catch up, but to give you modern capabilities that have the potential to outpace your competitors.
- Iterate Today's agile practices emphasize directing investment dollars to quick, iterative development cycles. Innovative custom software product companies build in sprints of 2-6 weeks in duration. Limiting the time between releases often reduces risk, enables quicker market feedback and provides a rhythm of developer productivity that is reinforced every few weeks. These practices also enable enhanced transparency in terms of managing the software-building budget and revealing more clearly what a given capability costs.
An obsolete software product can be a threat to your business, but you do not need to wait until you are in trouble. You can forge a new profitable path to the future. With agile practices and a sharp re-imagination of your best opportunities, you can optimize your software and outpace the market.