With an incomplete software system, you have three options: expand, upgrade or replace. Here are the pros and cons.

Files end up in unsecured places, colleagues work around IT systems with shadow IT, and there are grumbles within the organization about missing functionality in the software package. In short: there is a mismatch between the user's needs and your business software.

You can do three things: extend, upgrade or replace your software. In this blog, we explain the benefits and drawbacks of each option as well as how to make the best decision for your business.

For example, think back to the corona period, when suddenly everyone was working from home. Were your systems set up for this, or did they need to be tinkered with?  

Another situation where your current system may not be adequate is when you want to expand your services. The introduction of a new service requires a change in the sales process. Do you have a well-defined system in place? Then adding the additional process becomes highly costly and difficult to achieve.

The mismatch between your users' and organization's needs and your system's capabilities can be caused by a variety of factors. So, before you think about how to address the problem, it’s important to know how to recognize this situation.

How do you go about doing that? Of course, by listening carefully to the people in your business. You will recognize the following five points:

  • The functionality is no longer sufficient. Users start to solve this themselves - often with some frustration - with hefty Excel files and in turn shadow IT emerges. You get customization requests.

  • Data cannot be structured or analyzed in the way that your business requires. Small adjustments cannot be made and proper reporting is lacking. 

  • The usability of your systems is deteriorating rapidly. The speed of working with them is decreasing and colleagues are dissatisfied. 

  • There is no visibility or control over certain processes because it is not built into your system. Think about automatic checks in finance departments. 

  • The software system assumes a hierarchical culture with many roles, rights, and access rules, while your organization does not work that way. Colleagues constantly have too many or too few rights.

Recognize one or more things from the list above and it's time to do something about it. Then you have three options: expand, upgrade or replace the software. Here are the pros and cons.

When expanding software, you add customization to your (standard) package. This is a good solution if it is a small variation to your current process that is easy to implement. Does it involve a whole new process or a major change? Then it is not advisable to solve this with customization. 

More customization makes your systems more difficult to maintain or upgrade. Are you more likely to add customizations to your systems to make them workable? If so, you're mainly fighting the symptoms, not the problem: your software is inadequate and inflexible. 

We regularly upgrade our smartphones and laptops to the latest version, so the term is familiar by now. For your business software, this works the same and in some cases, it is a powerful solution. Do you make little use of customization? Then an upgrade is often a piece of cake and after that, you will be able to use the latest functionality and security. 

However, do you have a lot of customization or is your system linked to other systems? Then there are several pitfalls to keep in mind when upgrading. Your systems may suddenly work completely differently for users after an upgrade and may not find their way around. Or it could be that the technology and APIs of an application change, so the connections to the rest of the IT landscape no longer work automatically. And did we mention how complicated it is to upgrade a package with a lot of customization? 

Your needs don't fit with expanding or upgrading? Then you have one option left: you can replace your entire system and have it perfectly match the needs of your user and business. Do you have a flexible software system? Then you distinguish yourself from the rest and move with the market at all times. 

Of course, this takes more time and money than expanding or upgrading. But it will bring you up to speed in one fell swoop and you will never again have to fiddle with interim solutions, minor adjustments, or awkward upgrades. And we can well imagine that it is exciting to migrate all your data and solutions to a new system. But is that a good reason not to do it? Certainly not! With proper preparation and guidance, your organization can do it too. 

Now that you know what each approach means for your business and software, it's easier to make the right decision. Our tip: make a choice that fits your business and not just your IT landscape. There is no IT strategy; there is a business strategy of which IT is a part. 

Is the goal to be ahead of the market? Then you're not going to make it with infinite intermediate solutions and an inflexible system. So think carefully about this. Ask yourself whether you are fighting symptoms or tackling the problem. Would you like to know more about the options you have or would you like to talk to one of our consultants? Get in touch.