Knowing When to Upgrade

In yesterday’s monthly newsletter (join the free newsletter at http://www.geometrick.com/newsltr_signup.htm ), the newsletter article listed five things you should consider when you’re thinking about whether or not to upgrade your laboratory informatics software, whether it’s a LIMS, an ELN, or something else. If you’re interested in the article, you can read it in its entirety at http://geometrick.com/n-l-how-to-know-when-upgrade.html . But once you decide to upgrade your software, another issue to consider is whether or not your software CAN be upgraded. I thought I’d mention this because it’s an issue one of the newsletter readers pointed-out to me and it’s quite important.

Here’s the problem: just because you have good reasons for sticking with the same software package doesn’t mean that it’s actually possible. Here are some reasons why:

  1. The software might have been retired and will not be getting more upgrades.
  2. Even though a new version is available, the version might not be in its final release. For example, something that’s still in a beta test mode isn’t considered as nearly as good a candidate for an upgrade path as something that’s in final release, and most labs won’t accept upgrades that aren’t in the final release.
  3. The new version might not truly be an upgrade. Sometimes, software vendors will entirely rewrite their software but call it a new release of something that you area already running even though it is entirely different. Additionally, if the new version isn’t truly an upgrade AND there’s no upgrade path, this is even more of a problem. Even if a software vendor entirely rewrites their software, if they create software to do a proper migration of what you have to what they’ve created, it still might be feasible for you to consider. BUT you shouldn’t assume that they will offer this. If they offer you services to perform this, it’s not the same. They need to start with a piece of upgrade software they’ve created and validated. Then, they can make some adjustments to it to reflect your configured/customized system, but if they’re creating a solution just for you, you’d probably be just as well off starting a new selection process, going out to the general pool that’s available, and paying someone to migrate you to whatever currently best fits your needs.

If you go to a new software package, of course, you’ll have to pay the license fees all over, again. However, if the new software is better fitted to your current needs than the old software, you might be able to recoup that cost in savings regarding configuration and customization fees. They can be quite high, as many of you already know.

Gloria Metrick
GeoMetrick Enterprises
http://www.GeoMetrick.com/

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