Accounting and finance, part of comprehensive ERP software solutions, are based on long-established principles, and publicly funded organizations are swept by the same software technology trends such as cloud computing and digital transformation as other business software applications. Migration from on premises deployments to cloud computing has made it more important than ever to keep your ERP software up to date.
For at least twenty years, software vendors were expected to provide minor releases every year and major released were separated by two years or more. The upgrade cycle is now continuous, and it includes not only new features but bug fixes and security patches.
There are many reasons for staying current with your ERP software including:
- New features and enhancements. Vendors introduce new features to match those of their competitors and enhance the usability of their products by streamlining data entry and updating reporting and business intelligence features. You may not need every new feature, but you are likely to find something in each release to improve functionality.
- New modules. Vendor often offer new modules which are only available with the most recent version. The same competitive pressures that drive new features lead vendors to create entirely new modules, and you need to be up to date to access the new module.
- Regulatory updates. Accounting rules are updated every year, especially changes that are derived from tax code changes. Updates for payroll, AP 1099, other changes may only be available in the current software versions. Skipping these updates could cause your organization to fall out of compliance.
- Security. Cybersecurity is a critical requirement for every organization, and few can afford to fight all the possible threats on their own. We depend on software vendors to design their products with security in mind and to patch them immediately when vulnerabilities are detected. These threats can be at many levels such as the operating system, the network, databases, and business applications. Failing to stay current exposes your organization to legal liability and potential disruption of operations. Thousands of businesses, nonprofits and government agencies have been crippled by cyberattacks, and clinging to old software, especially software that is no longer supported by the vendor, creates major vulnerabilities.
- Support. Vendors often discontinue support of older versions. Even if the vendor does continue support, as there is turnover in support staff there may be fewer options for assistance when there are questions or issues. The people you hire are more likely to know the current version of a product than previous versions.
Some organizations stay on outdated software to save money. When software was deployed on premises, perpetual licensing meant that the longer you used the software, the longer the amortization of the cost. Vendors are transitioning to subscription licensing which no longer supports this approach. Some companies that offer perpetual licensing increase the support costs to such an extent that it would be less expensive to switch to a subscription for a new version. This trend is likely to continue because of the economics of the software industry.
Staying current requires work. It is important to read the release notes and/or get training to fully understand new features or features that are removed. You may even need to change your processes to accommodate the software or take advantage of new features.
The upgrade process drives a need for new training. This is a great opportunity for newer users that may have not had formal training as well as older users who may have forgotten prior training. Many organizations record the training sessions as videos for later use.
Financial and information technology leaders cannot afford to ignore the growing pressures for staying current with ERP software – to do so creates needless risks to their organization. Stay current and access new features and functionality.