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Upgrades: The Good, The Bad, The Ridiculous... and Sometimes Mandated?

Posted on December 17, 2008 by Archives

Some upgrades are proactive. After careful consideration and considerable time spent evaluating options, you decide it is time to replace a crucial component with a newer, better version.  Sometimes things go bump in the night; a server crash, your car’s transmission falls out, or Number 5 needs more input.  Whatever the cause, sometimes upgrades are forced upon you and you have to react quickly.

And sometimes upgrades are needlessly mandated; say, when a third party vendor, that you rely on for a major aspect of your business, sends you an email like this out of the blue:

In one month, you will be given access to the new platform, and you’ll be able to begin migrating your Website to it. Your existing platform will be removed 30 days later, thus completing the upgrade process.

Translation: We want to upgrade you to our new, unproven, untested system. And we want it when we want it, not when you want it. Oh yeah, and please do this as you head into the holiday shopping season.

This email caught us off guard and created quite a stir in our department. As a small to medium sized business, we don’t have the unlimited resources to do whatever we want, whenever we want. We plan our development projects out and schedule them in advance. So when we have a board full of projects such as EDI integrations, a new supplier interface, and a backend architecture upgrade already slated, and then a vendor, we pay for the use of their stable product, tries to dictate to us when to upgrade an already working product, we're not exactly thrilled.

The email went on to inform us that they realize that the upgrade window and timeline was small, so they’d happily recommend some high-priced consultants we could use to do the upgrade. How nice of them! So now we can pay through the nose to do an unnecessary upgrade we don’t want to do.

Apparently this didn’t go over well for their other customers either.  A few weeks later we received an email stating that due to the response from their customers, they were postponing the upgrade until after the New Year. It turns out that customers who pay good money for a reliable product don’t like being told how to run their business. And we don’t like being told to make major changes heading into the busy season. But mainly, we really don’t like throwing money and resources away for upgrades we don’t want or need.

Hopefully you don’t have this experience anytime soon. And if you do, make sure you let them know how you feel about it. Ultimately they have to listen to the people who pay their salaries.


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