Why Is Software Updating Such a Challenge?

By: Crispin Luxton

Your software update process doesn’t just require attention because of its potential impact on your business. It also requires attention because it is an inherently complex process with many potential opportunities for inefficiency and error.

Several factors make software updating especially challenging and prone to problems, including:

• All software updates are not equal – major, minor, patch, hot fix, service pack – the timing of these different types of updates are driven by different conditions. Tracking, scheduling and coordinating these multiple types of updates makes the software update process far more complicated.

• Software updates require involvement from multiple groups – software updates involve more than just developers sitting in a room and writing code. You have to figure out what should be in the next update—whether it’s a major upgrade or a hot fix, etc. and then who should be involved, product managers, marketers, salespeople, technical architects, customer support staff  and maybe event third parties

• All customers are not equal – in a perfect world, your customers would be only too happy to install updates that enhance your software. They would install every update as soon as it became available. And, their IT environments would be so stable and homogeneous that updates would never create unanticipated issues for your own software. This, of course, is not the case. Customers are different, and they have their own preferences when it comes to the frequency and acceptability of updates.

• Resources are finite – in most organizations, resources are already stretched given the increasing complexity of the software and the computing environments into which that software is now typically installed. Without a coherent updating process, these limited resources can easily be wasted on unproductive and/or redundant activities. Critical tasks such as quality assurance can wind up short-changed. Such outcomes are unacceptable in a business environment where software functionality is revenue-critical—and where customer expectations regarding software quality and reliability continue to rise.

The growing importance of the software application to the business and the growing challenges associated with the consistent delivery of an excellent software update experience make it clear that every organization needs to give reasonable attention to its software update process.

Next time: What Does a Best-in-Class Software Update Process Like?

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