Bryan Varblow

"A Software Update Is Available"

Update is Available

“Update Is Available.”  “Updates were installed.”  As I move through my day and interact with various pieces of technology, it’s a constant refrain.  When I look down at my phone, I see that a new update is available.  If I dig down into the details, sometimes I see that it’s a seemingly small incremental jump.  Should I update now or wait for a more consequential update to come along?  If it’s a more significant update, do I press forward with getting the latest and best that my device has to offer, or do I opt to just stick with the stable features that I currently know and love?  Even my television now tugs at me to apply updates.  Quite a change from the “dumb” TV that I knew growing up!

While the merits can be debated, it’s undebatable that the software industry has moved towards continuous and frequent updates.  Gone are the days when the expectation was that an application would be upgraded every few years.  Even in the realm of enterprise software, a bastion of the passionate plea for stability over incremental progress, the world has changed. 

Over the past couple years, many of our clients have moved from a desire to get the latest from AdvantageCS every couple of years to understanding that it’s often necessary to stay more current in such a dynamic business environment.  They need the ability to partner with AdvantageCS on new development and have it quickly deployed, or even just leverage all that we have put into the software in the previous couple of months.  When we became aware of this change, we realized that we needed a new way to efficiently roll out new development to all our clients.

As we started down this road, we knew that we could only make this structural change if we made sure to do it right.  We needed to eliminate the cost and risk of retrofitting urgent development to our clients, but only if it could come with stability.  We set a goal to not just maintain software stability, but to actually improve it.  Also, a large capital expenditure for a big upgrade needed to become a thing of the past, but only if we could make the update process straightforward.

Over the past couple of years, we’ve succeeded in rolling out continuous updates to our clients.  We now put out an update each month that gives clients access to the latest developments in the software.  The updates can be downloaded and applied, followed by any needed tweaks to customizations and setup.  Additional tools have been developed to help with this work, and high level verification has been automated.  When the client is satisfied with the update, and has hopefully implemented some of the latest features, the update is able to be put live.

As clients have started on continuous updates, they’ve found them to be effective, straightforward, and generally stable.  While an update is made available each month, our clients have typically found that moving to a new update every two to three months strikes the right balance.  This allows them the proper amount of time for the various aspects of exploring new features, updating custom requirements, and verification.  Of course, this will vary for each one of our clients and we’re happy to help work out the right plan for each situation.

Bryan Varblow is Vice President of Operations at AdvantageCS.

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