How to Protect Your Business Against Software Emergencies

One of the most crucial services Worthwhile provides is helping companies in a software emergency, but we would prefer to help companies avoid situations that require a rescue.

The business world is driven by software. Your business relies on a mix of software tools such as web applications, mobile applications, e-commerce, and enterprise-level software (ERP systems). The failure of one of these applications could bring your business to a screeching halt, but too often do we meet companies that aren’t prepared if something goes wrong.

What creates a software emergency? Picture a CEO saying something like:

  • “We just lost our IT guy and now no one can manage our software.”
  • “The company working on our product is unresponsive.”
  • “The company that built our software is holding it hostage.”
  • “Our system is down, and we don’t know what’s wrong with it.”

A company in one of these situations is at the mercy of its software. Every business needs to avoid an abyss like one of these.

So how do you protect your business against a software emergency? Here are four key steps:

1. Identify potential problems

Even before a software problem reaches the emergency level, a business usually knows when a problem exists. Users complain, or performance lags, or bugs show up too frequently. When these kinds of issues surface, it’s time to dig into the problem by:

Isolating the issue
Software applications can be complex and interconnected, which means one problem can show up in several different areas. It’s important to filter through the noise to identify exactly what’s not working as it should. The problem isn’t always in the system itself; Sometimes the issue is making future updates or changes to the system, or protecting the system from an outside vulnerability.

Understanding the cause
Once you identify the problem, it’s time to investigate why the problem is happening. This often takes some digging, but this additional step is a crucial part of finding a successful solution.

2. Evaluate the intervention needed

Once the pressing problem is clear, a company needs to determine whether a quick fix will reduce risk sufficiently, or if a long-term solution is needed. It’s important to understand what a quick fix will and will not accomplish by asking some key questions:

  • Will this fix prevent this problem from happening again?
  • Will this fix prevent similar problems from happening, or are we still vulnerable?
  • Does this quick fix fit in with our software code and framework, or are we convoluting our code with this patch?
  • What future effort and costs should we expect after doing this quick fix? How do they differ from what we face if we make more thorough changes now?

Getting clear answers to these questions helps you understand the efficiency and sustainability the quick fix will provide. With this information, you can make a wise decision about whether the quick fix should happen instead of a long-term solution, alongside such a solution, or whether another approach will yield better results.

Your software technology stack will affect the answers to these questions. Many times, we find emergencies caused by out-of-date frameworks or programming that does not match up with community best practices.

Notice that these questions don’t eliminate a quick fix, and sometimes that will be the best course of action. Just make sure to choose a quick fix strategically, not because of cost or panic level.

3. Know what a solution will require

Because ERPs and other kinds of software are mission critical, businesses need to know what a solution will require. Three key factors are:

  1. Downtime
    Will your software need to be offline for fixes to take place? This is a major consideration, especially if your business can’t function effectively or efficiently without the software. If downtime is necessary, it should be strategically planned for existing lulls in your business.
  2. Retraining employees or customers
    Changing software products or systems often forces employees to learn new ways to do common tasks. Such a change can also force customers to learn new ways to purchase online, access information, or search products. This learning curve needs to be accounted for in your strategy, as you plan for a smooth user experience transition.
  3. Financial investment
    Obviously, finances are a big part of any decision to overhaul business software. As you decide, it’s important to understand the numbers you see and the numbers you don’t see. The cost of implementing new software, as opposed to maintaining old software, is rarely an apples-to-apples comparison. Each software system comes with intrinsic maintenance costs, and also unique future risks.

It may make more sense for your business to spend a little bit more money up front to have a system that’s easier to change or add to in the future. We have had more than one client make exactly this decision, and for those businesses, spending more up front has saved significant money over the long term.

4. Find a software partner

Many companies don’t have the in-house resources to navigate these key steps on their own. In this situation, a business needs to have a trusted outside software partner to help it make good decisions.

Worthwhile enjoys this kind of relationship with many of our clients. In these relationships, we seek to earn our clients’ trust, every time, by building purposeful software and recommending custom solutions that fit a company’s business needs and goals.

Having a software partner like Worthwhile in place helps companies be proactive and avoid the business disruptions software emergencies can cause.

These four tips will help keep a business running and out of emergency mode, which is something every organization needs.

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