Have You Waited to Long to Update your Website?

Waiting to long to update has created a business mess. 

I am in the middle of a business mess. I waited way to long to upgrade my bookkeeping software. The problem was, I wasn’t motivated to do it. I felt like everything was working, business was happening as usual and why spend the money right now if I didn’t have to? I didn’t understand a disaster was coming and it could have been prevented.

All was well until one day, my database crashed and it could not be restored. I had many backups, but I still lost a week’s worth of billing. Since that day I have spent not hours, but weeks, trying to get the system back to operational.  Part of the difficulty has been due to the fact I did not keep up with the software updates.  When we tried to migrate to an upgraded version, my data didn’t match the format of the new data. The only way to fix it was a lot of manual effort, part of which I paid for, part of which I am doing myself.

Look at your Website, Does this Sound Familiar? 

I should have known better, because I see this same scenario all the time with business owners and their websites.

Late in 2016 I was contacted by a business owner who was struggling with their website.  Their site contained a feature where customers can initiate their service and a pay deposit online to get started with the company. Their sales line had received many complaint calls from potential clients who were unable to complete the transactions. I told the owner they were lucky people were calling, most would not take the time and just move on to another website.

As we were working on the proposal, Cybervise did some initial testing and found that the php code on the site was years out of date and current web browsers couldn’t execute the code anymore.  Potential clients were trying to sign-up using mobile devices and the site was not mobile compatible. (Remember Google’s Mobliegeddon? Most websites took care of this in 2015.)

Compare this to my software disaster, you could argue which is more business critical, the business website or the bookkeeping software? Frankly a website that has documented proof of revenue loss should motivate any business owner into action. This company had users actually on their website, ready to give them money and the company website was preventing money deposited in accounts right there. What more do you need to know?

Yet this story does not have a happy ending. Months after receiving the proposal, the same website is still in use. I get a call from the owner every few weeks, usually after they get another call from a user who can’t complete an online payment, and we go over again what needs to be done, but the project is still not on my schedule.

Lessons Learned After the Crash

  1. No money was saved. – In the long run I have spent way more time and money cleaning up the mess then I could have possibly saved not purchasing the software licenses.
  2. Maintenance is easier. -Small things that could have been done all along that would have prevented this or made an upgrade a lot smaller project. Staying current is key. Since it wasn’t happening before I switched to a service where the maintenance gets done automatically. One less thing for me to worry about.
  3. I am the owner, I own the mistake. – Bookkeeping was a task I delegated, so I assumed I would be told when new tools were needed. (Why is it people see errors messages and assume they will just magically go away? They are signs a problem is coming, don’t ignore them.) When a tool or a website is business critical, you can’t totally delegate it. Now that I realize how critical this software is to our business, it needed to be on my radar. A contractor or an employee will never feel my level of urgency.

Website Updates Are a Necessary Part of Business

The point of this story is:

If your business operates from a piece of technology, like a website, technology does not stand still. It needs to change. The technology used to operate it will change, the way customers interact with it will change.  Plan for the change, don’t wait for the crash.